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Year 6 - 7 students

Our food garden

Ā mātou mārā kai​.

New Zealand Curriculum connections
NZC connections provide a starting point for aligning the content and inquiry on this page with NZC achievement aims, including core subjects like mathematics and English.


Investigating in science (NoS). 

  • Ask questions, find evidence, explore simple models, and carry out appropriate investigations to develop simple explanations.

  • Build on prior experiences, working together to share and examine their own and others’ knowledge.


Communicating in science (NoS).

  • Begin to use a range of scientific symbols, conventions, and vocabulary.


Understanding about science (NoS). 

  • Identify ways in which scientists work together and provide evidence to support their ideas.

  • Appreciate that science is a way of explaining the world and that science knowledge changes over time.

Participating and contributing (NoS). 

  • Explore and act on issues and questions that link their science learning to their daily living.

Interacting systems (L3). Investigate the water cycle and its effect on climate, landforms, and life. 


Social sciences (L3). Understand how people make decisions about access to and use of resources. 


Earth systems (L3). Appreciate that water, air, rocks and soil, and life forms make up our planet and recognise that these are also Earth’s resources. 

Related Big Ideas and Science Concepts

Big ideas - Our food garden

Overview: Our food garden

Key messages
  • Soil is a living system
  • Healthy soil depends on the condition of all soil components: biological, chemical and physical. 
  • Soil can be managed by people to make it productive in a sustainable way,
Related information

Soil as a living system​

  • Soil is teeming with life. The living organisms of soil make up about 25% of the biomass on earth.

  • A healthy soil is a living system with millions of soil organisms, big and small, working to process nutrients and to aerate the soil. The living soil organisms are very important in nutrient cycling as they consume the dead organic matter and release the nutrients contained in this dead organic matter back into the soil.

  • Without the physical (soil particles made up of organic matter, clay, sand and silt) and the chemical (water, and nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) components there would be no place for the soil organisms to live in or feed on.

  • If soil only has chemical and physical components (no living components) its ability to support food production is reduced.

  • Water that is held in the soil is called the soil solution. If there is no soil solution plants can’t get nutrients or water. 

  • Plants take up soil-borne nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) from the soil solution through their roots.

  • The nutrients taken up by plants enter the food chain when animals including humans eat those plants.

  • When plants are harvested the nutrients they contain are removed from the soil; these must be replaced if soil is to continue to support plant growth and food production.

  • Farmers and gardeners add nutrients to the soil in the form of fertilisers and compost to ensure that plants have sufficient nutrients for healthy growth.

  • Farmers are able to test soils for nutrient content and based on those tests add nutrients in the right amount at the right time.  By managing nutrients carefully we can keep soil systems healthy and productive.  


Learning resources

Alternative ideas about soil: Science Learning Hub
Plants need feeding video

Inquiry suggestions

Support is available for schools that want to create edible and sustainable gardens.
This inquiry seeks to encourage students to research and develop a plan for making a garden at school or home, Students will:
  • Choose where to create the garden and what kind of plants to include

  • Discover the resources needed to create a garden, and the costs of those resources.

How do you make a sustainable garden?
School gardens clipart
Learn about soil differences

​Students gather soil samples from their local area to observe soil differences by comparing their soil samples. 

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:​

  • Offer simple explanations about why the soil samples are different

  • Use online resources to view soil profiles and a New Zealand soil map.


Publishing provides an opportunity to integrate science capabilities or different curriculum areas.
There is a story in the inquiry 'How do you make a sustainable garden?'
Telling a story visually and sharing it with your community through your students can be a powerful way of engaging on the topic of soil, food and society.

Related resources 

Our food, feeding the world
Find related activities about food in your town and food for the world in the MPI Te Ao Tūroa resources.
Use NZ Young Farmers resources and plan a visit to a sheep and beef farm
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