Te Puke's community garden has been growing produce right through alert levels 4 and 3.

Social distancing has meant the vast majority of the work has fallen to chairwoman Julie Gray.

''We're actually doing really well,'' she says. ''I've been looking after the gardens and I have been regularly taking produce down to the foodbank.''

She has also been putting produce out for people to help themselves. And she hasn't been the only one.


''I took down a whole lot of Chinese cabbages, feijoas and guavas and lots of people have been bringing excess fruit and putting it on our table as well.''

With signs on which crops people can take, Julie says there hasn't been any stealing of produce.

''There are labels where people can pick some things, but everything's been looked after.''

The produce available at the garden in Jocelyn St is coming to an end for the moment, but this week there will be a harvest of kūmara grown off-site.

''That will drip feed into the community and then some of the other produce will start to come on.''

Julie says that the change to alert level 2 will, she hopes, mean volunteers can return to help plant out the gardens for the new season.

''We've started to get behind now, but I managed to just plant another couple of beds last week.''

For those who have been given a taste of growing their own vegetable during lockdown,
Julie says now is the time to plant brassicas - cabbage, cauliflowers and Brussels sprouts ''because the white butterflies are disappearing now''.


The community garden has some seedlings for sale and can be contacted through its Facebook page.