Gar­den­ing for the good life

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JOE DAW­SON

The good life has come to an Auck­land re­tire­ment vil­lage.

A new com­mu­nity garden tended by res­i­dents at the Lis­ton Re­tire­ment Vil­lage in Hills­bor­ough has trans­formed not only the earth it is dug on but also the lives of those in­volved.

Vil­lage res­i­dent Wendy Claire got the wheels mov­ing on turn­ing what was a waste­land pop­u­lated by waist-high weeds last year.

In ‘‘an­other life’’ Mrs Claire helped es­tab­lish com­mu­nity gar­dens in West Auck­land and felt her green fin­gers twitch­ing again last year.

‘‘We had our first meet­ing around Au­gust when we started float­ing the idea, we needed peo­ple to be in­ter­ested in main­tain­ing the garden,’’ she says.

Af­ter de­ter­min­ing there was enough in­ter­est to go ahead with the project Mrs Claire got the anti-di­a­betes and obe­sity or­gan­i­sa­tion Gar­dens for Health on board to help with de­sign­ing and build­ing the plot.

Gar­dens for Health will con­tinue to sup­port the garden in coming years.

‘‘What we wanted to do was cul­ti­vate a sup­ply of fresh, or­ganic pro­duce cheaply.

‘‘The other thing is that it’s a fan­tas­tic way of help­ing peo- ple con­nect with each other and their food, and be self suf­fi­cient.

‘‘We’ve got the good life, we’ve got ev­ery­thing to make the heart sing.’’

The garden is de­signed to al­low most vil­lage res­i­dents to get in­volved.

‘‘We have raised beds that are hip-high so peo­ple who can’t bend down can still par- tic­i­pate. Peo­ple are be­ing much more ac­tive, we have peo­ple on walk­ers coming up.

‘‘Peo­ple just come up and sit be­cause it’s just so peace­ful and lovely. The garden is not just for dig­ging, but sup­port­ing, ad­mir­ing and buy­ing pro­duce from.

‘‘Noth­ing is manda­tory, you don’t have to do any­thing.’’

The garden is on pre­vi­ously aban­doned land be­tween the vil­lage and its neigh­bours Monte Ce­cilia Catholic School and a garden plot has been set aside for school pupils.

Richard Main of Gar­dens for Health says he would like to see more gar­dens in re­tire­ment vil­lages.

‘‘It’s a so­cial en­ter­prise, like grow­ing a com­mu­nity from the ground up by grow­ing food.’’

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