The winners of the Young Gardener of the Year Awards are finally ready to be announced. After searching New Zealand primary schools T&G and Garden to Table have finally found the five most exceptional gardeners, aged between 7 and 11, and the gardening school of the year.

Emma Walsh, age 7, from North Canterbury took out one of the top spots. Her mum says: “Gardening for Emma is a source of wonder, connection with others, peace, calm and pride.”

Quincey Mennell, age 10, from West Auckland was another winner. One of his proudest moments was when seeds from an apple core he had eaten grew to become saplings after much care and attention.

Another North Cantabrian, John Lundy, aged 7, was also one of the top five winners. “I get to garden at school and at home. I take pride in our school gardens and use what we grow to cook with in our Garden to Table cooking classes.” Said John.

Winner Maima Leru, aged 10, from Lower Hutt, Wellington says, “I love everything about gardening. I love propagating. Last year, we took cuttings with our garden teacher and grew Chinese lantern plants.”

The final winner to round out the top five was Freddie Meere, aged 10, from Waiheke, Auckland. “I’ve learnt a lot about gardening and am intrigued by how fun it is. But my favourite part is eating! In the garden, it’s a nice peaceful space and I like looking at the plants and smelling the lavender.” Said Freddie.

Haumoana School from Hastings, Hawkes Bay was the winner of the 2017 T&G Garden to Table School of the Year Award. Teacher John Lovell says, “The children absolutely thrive on the opportunities provided by the Garden to Table programme. Be-it in the kitchen or the garden, they are totally engaged and thoroughly enjoy the opportunity for ‘hands on’ real life learning.” Diamond Harbour school, in Banks Peninsula and Forrest Hill School from the North Shore, Auckland were awarded second and third place in the school of the year competition.

The judges; New Zealand gardening journalist and broadcaster, Lynda Hallinan; acclaimed New Zealand chef and restaurateur, Al Brown; executive officer at Garden to Table, Linda Taylor and executive general manager of NZ produce at T&G Global, Andrew Keaney had a tough job with 70 children and schools applying to take part in the competition.

The T&G Garden to Table Young Gardener of the Year Awards will run again next year with the hope to empower even more young gardeners.