More sharing and kindness

The mail keeps rolling in, bringing with it delicious parcels of kindness from our friends and supporters. Each envelope and parcel is met with huge amounts of excitement from the Epuni School children. Thank you again everyone, this means so much to all of us here.

Here’s a glimpse of some of the lovely koha that we have received lately:

Alex and Tilly from Blenheim sent in this beautiful drawing, along with a $20 note. We love how tall the sunflowers are in your picture Alex 🙂

Pip in Auckland posted us some seeds and liquid plant food. This is seriously useful stuff and we are really grateful – thanks heaps Pip!

Kaye from Grow from Here heard about Project Sunshine and asked if she could have a few packets of seeds, as she will plant them in many of the gardens she works in (check out the beautiful sunflowers on her website!).

In return, she kindly gave us two fruit trees: an apple and a mulberry (Poppy the baby is in the photo to give an idea of how big the trees are!) We will plant these trees in our orchard at the school. Sending you a great big sunshiney ‘hug of thanks’ Kaye.

Phil lives on Waiheke Island and sent us an awesome little package with chocolate, a dinosaur toy & this beautiful feather. He says it’s from a dinosaur. We love it!

Wow Emma – thank you *so* much for your amazing notebooks and pencils. The children were thrilled when they opened your parcel and can’t wait to use them for taking notes in the garden 🙂

Emma and Lucy gave us these packets of vegetable seeds. These are fantastic, as our little farmers will be able to grow them in the school garden and then cook them up for lunch!

Sheryll and Philip sent us some much-needed stamps. And we’ve already used them all up this week posting out over 60 envelopes, so they were incredibly useful.

Finally, today Emma from Heretaunga Kindergarten visited us and brought with her koha from the kindergarten children. Emma said:

“I discussed with the children what we should give as a koha, the most interesting was a picture of Africa and some dinosaur tails, however we have finally agreed on some worm wees from our worm farm. We are part of the enviroschools project so are enjoying the journey of sustainability too.”

And today she delivered two bottles of ‘worm wee’ to Epuni School. Ka rawe, ka pai! We really appreciate your thoughtfulness!


What’s the buzz

Our little farmers’ seed packets will be available at the Riverbank Market in Lower Hutt tomorrow morning (from very early ’til about lunchtime). We will also have sunflower seedlings for sale, and a limited amount of heritage tomato seedlings. All proceeds received will go towards funding a beehive at Epuni School. We’d love to see you there – come say hi!


This week has been an awesome arty week for Project Sunshine. It’s been really wet and windy here in Wellington, so instead of spending lots of time in the garden, we’ve snuggled up inside with lovely art supplies and decorated lots of seed packets.

This morning we had visitors from Epuni Kindergarten. The gorgeous little people turned up to the library for a book reading session and saw us painting seed packets. Julia told them all about the magic sunflowers and asked them to choose a packet of seeds. They chose the rainbow packet, which they have taken back to plant at their kindergarten.

Here are some of the beautiful seed packets that the Epuni School children decorated today. Check out the clever collage!

Beautiful bright colours here too!


This afternoon Project Sunshine was mentioned in the NZ Gardener Magazine‘s email ‘Get Growing’ newsletter. It gets emailed to lots of people around New Zealand and is full of interesting gardening tips and tricks, and advice on how to grow things like fruit and vegetables.

When the newsletter was emailed out, we started receiving lots of emails from people wanting packets of sunflower seeds. We posted out 14 envelopes this afternoon to Carterton, Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Ngaruawahia, Porirua, Blenheim, Northland and Gisborne and we have many, many more to send out over the weekend!

Sunshine and the city

[Today’s story comes from Philip. He has never grown sunflowers before *and* he lives several stories up in an apartment in Wellington! He shares his growing adventures below.]

The colourful envelope of sunflower seeds from Project Sunshine that arrived in my letterbox one blustery spring day brought with it the promise of summer. This was going to be like the pockets of cheery daffodils that had popped up on my street, but bigger and better. The next thing I needed was a bit of germination. Can’t be that hard, right?

I decided to try little peat pots inside my apartment, along with some rich seedling mix and my trusty spray bottle to keep them damp but not too wet. That’s when the performance anxiety started to kick in. After a few days my neighbour was already asking if the seeds had sprouted. Not yet, I said awkwardly. What say they didn’t? Why would they? Should I be doing it outside and not six floors up in an apartment building? After a week of germination angst I was rewarded with the first sprouts. They were the best and most beautiful sunflower shoots ever.

Seedlings in peat pots

Now most of the seeds I’ve planted have come up. A wise sunflower-growing friend suggested I get them to about 20 cms before planting them out. This will give them a better chance against greedy insects that love nothing more than to dine on tender sunflower shoots. At the rate they’re growing I might be planting them at Labour Weekend. I’ve scoped a few likely spots in the garden outside my building. Perhaps in among the daisies, or by the block wall out front which gets great sun. Or maybe on the bank by the tagged garages next door?


Block wall


Beautiful and bright: painting sunflower seed packets

Yesterday it was a bit windy to be outside. So instead of tending to their garden, the Project Sunshine team embraced their artistic side and set about painting lots of sunflower seed packets.

With a brush in hand, our little farmers turned into little artists and created some absolutely stunning works of art.

The theme of the day was ‘loving our bees’ and each child painted a bee on a seed packet, as well as sunflowers and hearts and anything else sunshiney that captured their imagination.

We then let the works of art dry and enjoyed looking at all the bright colours on display.

Look at all the beautiful bees! These packets are going to contain a very special sort of sunflower seed – keep watching this space to find out more…


Project Sunshine in the Gulf News

Thank you Phil and Tanya from Waiheke Island, for featuring us in the amazing children’s page ‘Imagined Worlds’, in the Gulf News. You can read the full text of the children’s page below.

It is pretty special that our seeds have travelled all the way up the country to Waiheke Island, where they’ll be grown in the community Food Forest. We hope the sunflowers bring a golden glow to the garden there, and look forward to hearing how they go.

Grow well little seeds!

What’s the buzz

For our update this week, we’re sharing a few of the awesome letters we’ve received. Term 4 started with an armful of letters and packages – we love all this mail!

Lots of mail!


Kapiti Primary


A special thanks to Julie from Napier, Kapiti Primary School and Denise from Auckland for their beautiful letters. We hope our seeds grow big and tall, and bloom beautifully for you all 🙂

Sharing and kindness

Our little project is starting to feel like something quite special indeed, as we have started receiving envelopes and handfuls full of koha for the children at Epuni School. We’ve also received envelopes with financial donations and bank payments as well – and so far we’ve fundraised over $100 to go towards beehives at the school.

Wow! Thank you everybody – this means so much to us, and really shows the children that acts of kindness do go a long way.

We thought you might like to see some of the lovely things that people have posted, delivered or handed to us to give to the Project Sunshine children:


Sam from Hamilton grows giant pumpkins. He has an awesome website full of growing information and tips and tricks on how to grow the biggest, fattest and best giant pumpkin! In exchange for a packet of sunflower seeds, Sam sent a packet of giant pumpkins seeds for the children to grow, along with some good planting information.


Diane Turner gave us a selection of bean seeds she has saved from her own garden. Some of the beans are heritage varieties and Diane also sent some lovely stories about the history of the plants – where they came from, who introduced them into New Zealand and how the beans are best eaten.

Tutaekuri potatoes from Rob

Rob gave us a handful of purple tutaekuri Maori potatoes. These look and taste different to the sort of potatoes you usually see for sale in markets and the supermarkets. Rob says they grow really well and are beautiful in salads. They’re also bright purple on the inside and we can’t wait to see how they grow.

Envelopes and stamps from Kara

Kara gave us a large amount of envelopes and a box of stamps, so we can keep sending out packets of seeds around the country. This has helped us immensely – thanks Kara!

Jam from Kelda

Kelda is an awesome chef at Nikau Cafe, jam maker extraordinaire, and a gardener at the Brooklyn Community Orchard. In exchange for a few packets of seed for the orchard, Kelda gave us these beautiful jars of jam and marmalade for the children and other helpers at Epuni School. We think it will be absolutely delicious on the Purebread that is frequently gifted to the children at Epuni School. Such a treat 🙂