Homelessness, joblessness and the cost of living have resulted in community gardens being ‘‘ on trend’’.
However, many’s the garden that started in a flush of enthusiasm, only to peter out as the realities of maintaining and sustaining a long-term successful operation take toll.
The city’s latest community garden in Roy St has possibly found a way of overcoming any problems with personnel and planning by using the site as a classroom.
Since February on this donated suburban site, Land Based Training and the Green Hub have been running a free 17-week full-time accredited level2 National Certificate in Horticulture.
The first 20 have just graduated, with tutor Paul Smith instructing them in the likes of plot management, soils, fertilisers and plant propagation.
‘‘They start from soil and seed, and do everything. It’s a real hands-on practical course,’’ Paul explains, ‘‘and it’s given them a basic knowledge of plant processes.’’
The course attracted an eclectic bunch of students.
‘‘It’s as diverse a selection of people as you’ll find anywhere. They range in age from 16 to 76 and all come from vastly different backgrounds and from five different cultures.’’
Among them are former prisoners, an engineer and a biologist; and having lasted the distance on a plot that has a clay pan, as well as all the typical problem pest plants – oxalis, buttercup, convolvulus, and onion weed – can’t speak highly enough of their experience.
‘‘I like gardening,’’ responds John Wright, ‘‘and I wanted to take it to the next level – and I’ve learned heaps about different cultures.’’
That’s a common theme – in learning about gardening, they’ve learned about other people and their ways.
John would like to come back and take the level-3 course when it is offered next year.
‘‘The knowledge I’ve gained from Paul is priceless. I’ve done more right on this course than I’ve done in my whole life.’’
And then there are the thriving rows of organically grown vegetables that together this eccentric group has produced.
The next free level-2 course begins next Monday, July 11.
The Green Hub’s Yvonne Marsh says student allowances apply, but as it’s on from 9am – 3pm during the week, the course is a real commitment. Anyone wishing to apply should give Yvonne a call on 06 560 2150 or email email@example.com.
Horticultural instructor Paul Smith with some of his graduating class at the Roy St community garden.