Gardening for the good life

JOE DAWSON
Last updated 05:00 30/01/2013
Community Garden

GOOD START: A newly established community garden at Liston Retirement Village has been a great initiative, head gardener Wendy Claire says. She is pictured at the garden flanked by fellow resident Bernadette O’Neil and Gardens for Health representative Richard Main.

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The good life has come to an Auckland retirement village.

A new community garden tended by residents at the Liston Retirement Village in Hillsborough has transformed not only the earth it is dug on but also the lives of those involved.

Village resident Wendy Claire got the wheels moving on turning what was a wasteland populated by waist-high weeds last year.

In "another life" Mrs Claire helped establish community gardens in West Auckland and felt her green fingers twitching again last year.

"We had our first meeting around August when we started floating the idea, we needed people to be interested in maintaining the garden," she says.

After determining there was enough interest to go ahead with the project Mrs Claire got the anti-diabetes and obesity organisation Gardens for Health on board to help with designing and building the plot.

Gardens for Health will continue to support the garden in coming years.

"What we wanted to do was cultivate a supply of fresh, organic produce cheaply.

"The other thing is that it's a fantastic way of helping people connect with each other and their food, and be self sufficient.

"We've got the good life, we've got everything to make the heart sing."

The garden is designed to allow most village residents to get involved.

"We have raised beds that are hip-high so people who can't bend down can still participate. People are being much more active, we have people on walkers coming up.

"People just come up and sit because it's just so peaceful and lovely. The garden is not just for digging, but supporting, admiring and buying produce from.

"Nothing is mandatory, you don't have to do anything."

The garden is on previously abandoned land between the village and its neighbours Monte Cecilia Catholic School and a garden plot has been set aside for school pupils.

Richard Main of Gardens for Health says he would like to see more gardens in retirement villages.

"It's a social enterprise, like growing a community from the ground up by growing food."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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