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.

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

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.

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