Fresh food sprouts as Kerikeri plot thickens

By Peter de Graaf

Ten-year-old Maria Beiert helps Edible Kerikeri volunteers turn an unused berm into a vegetable garden.
Ten-year-old Maria Beiert helps Edible Kerikeri volunteers turn an unused berm into a vegetable garden.

A group of guerilla gardeners has been stealthily turning street berms into vegetable plots in a bid to make fresh food available to anyone who wants it.

Their latest targets, planted on Wednesday evening, were an ornamental garden outside Bunnings in Kerikeri and a strip of council berm on Fairway Drive, which are now sprouting everything from strawberry seedlings to silverbeet. Marigolds add colour and keep away undesired insects while banana, tamarillo and guava trees will provide fruit in future.

Edible Kerikeri member Barbara Belger said the group had already established vege gardens outside the Italians restaurant and the medical centre at Ranui Gardens. Volunteers had turned old pallets into planter boxes and placed them at the Turner Centre.

''We're planting free food everywhere. The idea is to bring people together and make them aware we can look after each other, as well as showing how easy it is to provide healthy food.''

Theft was not an issue because the whole idea was for people to help themselves. Nor had vandalism been a problem, Ms Belger said. Instead people had been adding new plants and, in the case of a vege plot outside the police station, watering it daily.

''It's humanity from its best side,'' Ms Belger said.

While Bunnings was in on Wednesday's action - the store provided compost, seedlings, companion plants, tools and staff time - no permission was sought to take over the council berm. Topsoil was donated from a house site and a nearby pizza outlet made sure the gardeners didn't go hungry.

Bunnings Kerikeri store supervisor Hayley Mason said the edible garden was a ''fantastic opportunity'' to bring people together and learn about planting.

''It's a bit of a dying art. Not all youngsters learn about growing vegetables,'' she said.

The latest vege plot is directly opposite Kerikeri's Winz office. It is hoped it will inspire some of the town's unemployed to get involved or start gardens of their own.

Edible Kerikeri can be contacted via their Facebook page.

- Northern Advocate

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