Community that sows together grows together

By Michele Hunter, Carly Udy - with NZ Herald

A Tauranga community garden with 58 plots has sprouted up and is quickly running out of space, thanks to a surge in the popularity of vegetable growing.
A digi-poll in the New Zealand Herald showed almost 60 per cent of New Zealanders say they have taken up vegetable gardening in the past 12 months.
Trish Pope, of Bureta, is one of them. Mrs Pope had no experience growing vegetables when she and her family moved to New Zealand from Zimbabwe in January but now tends to her plot three to four times a week.
After hearing about Tauranga's community garden in Otumoetai, she saw her chance to nab a raised bed for $20 a month as a great opportunity.
"We're in an apartment with no land ... my dad was a farmer but I hadn't grown anything ... growing your own veges is very rewarding and the [community garden] is a fantastic concept," she said.
Tauranga's community garden was formally opened in November and almost all the spaces have been taken.
The community garden is on the Otumoetai Railway Reserve, near the Matua roundabout on Ngatai Rd, and is leased from Tauranga City Council by community group Let's Get Growing.
Mrs Pope has silverbeet, tomatoes, chillis, capsicum, cauliflower, rocket, lettuce and broccoli in her plot, as well as marigolds to keep away the bugs.
It's more than enough to feed herself, husband Allan and their only child still at home, 18-year-old Matthew.
The garden is also used by more experienced gardeners who help with advice.
"There's always someone to have a chat with or some nice grandpa to help you," Mrs Pope said.

In the Herald poll, 57.6 per cent of people said they had started vegetable gardening as produce prices rose 12 per cent in the year to November.
Anne Gourley, the facilitator of Tauranga's community garden, said the speed in which the project had sprouted amazed her.
"I think it's something tangible for people to get involved with and there's some inherent good qualities about gardening," Mrs Gourley said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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