Christmas Feast 2013: shiny on the inside!

This week we danced to the sweet tunes of MC Babysteppers, we dipped candles, we ate sweet food cooked by Rachel Priestley, and we face-painted and ate ice cream from CommonSense Organics. We celebrated our Christmas party in style with our hard-working little farmers at Epuni School!

Julia has written a ‘thank you’ list over on our Facebook page here, where you can also see more pictures from the day’s events.

Here are a few other photos from our AWESOME Christmas party:

Rachel Priestley from Prodigal Daughter prepared 25kg of potatoes, 10kg of pork, 16 chickens and fed everyone an incredible meal.

Jacqui and Sue, the green forest angels from CommonSense Organics in Lower Hutt, donated ice cream for each of the children. I’ve never seen ice cream disappear so quickly before!

Sue from SuperVery generously gave us all of these beautiful Winnie-the-Pooh badges that she offered as a koha in return for sunflower seeds. We handed them out to all of the Epuni School children as an early Christmas gift:

Our farmers had sunflowers and other beautiful motifs painted on their faces:

And they dipped candles and made stunning colourful Christmas gifts, which they could take home.

Our feast featured in the DomPost the next day too. Thanks again to everyone who helped make this day super special!

Wishing everyone a very sunshiney Christmas season – we’ll be back in the New Year with more sunflower updates, and hopefully lots more photos that show how everyone’s sunflowers are growing.


Koha in the mail this week

Julia has been saving up the mail, and handed me a beautiful bunch of letters and parcels this week.

Thank you Riccarton Primary School in Christchurch, Kelburn Playcentre in Wellington and Putiki Kindergarten in Whanganui for your lovely letters and seeds:

We received this beautiful letter from the tamariki o Nga Hau e Wha at Merivale School in Tauranga, as well as some kamokamo seeds and information about how to grow them. Kia ora – we can’t wait to plant these seeds!

And finally, thank you Mary Ann in Auckland for this amazing sunflowery apron! We think it’s seriously cool and so perfect for our little farmers. I bet there’ll be a race in the kitchen to see who gets to wear it first 😉

Sunshine awards at Epuni School

At Epuni School we’ve started the ‘Sunshine Awards’, to acknowledge the good things and deeds that are associated with Project Sunshine and to encourage our little farmers to look for the goodness in others.

These awards also recognise that everyone faces different challenges – what is easy for one person might be a struggle for someone else. By focusing on the goodness in people, we also hope to encourage a culture of understanding and tolerance.

This morning we created a ‘Sunshine Corner’ at Epuni School. A map of New Zealand covers one wall and will soon be covered in several hundred pins, to show all the places our seeds have been sent! Our Sunshine Mobile snuggles happily in the corner, and a mail board shows some of the beautiful letters that we’ve received from people all round the country. This sunshine corner is also the home of the Sunshine Awards.

The awards are led by the students: if they see an act of kindness, goodness or courage then they write the person’s name on a piece of paper, explaining why they think the person should receive an award, and then place the piece of paper in the sunshine awards box:

We then give out the sunshine awards during the ‘family time’ assembly on Monday morning. The awards are a special cardboard charm on a finger-knitted necklace.

Each award recipient can choose one hand-coloured charm to add to their necklace. The necklaces will have a range of charms added to them over time – each one becomes a living artwork, worn with pride by our little farmers.

We love capturing some of the goodness that radiates out from Project Sunshine and our Epuni children love their Sunshine Awards!

What’s the buzz

Our Project Sunshine stall at the Riverbank Market in Lower Hutt last Saturday was great fun. Bella and Tāne managed our stall on a gorgeous sunny morning. Lots of people gave us donations for sunflower seedlings and seed packets, and for Common Unity heritage tomato plants – it was a lovely way to meet lots of new people!


Look at all these envelopes full of sunflower seeds! These are about half the envelopes that we’ve posted out to people all around New Zealand this week.

We’ve received over 85 emails from people in NZ, from the top of the country in Northland, all the way down to Gore in the South Island. One of our favourite emails contained a fantastic bit of history about Epuni School:

Hi Kids at Epuni school,
I would love to have some sunflower seeds to plant in my garden.
When I was small I attended Epuni school, in the 1950’s, and recently I visited Lower Hutt and took a ‘trip down memory lane’, it was such a pleasure to stroll through the grounds of Epuni school and admire the marvellous garden out in the back field.
I remember I had James K Baxter for a teacher one year, his only foray into teaching, a wonderful and inspiring teacher, I remember when he left, telling my parents “he’s leaving to go to a poet factory” and their amusement… I hope the school continues to be a happy place of learning in the local community, well done on such a great garden.


We received these colourful letters from Mrs Green and Waipu Primary School – they’re up the top of North Island too! It’s great to hear that their seeds have sprouted already, and we hope the plants are growing well. The seedlings must be getting quite tall by now?


If you’d like some of our sunflower seeds and you know someone who works in the Xero office in Wellington, then get in touch with them! Our seed packets are available there for a donation, and are sitting on the Xero kitchen bench. (Thank you Simon for helping us out!)

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

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 🙂