Community Garden

LINK Community Gardens at the Hub… a great story to tell

Once upon a time there were six planter boxes at the Wānaka Community Hub, provided by the Hub Trust when they built this collaborative community space, open to all.

The “before” picture

The Hub made these planter boxes available to community development organisation LINK Upper Clutha to start a community gardens project.  The idea was to connect people without space, resources, or gardening knowledge with volunteers who could teach them how to grow their own!  LINK funded the materials, plants, and coordination time to get the project off the ground. 

The first step was to recruit both novice and expert gardeners to join the collective team.  The volunteers emerged first… people like “Dr. Compost” Ben Elms, offering advice on the materials needed, and Chloe Rowe from Grow Wanaka, a newly formed group of gardeners working on their own gardening social enterprise at the Outlet.  Diana Manson from QLDC lent a hand in the beginning, and we found an amazing handyman and helper in Glenn Yates who has been a stalwart. 

Finding novice gardeners was easier said than done… but after advertising and outreach we had a fabulous combination of families, community groups, and individuals to take responsibility for each of the six planter boxes.  M!NT Charitable Trust, the Wanaka Library, the Mental Health Peer Support Group, two local families, and one long term visitor are our gardening team.

Next step, prepping the planter boxes!  Made of treated timber, they had to be molesealed for food safety and water resilience.

That moleseal is sticky stuff…
Sealed and ready for soil!

Great, six empty, sealed planter boxes… now what to fill them with??  Soil of course – not just any dirt but 12 cubes of topsoil and mushroom compost mixed together by a volunteer crew at our first big working bee… we had our novice gardeners, expert gardeners, plus a bunch of helper volunteers from MAC’s Team Green and a year 8 social studies student.  Ben Elms advised on the ideal mix for rich, productive soil.

In case you wondered what 12 cubic metres of dirt looks like…
Heavy lifting!
Getting just the right mix…
Of course there was food to keep the workers going…
What a great team effort!
Shopping for plants and assorted garden equipment was amusing… thanks Mitre10!

The next working bee was planting the dozens of seedlings and seeds.  A sunny Sunday saw our crew back again, first sorting who was going to use what…

Stop making us pose for photos, Kathy!
Watering the soil before plants go in

Then what everyone had been waiting for… plants being planted… with plenty of expert advice and lots of love…

What to put where?

So here it was, all planted out with baby plants…

The seedlings are adorable!
Everyone looking pretty happy with their hard work

Next phase… watering and growing.  We’re all about teamwork – the crew organising a watering roster – each family or group is responsible for watering one day of the week.  Turns out there’s lots to learn about effective watering, bug management, and placing netting over your strawberries so the birds don’t nab them.  Thanks Chloe for all your tips in the past fortnight. 

Amazing what a bit of water, sun, and nurturing will do…
Chloe harvested greens to donate to the Community Networks Foodbank – pictured here handing over to Kathy
The Men from Mitre10!

Meet James and Matt from Mitre10 – huge thanks to Mitre10 for their generous support of our starter set of garden equipment, and their ongoing advice and partnership.  We will continue working with them in 2021! 

The Yard was also a big supporter, providing our soil and compost at a generous discount – thanks Don!

Stay tuned for garden updates in 2021!