Gardening – Community makes a garden

The Manly community garden was originally set up as a demonstration garden to teach horticultural initiatives.

When the classes were discontinued, it fell into disuse and was soon overtaken by the kikuyu grass that is so prevalent here.

When it was resurrected three years ago, it took a team of PD workers to whip it back into some semblance of order and then, with the help of 20 volunteers, it was planted up.

Unfortunately, a lack of a newsletter to keep people informed led once again to the garden languishing.

Last year, thanks to the Seed Savers group set up by Melissa at the Whangaparāoa Library, another group of keep gardeners was discovered. The Auckland Council community garden policy was checked, a newsletter set into motion and the garden planted with summer vegetables.

Now a small group meet every Saturday morning at 8am to weed, water, plant and harvest a variety of produce. Everyone is learning as well as maintaining the garden and contributing resources, and once again the garden is flourishing.

The garden showcases garden methods, promotes organic gardening and helps to minimise waste. We also experiment with unusual plants not easily grown in home gardens such as turmeric, ginger, asparagus, shallots, artichokes and a range of heritage tomatoes and beans. The gardeners learn that not all crops are successful and that plants take time to grow to be able to produce well. Most of our volunteers have their own home gardens as well, but the community garden allows them to share seeds, plant material, share ideas, and discuss failures.

Establishing a home garden requires knowledge and skills and an ability to grow with the seasons. As the plots are worked collectively in the community garden it gives people the opportunity to acquire the necessary skills.

Perhaps it is the rising cost of food, or maybe because that the garden is on public land, but some non-contributing people feel the need to help themselves. One lady caught in the act of helping herself learned that we weren’t wasting lettuce but letting it go to seed.

The leeks also were not in need of pulling up as we cut them at the base to crop again.

She turned down the offer to join our group, saying she had her own garden at home!
To find out more about the community garden, contact Dee.