Berm turned into corn plot

By Ben Irwin

The corn could grow to be nearly 2m tall. Photo / Dean Purcell
The corn could grow to be nearly 2m tall. Photo / Dean Purcell

An Auckland resident has come up with a novel answer to the problem of unmowed berms - planting a corn patch.

Aucklanders were told in October to mow their own berms because the council deemed it too costly for the city. That was enough motivation for Benjamin Barton, 32, to plant the corn patch on the corner of Kiwi Rd and Tui St in Pt Chevalier.

Mr Barton, who has lived in Kiwi Rd for a year, said it was about "looking at how we can use public space better".

"The council has handed the responsibility back to the public, so I think the public can say, 'well, maybe just having grass isn't what we want for this space. Maybe we can do something different with it. Maybe there's another way to use that space that adds more value to the community'," he said.

Mr Barton wants to harvest the corn in February.

"There's a whole lot of different aspects to it, but mainly it's just I wanted to do something that looked interesting and kind of sparked a bit of interest and meant I could talk to the neighbours a bit more," he said.

The corn - which could grow nearly 2m tall - was planted in a neighbour's berm across from Mr Barton's house, just before a stop sign.

Mr Baton got permission from his neighbour, Martha Phoenix, to plant it.

Mrs Phoenix said the response from the community was positive.

"I thought it was a good idea," she said. "He wanted to do something for the community and share."

However, Auckland Transport, which is in charge of berms, said the corn could be removed if it became a hazard.

Spokesman Mark Hannan said corn could pose a danger, especially as Mr Barton's plot was close to a stop sign.

"If it became a traffic issue or a visibility issue, as with any tree, well something would have to be done about it," Mr Hannan said.

"There would have to be proper visibility if the corn grew too high - that certainly could be an issue down the way."

Mr Hannan said there were provisions to charge residents for the cost of removal, but he added that it would not "go on a witchhunt" unless there was a problem. "We've been pretty open-minded about this sort of thing".

However, Mr Barton was confident it would not come to that.

"If it does cause an issue and we do think that it will cause danger - that's the last thing I want to do in the neighbourhood - I'll just rip it out."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 22 Oct 2014 21:59:03 Processing Time: 447ms