Sunflower contest sows enthusiasm





Koru Kindergarten in Stratford were the winners of the National Prize Draw for this year’s Dalton Sunflowers in Kindergartens Project. Through the project, 11,694 kindy children learn about gardening through competing to grow the tallest sunflower and widest sunflower heads in their region. In Taranaki, 925 children from Kindergarten Taranaki were involved in the project. The project started in August, the day before the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown was announced, which meant some regions have spent the vast majority of the project’s duration in lockdown. Teachers had to adapt and get creative, and have gone above and beyond to keep sunflowers alive and children engaged in the project. Koru Kindergarten wasn’t the only Taranaki kindergarten to win some prizes, with Devon Kindergarten’s 77cm sunflower plant earning them the prize for tallest sunflower in the region. Teacher Gill Evans says Devon Kindergarten have loved taking part in Dalton’s Sunflower in Kindergartens Project. “This has been a special part of our kaupapa for many years now and we always look forward to participating. Each time we talk to our current tamariki and share with them what participation involves and how we have even been lucky enough to win previously.” The winner of the Widest Sunflower Head was won by Marfell Kindergarten with a diameter of 8cm. Teacher Kylie Kinnell says growing the sunflowers was “a great opportunity to connect with Papatuanuku and to foster skills, knowledge and enjoyment of gardening in tamariki”. The goal of the biennial project is to create a platform for children to learn about gardening in a practical way. They develop skills and a basic understanding of plants through sowing seeds and growing seedlings, planting them out and daily care of their plants. Teachers also integrated aspects of the project into their learning curriculum. Daltons general manager Colin Parker says Daltons wants to thank everyone who got behind the project, despite the many challenges. “We have been blown away at how they adapted, with some teachers making up individual packs for children to grow plants at home or taking seedlings to their own homes and caring for them until they were able to get back into their kindergartens. Through all of this, they have kept children engaged and supported them to develop a love of gardening, which is what the project is all about.” Winners have been selected from each of the 11 regions to reflect the diverse growing conditions throughout the country. The children grew King Seeds “Skyscraper” sunflowers which can grow more than 4 metres high. All the regional winners will receive a prize from Daltons, The Warehouse and new project partner Gardena for the Tallest Sunflower and Widest Sunflower head. All participating kindergartens were entered into a nationwide draw and the Best Photo Award to win prize packs.