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Rabobank teams up with Garden to Table to develop kids’ skills in the garden and kitchen

Agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank New Zealand has announced a new principal partnership agreement with national food education charity Garden to Table to empower tamariki across New Zealand to grow, harvest, prepare and share great food.

The partnership was officially launched earlier today at Dominion Road school in central Auckland – one of the many schools across New Zealand currently participating in the Garden to Table programme – and will enable further expansion of the programme in the years ahead.

Rabobank New Zealand Chief Executive Todd Charteris said the new partnership would build on the organisations’ shared values around sustainable food production, health and well-being, agri education and growing stronger communities.

“Many of us would agree that over recent decades we’ve seen a general decline in knowledge and skills in the garden and kitchen. And this decline in basic life-skills is a contributing factor towards negative environmental, health and social impacts,” he said.


Rabobank New Zealand CEO Todd Charteris

“These include increased childhood obesity, growing food insecurity, increased food waste, and higher instances of depression and anxiety among young people. And recent soaring food price inflation and extreme weather events across the country have only acted to further compound these problems.”

Mr Charteris said the partnership would help address some of these issues by improving Kiwi kids’ knowledge and skills in the garden and kitchen.

“Development of these skills among young people is so important as the new skills picked up by children in these sessions serve them well throughout the rest of their lives,” he said.

“We’re really excited to come on board with Garden to Table and to work alongside them to further expand the critical work they’ve been doing in this area.”

Garden To Table’s role in growing stronger communities

Established in 2008, Garden to Table is a charitable trust that supports primary and intermediate schools and kura to take learning out of the classroom and into the garden and kitchen.

Last year, more than 26,000 children and more than 250 New Zealand schools took part in the Garden to Table Programme preparing over one million fresh seasonal meals.

Garden to Table sessions are 90 minutes in length with half the class in the garden and the other half in the kitchen. The sessions conclude with the class coming together for a shared meal.

“Schools involved in the programme tell us it positively impacts health, social and education outcomes and improves environmental awareness,” Garden to Table CEO Ani Brunet said.

“We also know that children participating in the sessions take their new skills home with them and look to recreate the recipes with their families. And, as a result, the programme not only benefits the kids, but also the communities they live in.”

Ms Brunet said she was delighted to partner with Rabobank as the bank’s support would enable Garden to Table to grow the programme across Aotearoa New Zealand.

“The programme is currently in about 10 per cent of New Zealand primary and intermediate schools and our intention is to grow our community of schools throughout the country in the years ahead,” she said.

“With Rabobank’s support, we aim to have the programme thriving in more than 500 schools and reaching in excess of 50,000 students by 2027.”

Opportunities for Rabobank staff

Mr Charteris said the new partnership would provide opportunities for Rabobank teams to get involved with Garden to Table sessions across the country.

“Our staff will have the chance to get involved with Garden to Table sessions via their community leave day – a day that’s made available to our employees each year to help out at a charity organisation in their local area,” he said.

“We’ll also be looking to get Garden to Table involved in some of the key events we attend throughout the year like the regional and national field days.”

Rabobank Community Fund

The new partnership will be funded by the Rabobank Community Fund – an entity that was launched by the bank in 2021.

Funded by an annual contribution from Rabobank New Zealand, the Rabo Community Fund is invested in a range of initiatives that benefit rural and regional communities around New Zealand as identified by the bank’s local client councils.

The bank’s client councils are groups of Rabobank’s farming clients located across New Zealand who work with the bank to address key industry and community challenges in farming and agribusiness.

Donna Arnold, the chair of Rabobank’s Upper North Island Client Council, said agricultural education is one of the key focus areas for the client councils.

“We recognise that for New Zealand’s agricultural sector to thrive, it’s important that young Kiwis from both rural and urban New Zealand have a basic understanding of how food can be grown and prepared in an environmentally-friendly way,” she said.

“Over the last decade, the client councils have developed and supported a range of initiatives to improve knowledge and understanding of the agricultural sector among secondary school students and, in recent years, we’ve started to investigate what more we can do to support learning in this area for children attending primary or intermediate schools.”

Ms Arnold said the members of the client council network met with Garden to Table in October last year and were really impressed by what they saw of the Garden to Table programme.

“It’s clearly a programme the kids thoroughly enjoy and the client council network is thrilled to throw our support in behind it,” she said.

“This is a fantastic new partnership for the bank and the client councils as it’s all about investing in New Zealand’s tamariki and their future.”

Garden to Table Fact File

In 2022:

More than 250 New Zealand schools and 26,000 students took part in the Garden to Table programme, preparing more than one million fresh seasonal meals.

Feedback from participating schools’ Principals:

100 per cent of surveyed Principals said that Garden to Table contributes to improved education outcomes and improved environmental awareness and action.

98 per cent of surveyed Principals said Garden to Table contributes to better health outcomes and gives students an opportunity to try new fruit and vegetables.


Rabobank New Zealand is a part of the global Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 120 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 40 countries, servicing the needs of about 10 million clients worldwide through a network of close to 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank New Zealand is one of the country's leading agricultural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the New Zealand food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 32 offices throughout New Zealand.

Media contacts:

David Johnston
Media Relations Manager
Rabobank New Zealand
Phone: 04 819 2711 or 027 477 8153

Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations 
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 
Phone: +612 8115 2744 or +61 2 439 603 525