Garden at heart of com­mu­nity

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

They are a fam­ily of vol­un­teers who work tire­lessly to en­sure peo­ple get good chem­i­cal-free veg­eta­bles for a rea­son­able price.

The Toko­roa Com­mu­nity Gar­dens in Brae­side Ave is a mag­i­cal place where peo­ple can walk through the garden and pick out the veg­eta­bles they want.

The fam­ily at­mos­phere among the hand­ful of vol­un­teers is en­dear­ing, they have a pas­sion for gar­den­ing and to­gether have more than 200 years of gar­den­ing knowl­edge.

Mau­reen Well­man chairs the trust that runs the garden and, with garden man­ager Bob Pud­ney, they have devel­oped the garden into what it is to­day.

‘‘It’s for the ben­e­fit of the com­mu­nity,’’ Mr Pud­ney said.

‘‘ We grow veg­eta­bles in a chem­i­cal-free en­vi­ron­ment that fol­lows the or­ganic philoso­phies.’’

They sell fresh veg­eta­bles to the com­mu­nity ev­ery week­day be­tween 9am and noon and also have a stall at the Satur­day mar­kets.

The group also do­nate veg­eta­bles weekly to the Toko­roa Food Bank.

All the money they make goes to­wards the up­keep of the garden and the rest is do­nated to char­ity.

The group is on the look­out for more vol­un­teers, who are given free veg­eta­bles for a days’ work.

‘‘We are al­ways on the look­out for more vol­un­teers, they just need to show up on a week­day be­tween 9 and 12 and we will go from there. We have equip­ment they can use too.’’

The gar­dens grow more than 50 va­ri­eties of veg­eta­bles.

They have also been a tar­get of thieves. Mr Pud­ney said a patch of pota­toes they planted was up­rooted.

‘‘It’s ter­ri­ble, this is for our com­mu­nity and if they had just come in to see us, we would have given them some veg­eta­bles. The pota­toes weren’t ready so it was really a waste.’’

From kale to beans, flow­ers to pota­toes, the Toko­roa Com­mu­nity Garden vol­un­teers work tire­lessly be­cause they are passionate about gar­den­ing.

The reg­u­larly give groups tours of the gar­dens and en­cour­age kin­der­gartens and schools to start gar­dens of their own.

‘‘Chil­dren do not re­alise where the food in su­per­mar­kets come from. When they see that the food they eat is grown they get ex­cited. It’s a use­ful skill to have,’’ Mrs Well­man said.

KNOWL­EDGE SHARED: Toko­roa Com­mu­nity Garden vol­un­teer Robyn Wolfe­shares gar­den­ing knowl­edge with the younger gen­er­a­tion.

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