Kai, it's vital for us all and if we can grow some of our own, then it's good for our pockets too.

With the first 20-week horticultural course beginning at Te Awanga Tamaki Nui A Rua in Dannevirke this week, participants will be helping to reduce the food bill for their whanau, says tutor Jackie Lynch of EIT in the Hawke's Bay.

"We teach this course from Hicks Bay to Dannevirke now, at marae and churches," she said. "Gardening is my thing and I love it.

"This is a fabulous course and not only are we planting a community garden here, participants will be creating home gardens as well. It's about having accessible food."


Ms Lynch has been running the course, which has 11 unit standards as part of a Level 1 certificate in horticulture, at Maeranui in Napier for two years.

This week, the Dannevirke participants were planting garlic, onions and daffodils.

"This is about being sustainable and people learn plant propagation, weed control, small machine maintenance and so much more," Ms Lynch said.

The idea of a community garden is a wonderful concept, says Charlie Timu, of the Ruahine Maori Wardens.

"There are a lot of people who have no idea how to grow things and teaching people to develop their home gardens is great because there are a lot of needy whanau out there."

Tamai Nicholson, of Te Awanga Tamaki Nui A Rua, said the 20-week course in Dannevirke was a great concept.

"To have my mother, (Nanny Noa Nicholson), here to welcome everyone is special.

"She is a rock for our family."