Anyone got spare time to garden?
Nestled away in the little corner of Tokoroa is the community garden and all of its delicacies but a lot of hard work goes into it. Caitlin Wallace reports.
An array of vegetables has found roots in the outskirts of Tokoroa and some varieties are more unique than others.
Nestled at the edge of town, the Tokoroa Community Gardens is bursting with life.
Among the well known fresh green produce, you will find foreign vegetables that have yet to break out into popularity.
But the volunteers who work day in and day out say they are winners.
Buried deep within the organic soil are endives, kohlrabis and mizunas.
Not the usual supermarket suspects but delicious all the same, according to volunteer Mary Stevenson.
And do not be fooled by their appearance.
The likes of a Peruvian yacon may be mistaken for a potato but that is not the case.
‘‘It’s like a nashi pear, it’s very juicy to eat,’’ she said.
Though they have not became a common sight on the dinner table Stevenson said the community is learning to love them.
But to make these vegetables flourish is a group of volunteers.
Some come and go but for eight of them it has become their livelihood.
What the volunteers have created is a sanctuary described as a ‘‘hidden treasure’’.
And it has served the community in more ways than one.
As well as a home for unique vegetables it also doubles as a classroom.
Many kindergarten children have set eyes on the gardening process, for some it has been the first.
‘‘It’s really great, especially with young children who think that peas come out of the freezer,’’ Stevenson said.
Even the avid gardener had a thing or two to learn.
‘‘We garden here and then we go home to garden. I’m learning the varying soil types, I didn’t really understand the importance of it before.’’
One of the longest volunteers Bob Pudney said he was one of the dedicated ‘‘oldies’’.
They are the ones who spend six mornings a week getting hands on.
‘‘I came here about four years ago, the place wasn’t going very well at all because the lack of help,’’ he said.
Pudney said the gardens were brought back to life due improvements on the existing structures and added extras.
Even the gardening process has been improved using horse manure in the soil and a chemical free policy.
Though there was a constant flow on Corrections and Work and Income workers, Pudney said there was always a need for volunteers.
All ready: Tokoroa Community Gardens volunteer Robyn Wolfe washes freshly picked yacons before adding them to the shop’s stock.
Fresh menu: The menu at the Tokoroa Community Gardens always has room for more vegetables.
Own crop: Bob Pudney’s garlic is flourishing down at the Tokoroa Community Gardens.