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