Jolly vegetable characters with beaming smiles are taking shape in an Ohakune garage under the skilful hands of West Auckland sculptor Mike Walsh.
As well the main vegetable, the illustrious Ohakune carrot, there is a Brussels sprout, a swede, a potato and a parsnip.
The five vegetables represent the healthy five-a-day message.
Walsh, who has worked for years on promotional projects including parade floats and theatrical sets, said being in Ohakune carving "muppety vegetable characters" is probably the most enjoyable job he's had in a long time.
His garage workshop in the middle of town attracts passers-by daily.
"It's a fun job, and stress free. I love it when the school kids walk by, look in, and go 'Whoooa'. I tell them to come on in and ask me anything they want.
"Most of them talk for ages.''
The group of personable veges will be set up near the large carrot that stands at the southern entrance to the town. Other features will be placed in Rochfort Park.
"So now there will be all of the veges grown in Ohakune on display in the park, like a very special welcoming committee.''
Businessman Dave Scott, a member of Ohakune Community 2000 that worked with Ohakune Growers and the Ruapehu District Council to bring Walsh from Auckland said the project was "marvellous".
"What he's creating is exactly what we envisaged for the park."
The park will also feature a heritage path of more than 300 pavers featuring the names of vegetable growers throughout the district, a fitness loop track around the Mangatiti Alpine stream from the i-Site in town to the park and back and a water fountain with a water bowl at the base for dogs and free supply of doggy do bags for their owners.
Scott said a carrot car made of wood was also being constructed, which will appeal to most kids.
"And so far more than 100 rhododendron trees have been planted along the river walk. When they bloom it will be spectacular.''
To date $200,000 of community sponsorship had backed the project, he said.
The completed project will be unveiled on October 1 which will be a "wonderful festive day" for the town, he said.
"I know our park is going to be a very popular stopover for everyone.
"It's been a few years in the planning but it's going to pay off and people will love it."
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