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Christchurch South Community Gardens (CSCG) and New Brighton Community Gardens (NBCG) are dedicated to the development of sustainable neighbourhoods. Their gardens let Christchurch communities share not only skills and time together, but also ecological awareness and fresh produce.
Based in Sydenham since 1999, CSCG has developed its 800 square-metre site into a productive local food supply and garden centre, explained Christine Blance, Trust Manager. “The exchange system is a trust-based economy, with residents accessing crops and plants any time for a koha.
“While the participation in and patronage of the gardens has gradually increased over the years, after the Christchurch Earthquakes it was clear local residents needed an accessible emergency food supply when many other outlets were temporarily closed,” she said.
The devastating earthquakes affected the city’s eastern suburbs badly, increasing demand on the New Brighton gardens also, remembered Cathy Sweet, Business Manager of NBCG. “We opened temporarily on Saturdays after the quakes. So many people wanted company and a positive activity where life could go on in an orderly and nurtured way.”
The social interaction in the gardens sits right up there with the food and produce grown as an incentive for workers. Graeme Dickey, a volunteer at the New Brighton gardens, put it this way: “It’s about meeting more locals and making good friends. And it’s stimulating because I’m learning much more about gardening and growing fruit trees.”
The Tindall Foundation backed both of these community gardens as part of our strategy to support and improve the resilience of those who were affected by the Canterbury Earthquakes. Over a two-year period from 2012 we contributed $15,000 a year to CSCG and $10,000 a year to NBCG, helping with operating expenses and wages.
For CSCG, the funding further permitted a focus on sustainability. That included public communication through a programme of signage created by local artist Lily Duval, an initiative praised by Bryan Clapp, Board of Trustees member: “The artwork in the garden is a drawcard for the community to come in and see what else we do — it is a talking point.”
With the grant, CSCG also improved its capacity to deliver goods and services intelligently on a size-limited site, said Christine: “This year we successfully recycled over 16 tonnes of organic waste and 4 tonnes of inorganic waste. From this we produced over 5 tonnes of compost and 1.5 tonnes of food crops for the community.”
Meanwhile at the New Brighton gardens, funding to retain a key employee freed up resources to add education stations for children and adults that demonstrate gardening and living practices, including water collection, worm farming and rongoa (medicinal) plants.
When it comes to community involvement, it seems Christchurch is living up to its reputation as the Garden City.
For more information contact:
Christchurch South: Christine Blance, Trust Manager
New Brighton: Cathy Sweet, Business Manager
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