Rose Weir, Community Garden Coordinator for the Middlemore Reserve Community Gardens invited me to visit their highly successful Community Garden. They are in the midst of their Autumn planting for cool season harvests. The gardens are part of the Manukau Parks ‘Teaching Gardens’ established at different parks around Manukau to help teach residents basic gardening techniques that can then be taken back to their home gardens.
Each Gardener or Gardening Family is given a 5 x 5 m plot or larger, allocated to participants to grow vegetables for that particular season. Community Garden Coordinators teach participants basic gardening skills from seed germination through to growing and harvesting. There is also a great deal of information and practical learning about cooking and preserving all types of fruits and vegetables.
Participants keep all the produce they grow. Sometimes, they donate extra produce into a collective harvest which is then sold to raise needed funds to buy extra garden supplies that improve and sustain the garden plots.
Access to the Gardening plots is free. The Council provides most of the resources necessary to ensure that the garden projects are successful. This includes a basic salary for the Garden Coordinator or Teaching Instructor; gardening tools; gardening books, diaries and other resource materials; seed and plants plus general fertilisers.
Occasionally Garden Experts are invited to contribute, participate and teach or provide practical advice about gardening practices and offer solutions to botanical problems that every garden ultimately must overcome in order to be successful.
These Community Garden Projects in Manukau have been successfully operational for several years now. Because Manukau is a highly diverse multicultural community of many different creeds, cultures and races, this creates a remarkably colourful and diverse milieu where Gardeners from many different countries and cultures can share their diverse backgrounds and understandings of Nature and plants.
Thus the gardens they produce include an interesting and widely diverse number of different fruits and vegetables which include species from many parts of Asia, India, indigenous Maori gardening and the Pacific Islands, the Middle East as well as traditional European/Western vegetables.
“Knowledge is power” and in this situation participants are learning a great deal about practical cooking and gardening, environmental protection as well as learning to more deeply appreciate diverse cultures and traditions. This truly helps empower them to permanently uplift the health and quality of their lives. Plus many friendships have been made between people who otherwise would be unlikely to ever meet if it were not for their common interest and passion for gardening.
This helps build enduring confidence and involvement in their Community. And a neighborhood who gardens together has been proven to be a much more caring, friendly and safer neighborhood where Community involvement significantly reduces crime and vandalism!
With environmental appreciation and protection being such an important issue in our modern world, it seems very logical that Community Gardening Projects such as this one are an essential step to uplifting the quality of life for many individuals and their Families.
When looking for a common-sense and highly practical and personally rewarding way to contribute to an improved world, consider becoming involved in gardening. Better still, participate or perhaps even start your own Community Garden Project. Or submit an application to your local Council or Municipal Authority to start a local Community Garden Project to improve your neighborhood as well as your own life.
While it may sound idealistic, just imagine the profound change and improvement in our world if all 7 billion inhabitants around the world uplifted their quality of life by making the simple step to learn to successfully plant and sustaining their own garden! Our world would be almost instantly transformed from where it is heading today.
Well done Middlemore Reserve Community Garden and all you other Gardeners around the world. You are the true Heroes of the Planet!