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Urban gardeners get together to work together

Aug 13th, 2011 | By | Category: Latest News, News

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Christina Bellis and Sarah Adams head up an urban food hui for city gardeners.

A WELLINGTON urban food programme aims to link up community gardens and form a resilient network of food growers and neighbours throughout the city.

The Sustainability Trust and Innermost Gardens has hosted an urban food hui to discuss how they can get more people involved in community gardening through better co-ordination and centralised resources.

About 50 people attended the hui at Wellington Central Library to explore ideas for creating linkages between the trust and the various gardens around Wellington.

Innermost Gardens project manager Sarah Adams

“Each garden is kind of standing alone at the moment,” says Christina Bellis, community projects manager at the Sustainability Trust.

“If we had some more co-ordination that could pull them together, then you’re not doubling up on resources.”

Currently, there are community gardens established in Newtown, Mt Victoria, Aro Valley, Porirua, Island Bay, Owhiro Bay and Brooklyn.

The Trust and Innermost Gardens hope to set up a more strategic approach for the gardens, with better networking and sharing programmes for seeds, tools and equipment.

They encourage community leaders to set up produce swaps, neighbourhood collectives and mentoring programmes for new gardeners.

Innermost Gardens project manager Sarah Adams says the gardens need better support and coordination to keep people enthusiastic.

“I think what happens is a lot of people do come in with a lot of energy, and it kind of dissipates because lots of the gardens are kind of held at a certain capacity.”

Ms Bellis and Ms Adams say the urban food programme will improve food security in Wellington through sustainable production and greater awareness of local food sources.

It will also strengthen community ties and leave Wellington more resilient in the event of an emergency.

Ms Adams uses Christchurch community group Project Lyttleton as an example: “When the earthquake happened there, the civil defence’s first network that they went through was Project Lyttleton because they already had those networks in place.”

She says a city like Wellington has a lot of potential for a similar project.

“Because it is a reasonably small city, there is already community reasonably inherent in it. I think that people are really supportive of one another and the enthusiasm for this initiative is really great.”

Ms Bellis says that Wellingtonians take a lot of pride in their neighbourhoods, another plus for urban gardening: “In that way, if you’ve got a community garden set up in that area, people will tend to actually take part in it because that’s their community.”

The Sustainability Trust and Innermost Gardens will hold another meeting at the end of November to plan activities for the summer harvest period.

They are in the early stages of working with the Wellington City Council to set up additional funding and support, such as a full- or part-time co-ordinator who would manage networking between the gardens.

Ms Adams says they are encouraged by the enthusiasm and new ideas that came out of the hui.

“The event was about bringing people together and allowing people to share their passion, and hopefully get inspired about what’s possible.”

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