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 Schoolย 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

What’s the buzz

Sunshine Day at the Dowse on Sunday was so much fun! We spread our blankets under John Reynolds’ Titoki Gallery and helped visitors make sunshine necklaces, turn milk bottles into watering cans and paint seed packets. Lots of people had their faces and arms painted, coloured in our ‘how sunflowers grow’ page and drew their own bee designs on Project Sunshine stickers – then took home seeds and seedlings for a gold coin donation. You can check out more photos from the day here.

We also launched our special limited edition packs of red sunflower seeds. Each packet contains 12 red sunflower seeds – these plants grow tall like the Giant Russian variety and range from deep red to beautiful rusty-coloured petals. We’re selling these for $3 a packet, so please get in touch if you’d like some.

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We love hearing from people with updates about how their seeds are growing. Sam from Giant Pumpkins NZ shared us this awesome photo, along with his beautiful 4-legged friend in the background:

Jennifer in the Bay of Plenty has just finished planting out her sunflower seedlings – 47 in total. They’re going to look amazing once they’re fully-grown and flowering!

Our friend Shane sent us an update on the sunflowers that the Epuni School children planted at Carrara Park in Newtown. He says “Sunflowers and swan plants growing in Carrara Park, Newtown, not all survived but the ones that have are looking strong…thanks Kids and Julia Milne”

And Catherine headed along to see how the plants in Glover Park were doing – they’re just outside Radio Active in Wellington:

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Hataitai School in Wellington has set up their own Emerald Army gardening blog, and are encouraging every child in the school to “bring in their own reused planting box to grow their sunflower seedlings in – the wackier the better”. Check out their blog to see some of the awesome planters that have been brought in so far!

Doubtless Bay Kindergarten

Doubtless Bay Kindergarten in Northland also emailed us their blog, to let us know that their “seeds are cosy in their planter box and we are patiently waiting and watering!”

Sunshine Day at the Dowse – Sunday 24 November 2013

Hello lovely sunshiney people!

Come and celebrate sunflowers, our communities and bees with us this Sunday. Our Sunshine Dayย is at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt from 10.00 – 11.30am.

Our Sunshine Mobile is stacked with sunflower seeds and seedlings, which will be available to take home for a gold coin donation – including our special limited edition ‘mystery seeds‘.

If you bring along an empty milk bottle, we’ll show you how to make it into a handy watering can. You can also make your own beautiful bee sticker, string together an awesome Project Sunshine necklace, colour in a sunflower page, chalk up the pavement and take part in other fun craft activities.

If the weather is lovely we will stay on longer outside under the trees with art activities, picnic blankets and maybe even some cake!

We’d love to see you on Sunday, so please come and say hi ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

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.ย 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?

Garden

Block wall

Garages