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DDT does not deter local community food growers

May 20th, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

The previous women's bowling green has been filled with peat and mushrooms to break down the DDT in the soil.

DECADES of DDT is being leeched from the soil of a former Mt Victoria bowling green to create a community garden safe to eat from.

Innermost Gardens members have come up with clever ways of restoring the soil at the old Bandoliers site, in Lawsons Lane, by using planter boxes and innovative thinking.

Since beginning the garden last year, a combination of mushrooms and peat has been used to cleanse the soil of DDT, which was used to control grass grub in the bowling green before it was banned in 1989.

Innermost Gardens was originally started in Newtown by Emet Degirmenci-Alpay, a Turkish immigrant who was looking for a way to connect with other women in her new community.

Realising the need for a similar garden in Mount Victoria, project coordinator Sarah Adams, a bio-dynamics graduate, helped to found the garden at the Bandoliers site.

“It’s a very urban site, which is great because it makes it really accessible. A lot of people in the CBD are living in apartments so the community garden gives them a chance to escape that.”

Wellington City Council in 2009 awarded Innermost gardens a three year lease for the site, although the group has a long-term vision.

“Ideally we would be able to occupy the site for the next 10 to 50 years, helping to create a sustainable city and educating people how to use and look after the land,” Sarah says.

The group has an ethos of “growing community through hands in the soil”.

There are currently 10 to 12 members of the core collective with 30 or more people engaging in working bees.

On the third Sunday of every month where they learning about practices including bee keeping, seed storage and how to grow nutrient rich vegetables. Their work is rewarded with a share of the harvest.

 “Gardening brings people together,” says Sarah.

They have been planting with the seasons, currently growing kamo kamo, eggplant, broccoli, brussel sprouts, garlic, pumpkin, cos lettuce, thyme, parsley, kale, silver beet, lemons, tatsoi, lettuces, bok choy, celery, basil and red clover.

The gardens are fertilised with compost teas, made from oatmeal and sugar wrapped up in muslin cloth, which is then left in a barrel with a fish bubbler to ferment.

On the June 18 and 19 Innermost Garden is is hosting a local food resilience programme, teaching the benefits of permaculture, a system of designing agriculturally productive ecosystems which mirrors the resilience and stability found in natural ecosystems.

Innermost works closely with Wellington Community Supported Agriculture, a 50 strong group who source their weekly produce from a sustainable, organic farm in the Wairarapa.

The produce is distributed from the Innermost site on Friday nights.

The garden has also received supported from local business. The Commonsense organics store on Wakefield Street has helped fund Innermost gardens by offering 5% of their takings on April 30 to the group.

Innermost gardens have recently held its 16th community meeting and has been in operation since January 2010.

Anyone wanting to make contact with the organisation can email them

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