What is Project Sunshine?
At Project Sunshine, we create beautiful spaces and plantings in Aotearoa, New Zealand. We provide people with sunflower seeds so that everyone can create living works of art by planting sunflowers en masse in their local communities. If you’d like some seeds, please email us at: projectsunshineaotearoa(at)gmail(dot)com.
History of the project
Project Sunshine was created by the Great Start Taita children’s gardening club in 2010, when the club planted hundreds of sunflower seedlings through the streets of Taita to make their community more beautiful. Once the seeds were sown and started growing, something magical happened: the sunflowers generated pride and joy among the children and adults alike. The project also supported residents to build connections with each other and with their physical environment.
As the children learned about sunflowers they also learned about the importance of bees, and their current plight. They realised that sunflower planting could help other children to make their communities beautiful, build connections between people and also ensure the survival of the bee population.
In 2010, many seedlings were planted in unloved and vandalised/graffiti ridden areas, with a little note tied to the sunflower stalk that said who the gift was from. The end result was amazing: less damage was done to these areas and there was a huge increase in community pride. Some sunflower trails led to ‘help yourself’ vegetable gardens that had been planted in conjunction as well.
In November 2011, the children of Epuni School embraced and nurtured the project and held a planting day with the planting of a large sunflower field in the school gardens on 22 November 2011. They planted 500 sunflowers in conjunction with four other local schools as a community-strengthening event, as well as providing some much needed foraging for bees. They created garden beds to resemble sun rays using a cardboard base topped with grass clippings and then planted the seeds into pockets of compost within the decomposing grass. They notified their community about Project Sunshine via leaflet drops and the plantings went from the school to the students’ homes and out into the community.
What we want to do next
Our latest lot of Giant Russian sunflower seeds were harvested by the children in March 2013. The Epuni students are now busy counting the seeds into packets to distribute to other schools throughout NZ.
We want our project to spread and grow throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand and to fill our communities with golden sunflowers! If you would like to take part in Project Sunshine, then please just drop us a line at: projectsunshineaotearoa(at)gmail(dot)com. We’re happy to send out packets of seed, and simply ask for a small koha (donation) to cover postage costs.
Please then email us or drop us a line via Facebook to let us know what happened to the seeds. The students would love to know where the seeds go, who has received them and what happened to them once the packet has been planted – we’d love to feature your story here on our blog. We’ve even created a special map that shows where seeds have been sent to-date in New Zealand.
Project Sunshine is sister project to the CommonUnity Project Aotearoa. CommonUnity is a community-based urban farm project, based at Epuni School in Lower Hutt, Wellington. We are a registered charitable trust and spend our time growing food, teaching cooking, self sufficiency, and making art projects. We also focus on connecting our families into up-skilling and work experience opportunities in the wider community.