‘Truly a community effort’
On a wintry day in July last year, two hardy, green-thumbed Clutha women, Beatrice Pratt and Robyn Bell, braved the cold on an empty plot in James St, and spoke of establishing Balclutha’s first community garden.
Less than 18 months on, their dream has borne if not fruit just yet, definitely vegetables, and a nomination for a national gardening award.
The transformation of a bare quarter-acre section, into the Balclutha Community Garden, has earned the creators one of five finalist spots in the Gardena Gardener of the Year awards run by Fairfax Magazines’ NZ Gardener.
However, Pratt, a retired school teacher, and Bell a cafe owner, were quick to say it was ’’truly a community effort’’ that led to the garden’s local and national recognition.
The garden also won them the health and wellbeing section at the recent Clutha Trustpower Community Awards.
‘‘It’s so much further on than we could ever have thought,’’ Pratt said.
They started with six raised beds, which quickly doubled to 12, and then increased to 18, and they’ll add 12 more plots when possible.
‘‘The public support is overwhelming and the garden needs to expand to meet the demand,’’she said.
Most of what can be seen on the plot, owned by Colin Dempster, has been donated, including tools, timber, tunnel house, soil, gravel and time by Balclutha businesses and service groups.
What Pratt and Bell love most about the garden is the bringing together of different age groups, from pensioners to young children. It’s become a place for people to socialise.
‘‘We’re wanting to encourage future generations to be the next caretakers, and take it over,’’ Pratt said.
It’s also teaching people about growing food and nutrition.
‘‘We had someone turn up who had never eaten silverbeet or cooked vegetables,’’ she said.
People can pick vegies on Saturdays 10am to 12 noon for a gold coin donation.
A working bee will be held on Sunday from 1pm.
People can vote online, or send in a Gardena voting form, until November 1. The winners will be announced in the December issue of NZ Gardener.
Balclutha Community Garden workers: Munroe Bunting, Diane Bennett and Jane Hutton, Alan Teraki, Beatrice Pratt and Robyn Bell.