Gar­den­ing on the wild side

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - CATRIN OWEN

A Water­view teenager grow­ing a com­mu­nity gar­den on his berm wants clar­ity on whether he is break­ing the law or not.

Reuben Somer­ford has been plant­ing his berm for the past year with the goal of mak­ing it an as­set for the whole neigh­bour­hood.

The 16-year-old has planted a laven­der bush and tamar­illo, fig, pas­sion­fruit, le­mon and guava trees.

‘‘It started last year and I used to plant veg­eta­bles and it did quite well, but I’ve de­cided to just do per­ma­nent trees.’’

The is­sue of Auck­land’s berm main­te­nance hit head­lines three years ago when the coun­cil an­nounced it would stop mow­ing res­i­dents’ road­side grass verges.

Auck­land Trans­port (AT) banned plant­ing of fruit trees and veg­eta­bles as it can at­tract ver­min. But this hasn’t stopped many Auck­land res­i­dents, in­clud­ing Reuben.

‘‘I don’t think pests are go­ing to be a prob­lem be­cause peo­ple have fruit trees in their back­yards and they don’t have rats crawl­ing up them.

‘‘If it’s out­side your house and we’re re­quired to mow it now, then I don’t see why we’re not al­lowed to plant it.’’

Reuben says reg­u­la­tions clar­i­fy­ing what can and can’t be done with berms would be good.

AT pro­posed in Oc­to­ber 2015 road­side gar­dens were to be out­lawed and res­i­dents would need to ap­ply for a $150 li­cence if they wanted to de­vi­ate from new rules it was in­tro­duc­ing that ef­fec­tively put an end to plant­ing on berms. AT says it still con­tin­ues to mow some berms but it would ex­plain why.

Lo­cal boards wrote to AT ex­press­ing con­cerns over the reg­u­la­tions.

Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board chair­per­son Pippa Coom is sup­port­ive of berm plant­ing and is call­ing for some clar­i­fi­ca­tion by AT.

‘‘AT are in­con­sis­tent, they say they’re not mow­ing berms, but they still are,’’ she says.

Coom says it’s only a small per­cent­age of res­i­dents who want to plant their berms. ‘‘If peo­ple want to do some beau­ti­fi­ca­tion in their neigh­bour­hood then we should be en­cour­ag­ing it.’’

How­ever, AT says there are a num­ber of risks with berm plant­ing.

A spokesper­son for AT says it will prob­a­bly be 2017 be­fore the reg­u­la­tions are re­leased.

CATRIN OWEN/ FAIR­FAX NZ

Reuben Somer­ford has been plant­ing the berm out­side his house in Water­view for over a year.

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