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Community gardeners celebrate second birthday

August 10th, 2012

Two volunteer gardeners at the community gardens' harvest celebration this past autumn

It's not often that an AGM starts with a rendition or "Happy Birthday to Us", but the Motueka Community Gardeners are a happy lot, especially after two years of successful growing despite warnings of failure from some naysayers.

At the annual general meeting held last night at the Community House, two further people offered to join the committee, and the 13 people present heard of plans to consolidate the already amazing facilities and to extend the area southward on the council-owned land opposite the Recreation Centre.

Amid pessimistic comments from many, the gardens began two years ago on land which looked rather unpromising, but the determined efforts of a group of veggy-loving volunteers and some trustees have steadily developed the area into facilities which continue to amaze residents and visitors.

Apart from the seven raised communal beds which supply food principally for the volunteers (with surplus to food banks), there are now 15 allotments used by people wanting to grow their own vegetables, paid for at $1 per square metre per year.

The existing land area is now nearly all used, but the gardens' works committee have been discussion with council to prepare and use more of the area behind the gardens, which has already been mown.

Council will fence off the extra area, and the gardens trustees will decide how it could best be used once it is cleared of gorse and other unwanted bushes. Some could be made available for further allotments.

In her chairwoman's report, re-elected Tara Forde said that next year would be a year mainly of consolidation after two years of rapid growth. The eastern fence will be strengthened to hold a long section of grapevines. An area for socialising, including a barbeque and picnic tables, will be formed behind the allotments, and a children's play area will be provided.

She said some annual events, including the sunflower day and harvest celebration day, will be repeated as they were well attended this year. Increasing interest and participation from some schools also looked promising, she said.

Ongoing funding and income remains an issue, however, and the trustees will be working on strategies to build financial sustainability. A visioning and strategic planning session, open to the interested public, will be held at the gardens on Sunday August 26th at noon.


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