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Community Garden Group ready for first working bee

August 25th
By David Armstrong

The budding Motueka Community Garden Group met again on Monday 23rd September and settled on a course of action to get the garden construction project off to a start as soon as possible, in order to ensure momentum is built among a wider group of the community. (Background information about the project here)

Subject to soil testing for possible contaminants, the Old Wharf Road site has been chosen and the first working bee will be held on Sunday September 5th at 1.00pm. The first tasks will be to peg out, mow and rake the first three plots and begin a compost heap, plus hopefully to decide on how the beds will be cleared of couch grass. Some work may also be done on an ornamental bed close to the road, perhaps to be planted in lavenders.

TDC have offered to test the soil for free and this will be taken up, but Tara Forde said their tests do not cover the particular soil contaminants that possibly exist, given the site's earlier use as a sawmill dump. The specialist firm, Hills in Hamilton, will be asked to perform whatever tests TDC cannot do, at a market cost.

The meeting spent some time discussing how the couch weeds should be cleared, with options including Roundup, rotary hoeing (problematic given the gravelly nature of the topsoil), hand digging and clearing, or an LPG flamethrower. This issue has yet to be decided on - most would prefer to avoid the use of any chemicals, but on the other hand the job needs to be done quickly so that garden construction can begin before the spring season is too far advanced and people lose interest.

The promised garden plan did not arrive at the meeting, but it was agreed that this didn't matter too much as a comprehensive design and layout was a longer term project than just getting the first beds started. The group did discuss ideas on garden construction, including size of beds (probably three initially at 1.5m x 10m each) and raised height (45cm or higher). Donations of topsoil would be sought from some of Motueka's contractors.

A standard letter requesting donations of all sorts of materials, from compost, kitchen scraps and buckets to hold them, tools and building materials, will be drawn up and posted on this website and used for approaching businesses and other interested groups.

Eventually the obtaining of grants from various agencies will drive the finances for the gardens (after the initial $5000 grant has been used), and in order to apply for funds the group would need to establish itself as a legal entity. With the guidance of one group member who recently has done similar work for another group, it was decided that registering as an incorporated society would be the most appropriate option, and he will research the information needed to do this for the garden group, which is now officially to be named the "Motueka Community Garden Group".

The main task in setting out on this path, he said, was to obtain clear consensus on the aims and objectives of the group, its constitution, and how it will be governed and administered. In the meantime, it is vital that actual work - which can be physically seen on site - get underway so that momentum can be built and buy-in obtained from the wider community.

Meeting chairwoman Tara Forde would like to hear from anyone who would like to be included in her email list for the project, so they can hear more about what is going on and perhaps become involved. Email her at

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