School students are helping turn quake-damaged red zoned land green again at the Climate Action Campus in Ōtautahi/Christchurch.

They come from more than 20 schools and are involved in projects to help bring about positive environmental change.

The campus is located on the original home of Avonside Girls’ High School, left neglected after the quakes.

The 10-hectare site also includes four hectares of red zoned land adjacent to the school site, leased from the Christchurch City Council.

Sandi Bobkova is the head horticulturist and one of three teachers at the campus.

“We do lots of different education programmes mainly centred around climate action, so things like regenerative horticulture, organics, and we’ve got beehives out of the red zone, so the kids can learn about beekeeping.”

Students are also involved in planting in the red zone, checking the water in the nearby Ōtākaro/ Avon River and looking at energy sources. The campus is also being used as a case study for a Landcare Research project.

And, this year, a refugee group from Hagley Community College is coming to the campus to grow, learn and share knowledge.

“I love the idea of them being able to have their own plots with things that are traditional for them,” Bobkova told Country Life.

“I’m sure I’ll learn stuff from them and I’ll hopefully be able to teach them a few things.”

Several vegetable gardens and a chicken run have taken over the grassy areas within the old school grounds and the netball courts have been converted into a nursery.

“This is where we do all the propagation and seed starting and all that kind of stuff.”

In the red zone next door, residential houses have been replaced by tunnel houses and a newly planted fruit and nut orchard.

The last original school building was demolished recently and has left a muddy space near the vegetable gardens.

“Because the building was there, the land’s contaminated, so we can’t grow food on it.

“Now we have this enormous cleared space which, hopefully in the near future, will become a solar farm with wildflowers underneath it.”

The Climate Action Campus is running a market on March 2.

By Cosmo Kentish-Barnes of rnz.co.nz

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