Keepers of the fruit forest in Arataki

- Arataki School students tending to weeds at the base of a plum tree. Photo: Georgia Minkhorst.

Budding young gardeners got stuck in earlier this week, helping care for fruit trees that will feed the community’s belly for years to come.

Based in Arataki Park, the ‘Fruit Forest’ is an initiative spearheaded by charity organisations Kai Resilience and PiPS – short for People and Plants in Schools.

“We started this four years ago with arborists from Tauranga City Council who have put these trees in, and so the whole idea of this it to take some community ownership, create some signage for the trees and get the kids involved,” says PiPS’ Heidi Hughes.

The Fruit Forest is a community asset open to anyone and everyone for free fruit, with a range of apple, plum, orange, satsuma, mandarin and pear trees.

Arataki School’s Jared Miller, Grae Illingworth and Jasmine Berry loading up their spades with mulch for the trees. Photo: Georgia Minkhorst.

On Tuesday, December 5, TCC arborists were on-site, sharing knowledge with the Arataki School kids on identifying trees, caring for them and how to correctly mulch them so they grow better.

“It’s best to start at a young age and to teach them the benefits of having the trees in the community,” says TCC arborist Hemi Wallace.

Arataki School student Jasmine Berry says: “I like to learn about trees because I like eating the fruit”. “I hope the students grow a passion towards trees and become our tree protectors for the future,” says Hemi.

Amy Board, of Western Bay of Plenty Kai Resilience, says her charity works across WBOP to improve food resilience and local food systems. “I’m really passionate about fruit tree orchards in public spaces because it’s educational, and it’s providing an opportunity for the public to eat fruit straight from the tree.”

Arataki School’s Zoey Dick getting stuck into the mulch. Photo: Georgia Minkhorst.

Next, students will make signs for the trees to educate the public and let them know what fruit is growing. “My hope is they’ll learn more about fruit trees be inspired to plant a tree or garden in their own backyard,” says Amy.

WBOP Kai Resilience is on the lookout for more volunteers to care for the trees. Get in touch and/or register, at:

Arataki School’s Aroha Townhill, Jared Miller and Luke Pick helping out at the Fruit Forest. Photo: Georgia Minkhorst.

Arataki School’s Aroha Townhill, Jasmine Berry and Zoey Dick at the Fruit Forest in Arataki Park. Photo: Georgia Minkhorst.

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