Input sought for community garden

VACANT LAND: Organisers of a community hui on establishing a community garden on land behind the Ashburton Salvation Army family store include Connecting Mid Canterbury coordinator Kate White (left) and Lieutenant Semi Ratu from the Ashburton Salvation Army.
- Advertisement -

Plans are afoot to turn an empty section owned by the Ashburton Salvation Army, located behind its family store, into a community garden.

The Ashburton Salvation Army, Connecting Mid Canterbury and Health New Zealand are inviting people to a hui on Thursday next week, 5.30pm to 6.30pm, at Ashburton’s library Te Kete Tuhinga to learn more about the project.

Stephanie Poole of Health New Zealand will be the key speaker. She said the garden would need support to make it a thriving space for not only growing nutritious kai, but also for connecting with others, sharing knowledge and gaining skills.

‘‘Gardening has a clear relationship between stress and anxiety reduction, with evident improvements in mood, self esteem, and satisfaction. Beneficial health effects related to gardening can be observed with less than 30 minutes of daily physical activity,’’ Poole said.

‘‘Research shows how physical activity, healthy body weights and food security are affected by participation in community gardens and how they, combined with the social benefits of community cohesion, urban beautification and ownership and pride, contribute to overall wellbeing,’’ she said.

Ashburton Salvation Army officer Lieutenant Semi Ratu said the garden would also help the organisation.

‘‘We don’t receive much fresh fruit and vegetables in the foodbank, so to have a garden growing here we can use the surplus to go in the food parcels we give out,’’ Ratu said.

‘‘We want the community’s input in shaping what the garden will look like,’’ Ratu said.

Connecting Mid Canterbury co-ordinator Kate White was also looking forward to hearing ideas at the hui.

‘‘One of our Timebank members came to me with the idea of a community garden to help people be more resilient in everyday living but also after an emergency,’’ White said.

‘‘The garden would enable people to learn how to grow vegetables, how to compost, what to grow at what time of the year, and how to grow vegetables not just here but also in their own gardens,’’ she said.

Exactly how the garden will run is something the organisers hope will come out of the hui.

‘‘We have had groups such as those who mental health issues, disabilities, former refugees already express an interest in the project.

‘‘The group that comes out of the hui to lead the project can take feedback on how this could run, for example raised gardens, particular types of veges to grow. Places like ComCare, The Chris Ruth Centre and Step Ahead have already expressed an interest in bring their clients to the community garden,’’ White said.

* The Ashburton Salvation Army, Connecting Mid Canterbury and Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora hui to discuss establishing a community garden, April 4 at 5.30pm to 6.30pm at the Ashburton library, Te Kete Tuhinga, Baring Square East.