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Community gardens provide skills, food and savings in south Auckland

Trust plots a plan for its plots

Published: 2 September 2020

How do you grow your own vegetables on a tiny section?

You join one of the seven community gardens that make up Auckland Teaching Gardens network in the south.

The organisation has gardens in three local board areas, Ōtara- Papatoetoe, Māngere-Ōtāhuhu and Manurewa, that help the community by providing access to cheap and nutritious home-grown produce.

Auckland Council Community Parks team leader Paul Duffy says it’s a great way to get into gardening and all the benefits it offers health-wise, from fresh produce, fitness and social interaction, to cutting food bills and sustaining the environment.

As well as growing vegetables, the gardens have mentors on hand to help pass skills on, so people can continue around their own homes.

“Anyone can learn the skills and techniques they need to be self-sufficient.,” Duffy says.

“There’s enormous satisfaction in planting your own seeds and watching them grow, then cultivating them through, and eventually being able to harvest your own crop.

“And I’m still to meet anyone who doesn’t think the fresh produce you grow yourself doesn’t taste better than what you buy.”

Auckland Teaching Gardens, a charitable trust supported by Auckland Council and some of its 21 local boards, keeps its gardens open to all, from individuals to community groups, and works with schools to deliver education programmes, and government departments and other organisations.

There’s also a new website here with links to all the gardens, events taking place at the sites, recipes, and a link to follow to get a plot, which costs $30.

In the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board area, the Old School Teaching Garden in Kirkbride Road are something of a poster child for the movement, with a long and successful history and modular gardens on offer, while the Toia site at Mason Ave in Ōtāhuhu is unusual in that it was designed and built as a display garden and community resource, and features mostly herbs and fruit.

Ōtara- Papatoetoe Local Board area has four gardens, at Middlemore Park in Swaffield Road, on a former bowling green at Papatoetoe’s Stadium Reserve in Tavern Lane, and Charntay Park and East Tamaki Reserve, both in Ōtara.

Manurewa’s Maich Park garden, upgraded recently to improve plot-holder comfort and production, has more than 50 plots split across two main gardens.

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