On appearance, there's nothing particularly special about the lettuce sprouting up from a garden box at Otakaro Orchard in Christchurch.

Sure, it's well-formed and bug-free, but, with only a week or two before being harvest-ready, the frilly vegetable is still on the smaller side.

The only reason it's been listed on Trade Me for four times what you'd pay for it at the supermarket happens to be that it was the first lettuce Prime Minister John Key planted.

Two months after Mr Key planted it during a photo opportunity at the opening of the $1.7 million community garden project in the North Frame of Christchurch's central city, the celebrity lettuce is being auctioned off with a current bid of $10.50.


Touts the listing: "He may never plant one again. Don't miss out on this opportunity to eat fresh produce from the Prime Minister's own hands."

Chloe Waretini, of business network Enspiral, came up with the idea while thinking about ways to lift the project's profile.

"Then my eyes fell on the Prime Minister's lettuce and I was like, 'oh, I wonder if I can auction that off'?"

Mr Key's office happily gave its blessing.

"They thought it was pretty hilarious and said yes ... just as long as it was a good-looking lettuce."

She wasn't sure whether the Prime Minister would place a bid but reckoned his wife, Bronagh, might be more interested.

"Apparently she's an avid gardener but has never let him near the garden before, so she might be interested to taste the spoils of the endeavour."

Ms Waretini said the auction, which closes on Thursday, had attracted some interest, including one comment from someone who couldn't resist having a dig at the PM.

Yachal-7 asked: "Can you please confirm whether this is organically grown? I understand there may still be traces of TPPA from the Prime Minister's hands. If so, this humble lettuce could well be unpalatable."

The seller, rather diplomatically, responded: "Yes the lettuce is organic. You'll see in the pictures that we were careful to have the PM use certified gardening gloves to avoid any potential contamination. Thanks for your question!"

Proceeds from the sale will go toward the Otakaro Orchard's Givealittle campaign.