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Rarotonga families sprout new skills at vegetable planting workshop

Thursday 28 March 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Environment, Local, National


Rarotonga families sprout new skills at vegetable planting workshop
Hannah Parau Teinakore Ioteva (middle) and keen young growers, pack compost mix into potting bags at the Cook Islands Child Welfare vegetable workshop with the Ministry of Agriculture in Matavera. MELINA ETCHES/24032701

Families were delighted to take home a large number of pinapi (bok choy) seedling plants from the Ministry of Agriculture vegetable planting workshop initiated by the Cook Islands Child Welfare Association (CICWA).

These “Vegetable Planting Evenings” workshops were launched to promote healthy living and self-sufficiency among young families.

The initiative aims to educate and support families in growing their own vegetables for nutritious meals.

Last week, communities in Te Au O Tonga – Ruatonga Child Welfare Clinic, Puaikura – Kavera Child Welfare Clinic, and Takitumu – Matavera Child Welfare Clinic completed their first programme.

Those who took home pinapi seedlings were advised to water - light sprinkle – their vegetables twice per day (morning and afternoon) and place their potting bags in full sun.

Hannah Ioteva and her younger brother Tutai Johan Ioteva from Matavera were both excited to leave the workshop with their bags of seedlings to nurture.

“I have grown pinapi before, it was good for my brother to get involved and it has been exciting to see the seedings that we had planted grow so well,” said Hannah.

Evelyn Foster from Muri is no stranger to farming produce helping out her grandfather Tauira Nikoia in the plantations whenever she is back every year.

“I come back every holiday and I plant,” said Foster.

Despite her experience in growing produce, Foster said she participated in the workshop, recognising it as a great project to encourage people in the community to grow their vegetables

“I haven’t seen a workshop like this before, I believe that the more people who participate in these maybe others will also come along, and everyone else will want to follow,” said Foster.

“You don’t have to be experienced to grow, and there are still things and tips you can learn at these programmes.”

Foster and her grandfather visit Agriculture every week to purchase seedlings.

They supply their produce to Captain Tama’s and Tem’s Store in Muri, Paringaru and Tupapa.

CICWA executive officer Susan Sadaraka says they will monitor the plants to ensure people are looking after their pinapi.

“We have asked Agriculture to facilitate another vegetable growing workshop so we are asking everyone to please take care of your plants that should be ready to harvest in a week or two,” said Sadaraka.

Both CICWA and the Ministry of Agriculture hope to instill a lifelong love for gardening in these young families.

Agriculture led the seedling-raising programme, providing participants with instructions on sowing seeds and managing them afterward.