In June of 2011, Mr. Dale Harvey was approached by Sergeant Andrew Graham, Counties Manukau Police Neighbourhood Policing Team and Policeman Blake James with the request to reinstate the Sutton Park School Project.
The intent was to use this project as a model for developing other community school garden projects in other potentially volatile communities in South Auckland and throughout New Zealand as a vehicle to increase neighbourhood cohesion and reduce crime.
After carefully studying the crime and related statistics over several decades, it was discovered that where the community had a well-organized community and/or school garden project that involved a large segment of the local population, crime, tagging and violence incidents were dramatically reduced.
The logic behind this is quite simple. Garden projects and gardening in general creates abundance, beauty and improves fitness and health. These are all qualities that produce a happier life. It is fun, productive and refreshing. Plus it teaches important life and survival skills like caring, kindness, coordination and planning, reliability and responsibility; team work and unity plus individual, family and community pride of accomplishment to achieve a productive reward.
When a community or school cares enough to create a beautiful, bountiful and productive garden around their school, the maintenance staff, students and their participating families plus the teachers quickly take ‘ownership’ of the project. This is because their gardens become so rewarding that they want to care-for and protect their gardens, school and school grounds against damage from crime, tagging and vandalism.
Whenever the gardens extend into the surrounding community so that parents, staff and students take plants, seedlings and seeds home and start gardens of their own, the over-all impact of the project geometrically increases. Soon there are gardens, often showing from the street, throughout the area.
This beautifies and greatly uplifts the appearance of the neighbourhood which results in community pride and an increasing sense of unity and well-being within the neighbourhood. This usually inspires many more people to become involved in growing flowers and vegetables which mean that they are spending a great deal more healthy quality time outdoors around their homes and actively engaging with their families in productive activity.
Home Gardeners are highly protective of the beautiful and productive garden treasures that they are creating around their homes. As they work in their home gardens, as well as at the school, they begin to meet more of their neighbours who all share a common bond through their appreciation of gardening and nature. This naturally creates a friendly support network that establishes a feeling of shared unity and well-being that results in an inter-connected and stronger community.
A united community is much better fortified to protect what they have and stand up for what is good and righteous. So now whenever there is a suspicious noise outside, or unknown people are seen in the neighbourhood; or they hear-of or witness a crime, immediately there are protective Gardeners at the windows or more likely out in the front yard ready to protect their patch of paradise and help their neighbours.
Crime hates to be seen or heard! So whenever confronted by a unified community, crime and taggers quickly move on rather than chance being confronted by a unified neighborhood.
Adding to this green legion of crime-stoppers are the many school children involved in the local community garden school project. These children soon become proficient green helpers who can be most beneficial in helping their communities as well as their families to actively improve their lives.
Many hands make light work, and the strong young hands of a younger generation prove very valuable in the garden. This gives young people a feeling of accomplishment, sense of purpose and reward for what they have achieved. It gives them a reason for being there and they can quickly see the results of their hard work.
These same children are highly protective of what they are growing at home and at school. Plus they have a keen local knowledge of the activities of their older siblings and what is happening within their generation. Often it is their associates, possibly even friends or someone they know or met who might be the ones committing the crimes, tagging and vandalising the neighborhood.
Because they are all part of the same Community and Family unified in their accomplishments and their community garden pride, they now have the determination, drive, and reason to put considerable pressure from within the Community and especially from within the Family to stop crime and damaging activities within the neighborhood.
By overcoming crime and destruction within their neighbourhoods, this allows the garden-related activities to flourish and grow ever more beautiful and stronger. With the Community and Families in union this further protects their gardens and also promotes a more beautiful, peaceful, productive quality of life within their neighbourhoods.
Soon crime and tagging subsides. At the same time, the caring, devotion and hard-work of the local children and parent Gardeners begins to bear flowers and fruit. With the threat of crime and violence subsiding, and the promise of beauty and productive reward become more apparent around them, additional neighbours become involved in beautifying and greening their communities.
This creates a formidable barrier against crime and violence, which soon begins to uplift the entire area. Taken to its ultimate conclusion, just imagine a world where all 7 billion people on this Planet all planted a garden. Each person would produce and be rewarded and surrounded within a personal patch of paradise.
Most surely this collective caring for our environment would indeed produce a beautiful, bountiful, green and productive Planet. As individual patches of paradise begin to merge into a global paradise this would eventually unify communities through beauty, caring, kindness, productivity, solidarity and union of shared ideals that would produce an increased overall-quality of life for one and all around the world. We would truly become a world in union.
That is the ‘dream’ for our future world. The reality is a much slower awakening process. Just like a seed sprouting, everything must start from a small beginning before it can blossom and fruit. With care, focused effort, patience and understanding the rewards from Nature are guaranteed.
So it is with this new garden project. Finally after many months of regular meetings and careful planning, the Pacific Steel Sutton Park School Project has begun.
This time, through the insight of Police Sergeant Andrew Graham and the support of Housing New Zealand, the New Zealand Police Team, and the dedicated patronage of Pacific Steel, Bay Engineering, Pacific Growers, Professional Gardeners and Zealandia Nurseries the garden project is beginning to take shape.
Day 1 - Digging Day
Day 2 - Planting Day
(click on images above to view slideshow)
With the unified help of parents, staff, students and teachers of Sutton Park School, Pacific Steel and Quarter Acre Paradise gardens, large areas all around the school were cleared, dug and weeded starting with a ‘Digging Day’ 28 October 2011.
Over the following two weeks additional land was cleared, fertilised, limed and repeatedly weeded in preparation for Project Planting Day 11/11/11.
Project Planting Day 11/11/11 was perfect for gardening and very well attended.
Bay Engineering donated to the School a wonderful array of their finest garden tools including buckets, garden forks and gloves; many shovels, trowels, watering cans and wheelbarrows.
Pacific Steel offered full financial assistance and support to cover the costs of the entire project. Pacific Steel is an essential industry in the South Auckland Community.
Pacific Steel employ more than 450 employees and local residence in many capacities to produce New Zealand’s finest steel, which is essential for the economic and physical growth of our Nation. Pacific Steel is a very environmentally concerned and highly responsible company; having spent millions of dollars to safe-guard the local environment. They have created a natural and sustainable woodland and wetland environment around the Mills, and even maintain an air monitoring station at the Sutton Park School.
So supporting the School Garden Projects was a natural progression to insure that nothing they were doing in the production and manufacturing steel was in any way damaging or harmful to the local environment.
Pacific Steel have participated in every stage of this project. From the organisation, planning and preparation for the event; to their helpful staff assistance in transporting the seedlings and tools to the school site and even taking time out of their busy work schedule to help with the digging and planting along with the children and teachers, community and parents.
with very special thanks for assistance beyond the call-of duty to Mr. Andrew Hibbert, Marketing; Mrs. Jane McLaren, Environmental Engineering Services and Wire Mill Manager, plus their many helpful staff who offered so much assistance from picking up seedlings to clearing, digging, planting and weeding.
for the donation of all the fine tools.
Mt. Wellington and especially Mr. Graham Andrews for their assistance in providing affordable garden supplies.
Mangere East Neighbourhood Policing Team, who very skilfully instigated this project with back-up assistance from Police-persons Mr. Blake James and Ms. Kathy Rose plus the entire Mangere Police Team. Through his determination, excellent communication skills, extensive community contacts, exceptional focus and will-power Sergeant Graham brought all the key participants together to make this project a reality. He is the type of exceptional Community Hero who deserves both praise and reward for his insight and vision that is already transforming a battered and fractionated neighbourhood into a much more liveable, peaceful and productive community.
assistance and back-up support from Mrs. Chris Forrest and Mrs. Cynarra Keeble will ensure that in the future many of the nearby Housing New Zealand homes will be surrounded with beautiful and productive gardens. Housing New Zealand are deserving of much thanks for their intuitive support and sympathetic understanding.
Graham Windross; Aaron Blackmore, Sales Coordinator Christchurch, with assistance locally from Nichola and the Zealandia Growing Team for the beautiful and healthy, strong seedling plants at most affordable prices. Over 3,000 beautiful, healthy and strong seedlings were planted!
who actually created these gardens. Very special thanks for the enthusiastic support from Principal Mrs. Fiona Cavanagh and the determined and devoted efforts of Mary Rahiti and Satya and also including Teachers: John, Jose Gardner, Michael, and custodian Satimei plus all the many others who so eagerly participated in this spectacular planting day and who will grow and maintain their gardens.
who gave their expert and professional time to assist in clearing the land and removing debris and also installing an irrigation system to help maintain the gardens.
Once again, many thanks for what all of you have accomplished already
I am very pleased with what you have achieved, well done!
May these gardens beautify and uplift our local Community and serve as an inspirational model to others to do the same by improving and uplifting their own quality-of life. This would surely bring us into a better world and more bountiful and productive Epoch for Humankind.