Woodhaven Gardens - Case Study

Description of the local context and needs: 

In Horowhenua, Primary Industries account for 13.2% of the local economy, compared with 6.3% in the national economy. In employment by broad sector, Primary Industries account for 15.2% in Horowhenua District compared with 5.9% in New Zealand. 

In order to introduce students to a range of employment opportunities in the horticultural sector in the region, this tactical initiative was formed between Get-Go, Horowhenua College and Woodhaven Gardens.

Description of Service Delivery Activities: 

Get-Go supported the facilitation and engagement between Woodhaven and Horowhenua College. With the impact of COVID, the College was very interested in outdoor experiences and Woodhaven had some time available to host the event. It involved an on-site experience with Year 11 and 12 Horticulture Academy Classes from Horowhenua College invited. 20 students, teachers and the Get-Go team from THCL attended on site at Woodhaven Gardens.

The project has now resulted in planning for on-going engagement between the College and Woodhaven Gardens, with students interacting on a bi-monthly basis to understand more about the primary sector, horticulture and the range of potential employment pathways available in their own district. 

Voices of the person/people as part of their movement along the project 

The consensus from Woodhaven, teachers and students was seeing things in action and having a ‘hands-on’ experience made it a very positive and successful project.

Gay Congdon, Horticulture Academy Lead Teacher:

“This was a great day, especially the harvesting of pumpkins. It’s a really good experience for our students to have a hands on taste of the 

kind of work that happens here. They can see how the plants are grown, the importance of the local economy (for us) but also the impact on the national economy.

It’s been a really good experience having this connection with Woodhaven, and it’s going to be an ongoing one for us. We are able to give our students opportunities but not just in horticulture, they’re actually learning what is involved in all our primary sectors. “ 

Grant Congdon, Principal Tumuaki, Horowhenua College 

“The day went really well and Adam (from  Woodhaven) was excellent with the  students. Having a smaller amount of time to do the pumpkin picking was a good idea  as the students are not used to that level of  physical work. They got the job done though  so I hope it was helpful to Woodhaven! 

The ongoing proposal is for there to be a  half day per month made available by  Woodhaven for our students to participate  

in. With there being 2 Horticultural classes  in the Academy they may alternate these so  each class gets a visit every 2 months.“

Student 1: “So today, I’ve learned how to cut pumpkins properly and put them in a line. I reckon  it’s real good and what I’m going to take away with me today is in the future hopefully get a job  picking pumpkins or some other veges.” 

Student 2: “It’s been really fun to come out and do productive and actual work. It’s been really  fun out here to actually get to pick pumpkins and be ‘hands on’.”

Adam Jory, Operations Manager, Woodhaven Gardens  

“What I hope the students take home from today is to realise all the steps that go into producing  food, how important it is to look after the product that you’re harvesting, and how that is only  one step of many that goes into producing food.  

I’m hoping that they have a positive experience, and that we can repeat this exercise over the  coming school year. “

Achievements and learning in terms of enabling people to upskill and or be linked to employment 

By connecting such a large employer in the Horowhenua district with students at a key age  when they are starting to make real decisions about their future means they have new areas of  employment to consider. Many students do not want to leave the district, and this hands-on  experience gave them a new understanding about the importance of Horowhenua’s primary  industries to the region and throughout Aotearoa.  

Many students did not realise the range of employment opportunities within a short distance  from where they live. It gave the students a new understanding not only of the reason there is  such a vibrant horticultural and agricultural industry, but also gave them an overview of the  kinds of roles that there are at Woodhaven and other similar businesses in the region. They  gained understanding about the importance of soil quality, the impact of urban growth and how  housing has displaced some of the key growing areas in the country.  

Woodhaven and other Primary Industry employers in Horowhenua have had on-going issues  finding employees and have had to rely on migrant workers to fill the gaps. By continuing to  engage with students, there is the very real possibility of recruiting local people to the workforce  in Horowhenua.  

Longer term, this project has resulted in a desire by Woodhaven Gardens to continue engaging  and upskilling students from Horowhenua College, to impart knowledge around horticulture in  the region.  

A video summary of the project is available here: https://vimeo.com/701503029