Canterbury school students are swapping screens for spades and learning how to grow and care for trees.
The Orchards in Schools programme was initiated by the Canterbury Horticultural Society which supplies schools with apple, pear and plum trees, compost, boxing and on-going support at no cost.
Children learn about the environment, science and sustainability, and schools often report that students become interested in vegetables after learning to plant trees.
Nineteen Canterbury schools currently have orchards and the number is growing.
Educator Mary Tingey is the green-fingered programme coordinator. As well as overseeing the planting, she visits every school at least twice a year.
"They learn to use a spade, how to be gentle, what roots, buds and shoots are. I was at a school the other day and the kids said 'This is the most awesome thing we've ever done', getting outside and digging. They will now look after the trees really well."
Canterbury Horticultural Society member and moss grower Allan Patterson pitched in to help Mary with a planting day at Hornby Primary School - the latest Christchurch school to sign up for an orchard.
"These trees will grow with these children and you'll find that they're are bit more protective of them if one of their mates is swinging off it," he chuckles.
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