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Homemade taro exam underway at a school in South Auckland

Is it possible to grow cold-tolerant Japanese taro-rich and nutritious crops in Auckland instead of imported Pacific taro?

That’s the question that Otahufu University students will investigate.

This is part of the latest round of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) project, funded by South Sci to help more than 400 young people in South Auckland find science-based solutions to community problems. Participate in a project to do.

The Te Hononga Akoranga – COMET initiative, South Sci, is part of Curious Minds, a government strategic plan that encourages everyone in New Zealand to engage in science and technology.

Malcolm McAllister, a teacher at Otafufu University, said he wondered if the Pacific Islands’ staple food could be grown in New Zealand when a friend of Samoa said that imported taro was as expensive as $ 9 corms. However, there were some negatives, so he began to explore a Japanese taro variety called taro.

“Taros are sweeter and softer than Pacific taros. The island family appreciates the firm starch quality of imported taros because they travel longer than freshly dug taros. It’s dry, “says Malcolm.

I thought that Japanese taro, which has high cold resistance, is cultivated productively in Auckland and produces enough corms to feed the family, which suits the local taste. “

Part of a banana-like trial

The university project will try to plant not only taro, but also plantain, which looks like a solid banana.

Malcolm says it tastes like a big, sweet and firm banana, but retains its shape when cooked.

“Cut it diagonally and fry it gently until it turns golden. It complements spicy dishes like chili peppers. It is widely eaten throughout the Caribbean, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Ocean.”

Both taro and plantain are rich in nutrients and have a lower glycemic index than other starches such as rice and potatoes.

Malcolm has never tried taro, but he often eats plantain. Neither is part of Auckland’s diet as they are not generally available.

“Imported green plantains that are sometimes sold here take a week to ripen and can procrastinate people. Here, green bananas with boiled coconut cream are the staple food.” He says.

The university project has received approximately $ 20,000 in South Sci funding and has received in-kind and donations from many partners.

Potential to improve community welfare

Ying Yang, manager of South Sci, said he was pleased to support this project. “We have checked all the boxes because the project provides students with a scientifically robust educational experience while also addressing issues that may improve the well-being of the community.”

In this project, it is better to plant different types of bananas, including plantain, and how they grow in protected areas, how long it takes to flower, bear fruit, and ripen, in circles or lines. Please check.

Malcolm says the focus is on the best taste.

“If plantains are more widely available, maybe more people will eat them,” he says.

“It’s beautifully cooked and goes well with many things,” he said.

Use cultural customs

According to Malcolm, the students will use the traditional cultural methods of growing taro with the help of a local gardener.

Malcolm teaches art at the University of Otahufu, but he is an avid gardener.

He was involved when he heard that he wanted to do something in a horticultural area where the university was no longer in use.

A bee working to clear the site was held. The 60 worker bees on July 30 included university (including Garden Club) students, staff, parents, nearby Papatoe Toe Higashi Elementary School, and Bunnings staff.

Support from local businesses

The team created 57 no-dig beds on cardboard donated by Opal Packaging. The Anne Berry Park Center Equestrian School donated horse manure, and Bunnings donated compost and sleepers for edging. Mainfreight donated planter boxes and shipping containers, painted them and shipped them to the site.

Stihl East Tāmaki donated gardening machinery and safety equipment, PGG Wrightson and Daltons donated gardening supplies, and Deane Apparel donated a box of overalls. Miter 10 donated two wheelbarrows.

Kiwi Rail’s team used the Garden Club on Math Day to measure the garden and formed a team of four from Gleason Civil to clean up the top layers of the Kikuyu and gravel with bargains and bobcats.

Undeveloped garden February 5, 2021

“The school’s horticultural team would have had a hard time even making dents in the abandoned area without the practical support of these companies,” Malcolm says.

What a transformation. Otafufu University Garden Bed in August 2021

He says it’s refreshing to see how enthusiastic students are, especially those who helped relatives care for taro beds here in New Zealand, and worked on plantations and farms in the Pacific Islands. ..

Practical gardening skills

Students will learn all the practical skills of gardening and how to do it within budget. For example, I made a bamboo frame and made a net crotch to keep cats and pukeko away.

“They learn all the basics of horticulture in a practical way, including soil types, plant anatomy, growth measurements, and the importance of water and temperature,” says Malcolm.

The teacher’s aide Helen Mulrennan and the students Race and Louis work in the garden bed.

“We are still setting up a garden outside the abandoned area. We have installed a no-dig bed for the simple reason of minimizing weeding. The next step has come. The taro is on the ground. And plant the rest of the garden. “

The university is looking for funding to buy other plants such as perennials, vegetables and herbs and set up water harvesting and irrigation in the area before the summer. The hut and greenhouse also need repair.

Malcolm hopes to be able to harvest the fastest growing vegetables in the coming months. Produce is provided to students, the hospitality department of the university, or sold to staff.

The project will continue until 2022, as other plantings are expected to mature in late summer.

Yin Yang says he hopes the project can foster interest in a horticultural career.

“There are so many aspects of STEM involved in growing crops. Students will be exposed to all these different areas, from measuring the amount of soil needed, understanding the nutrient cycle, to plant biology and horticulture. I hope that.

“This project also connects students with role models working in various STEM industries and shows the potential career paths they can pursue.”

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For more information:

COMET website cometauckland.org.nz

Is here Link to treatise Janet Bush studied and wrote about taro while she worked at Lincoln University.

Homemade taro exam underway at a school in South Auckland

Source link Homemade taro exam underway at a school in South Auckland

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