Loyal caretakers help garden grow
Kelmarna Garden is encouraging new volunteers to lend a hand to ensure the cityfringe idyll is sustained for years to come.
The organic garden has lain tucked away in Herne Bay in Auckland for more than three decades growing vegetables, raising chickens and grazing cows.
It is still in search of non-profits and community groups to help share the load, after mental health provider Framework Services decided to withdraw as the garden’s operational partner in February.
Garden manager Adrian Roche says losing Framework has been tough.
But its loyal caretakers see it as a golden opportunity to bring some new faces – and more importantly greenfingers – to the garden, he says. ‘‘It’s a good thing. ‘‘We’ve always been very welcoming to people because we didn’t want to be an isolated mental health programme, we wanted to be part of the community, but we didn’t actively go out and seek people and now we are.
‘‘We have to justify why we’re here because this is a community asset and like any asset the community has to use it.’’
The Kelmarna Community Garden Trust leases the land from Auckland Council and Framework had used the gardens as a therapeutic centre since 1992.
The 0.4-hectare organic garden is surrounded by paddocks stocked by Mt Albert Grammar School’s farm department.
The trust has been awarded a $6000 grant from the Waitemata Local Board to help fund four new projects, including the creation of a neighbourhood outreach programme and an events calendar.
‘‘It’s reassuring and gives us time to get more funding,’’ Roche says.
‘‘The long-term vision is that the community will support it but there’s still a lot of uncertainty.’’
Trust chairwoman Mary Paul says the garden is in need of more substantial, long-term funding to survive.
‘‘People are coming forward but we need more people.
‘‘We need people to be committed, proactive and involved,’’ she says.
‘‘It’s not like an ordinary community garden – it’s more of a taonga, it’s a very special place.’’
Paul says the garden is in need of volunteers to help with a variety of tasks including painting, carpentry, cooking and gardening.
Herne Bay resident Ella Rickit has been volunteering at the garden for the past few months.
‘‘It’s beautiful tranquil.
‘‘I find it really satisfying doing something with my hands and within nature, because my whole life is just devices and screens, so it’s just really nice to totally get away from technology,’’ she says.
‘‘My family rents and you never know how long you’re going to get to stay at a rental so having a plot to learn gardening and grow vegetables sounded really cool – it’s perfect for us.’’
Kelmarna Gardens manager Adrian Roche.
Go to centralleader. co.nz and click on Latest Edition to see a video of the garden.