A small garden that started as the brainchild of a busy mother has come a long way in uniting the community, and looks to be growing even bigger.
The Plunket Community Garden was launched in March 2018 by community champion Cathy Jordan, Healthy Families Invercargill and Plunket, and supported by WellSouth, Jennian Homes, Elles Road New World, Diacks, Speedy Signs, and Anneke and James from Ray White.
The aim of the garden was originally to create a relaxed space for people to gather, learn new things, and connect with each other, and to provide a fun and welcoming environment for parents and children to get involved in the community.
Since the launch of the garden, a group has been meeting weekly to connect, tend to the garden, and do activities, such as cooking with produce grown in the garden, or crafts.
There are now also plans to extend the gatherings to include a Saturday session, to cater to families who may not be able to attend during the week.
“It’s been such a great way for families to connect and to learn about the food system in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. The garden is led by a group of volunteers who are passionate about wellbeing, growing food and nature play. We are looking for more volunteers to share their knowledge with the group and are trying to create more awareness of the space for more people to enjoy.” Cathy said.
“The garden has received a huge amount of community support from local businesses and we are now registered as a Ministry of Education group. The Environment Southland community award sponsored by NZAS also created a lot of awareness of the group which is exciting and we hope that it will encourage others to establish groups like this in their local community.”
Plunket Southland’s Judy Cook said the garden was a great way to engage families.
”We love having the Invercargill Plunket Community Garden Group here at our Kelvin Street Plunket rooms. It is awesome to see the way the families are engaging in the weekly activities, whether it’s planting. garden maintenance (the kids LOVE watering the plants), cooking and tasting the produce, building bird houses and a water wall or simply playing in the safe playspace! The addition of an occasional Saturday session is a great opportunity for those working during the week to enjoy some relaxing, fun family time. We would be keen to hear from those that are interested but find the current weekly afternoon time a challenge to get to. “
Healthy Families Invercargill manager Jared Cappie said the Plunket Community Garden was a fantastic example of how simple actions could have big impacts.
“This garden has not only opened up a world of new experiences to a community, but it has also shown families how simple and easy it can be to play and enjoy time together.”
Feedback from parents about the garden shows the impact it has had.
Parent James McRobie said his family loved the Plunket Community Garden.
“I think it’s fantastic. Our kids absolutely love coming here and connecting with growing their own food and teaching them how it’s all done.”
Volunteer and parent Rachael Devlin said being able to bring home produce was a highlight.
“We love having the Plunket garden, the kids get to come and plant some plants and water the garden and take care of it themselves, and take produce home, so that’s the favourite part for me.”
Other parents said the garden had encouraged their children to try out new foods, such as radishes and kale, and others were even asking their parents if they could take kale chips to the movies.
Article added: Thursday 15 August 2019