Mitre 10 is lending a helping hand to green-fingered kids across the country as they dig into the Tui School Garden Challenge this month.

Entries are set to open next week for the competition, which last year saw more than 600 pre-school, primary and intermediate schools across the country design, plan and grow a garden on their school grounds in the hopes of winning a top prize.

The competition officially begins on July 23 and runs until October 26, giving each school three months to really get their gardens growing. Gardens will then be judged on design, their innovation and environmental elements such as recycling and composting.

All schools that register will receive a free resource pack and the first 200 to enter also receive a starter pack, including growing media, seed raising mix, seeds, a gardening book, tools and seedlings.

Tui Products Ltd managing director Don Forgie says the gardens entered in last year’s competition were of an extremely high standard and he expects competition this year will be even tougher.

“We saw some great innovation last year and our judges are hoping schools will come up with even more creative ways to get their gardens growing sustainably in 2012.”

After the competition closes, entries will be narrowed down to 10-15 finalists, who will then receive visits from the judges, with the top three and overall winner being announced on November 19.

The finalists and top three will all receive prize packs including tools from Mitre 10 and gardening supplies from Tui, with the overall winner also receiving $1000 of Tui vouchers and $1000 of Mitre 10 vouchers.

For the first time in 2012, additional prizes will be given to the school which collects the most points during the three month competition. Points can be earned by customers as well as schools by purchasing Tui products from Mitre 10 and Mitre 10 MEGA stores and then sending the receipts to their local school.

Schools can now enter the Tui School Garden Challenge by visiting www.tuigarden.co.nz/school-garden-challenge .

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