Growing a community

By Zaryd Wilson

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Angus Tasker harvests some of the produce from the Matai St Community Garden at Sunday's working bee. Photo/ Lewis Gardner
Angus Tasker harvests some of the produce from the Matai St Community Garden at Sunday's working bee. Photo/ Lewis Gardner

What was an empty lot on Matai St is now not only feeding the people of Castlecliff, but it's community spirit too.

The Matai St Community Garden has been running since April when Phil Holden asked the Whanganui District Council if it could use a small plot of land.

"They said yes. So since we got the composting pile, we just turned it over and turned it into gardens," Mr Holden said.

From compost now grows an array of vegetables, fruit trees and herbs, all available to the community, free of charge.

"People aren't passing on the skills that we used to know years ago and I just wanted to revive it and bring it back," Mr Holden said.

"People don't understand what's in our food and how it's been grown. There's a lot of health issues. It's all interconnected in a way, our social problems.

"If we can educate our children about food and how to produce it. It actually saves us money and it's a good thing to know."

Monthly working bees have mustered up to 30 people in one day to work on the garden.

One was held on Sunday with people turning up to plant, harvest, weed and maintain the area.

Mr Holden said the garden would also be getting some help from Veolia which had offered to install a water toby, connected to the city water mains, for use on the gardens.

One of the challenges was to change people's way of thinking and teaching that it was okay to take food for free.

"The produce is here to take. It's free for all. Share thoughtfully, leave some for others," Mr Holden said.

"Everything can be shared and if we open up that gift culture everyone can live with abundance and that's the idea in general."

Mr Holden said how the garden developed was really over the community which owned it.

"There's no laws. Things are going to change and that's the whole thing. We've got to adapt to change." he said.

"I just want to live in a good world, you know?"

- Wanganui Chronicle

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