Ewen's garden

A collection of columns, paintings and photographs about gardening on an offshore island in New Zealand.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A concept germinates

On Saturday I attended a meeting of the new group ‘Growing Healthy Communities’. Present at the meeting were about 12 people bringing together a wide range of expertise, knowledge and skills across a range of related areas. The objectives of the group are to enable a healthy active community through the development of individual, school and community gardens, providing a sustainable food source. In achieving this knowledge and skills can be passed on, active exercise, less waste from supermarket packaging, reduced supermarket costs, less reliance on food imported to the country or the island and supporting the idea of families working together.
Other topics covered were the idea of using older people who have knowledge of gardening but not the physical fitness to maintain their gardens. If they could be involved as mentors for younger people and help by passing on their expertise while having their gardens maintained and also providing social interaction for the older people while providing access to existing gardens. Excess produce could be put into a food exchange; a stall of this type is already being run by the people of the community garden at
A survey of existing gardens and fruit trees was discussed. This was thought best approached by surveying families via schools. This information could then be used for a larger scale food exchange. So work is going to commence on tree mapping, no small task! As a result some amount of assistance in this will be required.
Another topic discussed included the two primary school’s gardens. Both are establishing vegetable gardens and orchards. To this end a working bee is going to be organised for the Waiheke Primary School.
For further information on meetings and how you may be able to be involved please contact either; Zack McCracken (Health Promotion Co-ordinator) 372 1067 or Denise Rouche 372 2915.
With the storms of last week now passed, many will be assessing the damage and shoring up loosened plants and trees. But for many it is the end of the line, nothing for but the chainsaw! If you are replacing fallen trees or shrubs, it makes good sense to ensure they are well secured. Most important is to keep the root balls from moving in the soil, allowing the roots to take hold and establish themselves. If using bamboo stakes with small ties it is important to keep an eye on these ties as over time they may come to rub or constrict the growth of the trunk or stem.
The other thing about the storm I felt was the poignant reminder to us all that we are prone to the ravages of nature and we would be prudent to review our emergency supplies. I was surprised to hear the number of people who were totally without water on account of the fact they had no gravity fed tap. Our household has the benefit of gas for cooking and of course a small vegetable garden. Nothing beats fresh greens for dinner by candle light! It may not be a storm next time, imagine a great earthquake knocking out the power supply from the South Island, that would no doubt see us having to live for much longer periods without power or other necessities, but at least with our own fruit and vegetables we won’t be too bad off.


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