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Community garden trustees plan next steps after bumper harvest

April 8th, 2011
[by David Armstrong]

The Motueka Community Gardens trust has concluded most of its huge summer harvest and is now preparing plans for the future development of this community initiative, to be ready for an even better year when the 2011/12 season begins around September.

The garden plots, on Old Wharf Road opposite the Recreation Centre, have attracted widespread praise from residents passing by and visiting community leaders. Excellent summer weather and the dedicated work of up to a dozen volunteers at Sunday working bees produced an ongoing bumper crop of vegetables, which have been subsequently eaten by the volunteers, with the surplus largely going to people in need including the food banks, Vanuatuan workers and the earthquake refugees at the marae.

The project to establish the community gardens began late last winter (follow our coverage here). Many observers were surprised by their rapid construction and resulting produce and the lack of vandalism and theft, and now that the bulk of the harvest is over and winter garden maintenance has begun, the trustees are planning how to consolidate project activities and get greater involvement from the wider community.

Gradually new people are beginning to attend working bees (held over winter every Sunday from 1-3pm), enough to match the maintenance tasks such as weeding, pulling out finished crops, building compost heaps and sheds, and turning over new beds. Trustees are preparing project lists for strategy development.

The first of the list of new projects is a roadside sign and information board explaining to passers by what the gardens are, the goals and plans, and how other people may become involved. Until now information about the garden has been passed on by word of mouth, with many thinking it's a Council or school project.

Other plans for next season - to be decided - may include how and where to offer rented allotments to people who want manage and harvest their own plots (all current plots are communally run), policies on the distribution of surplus produce, possible sale of produce, involvement of other community groups and schools, further beautification of the land around the gardens, how to obtain more funding, and further infrastructure such as a propagation area.

Trustees hope to establish plans for these developments over the next few months.

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