Collection scheme earns nomination

22:38, Nov 02 2011
fruit
FINALIST: Di Celliers is a finalist in the NZ Gardener of the Year for her community fruit harvesting initiative.

Di Celliers is finally seeing the fruits of her labour after being selected as one of 15 regional finalists in the NZ Gardener of the Year.

Browns Bay resident Mrs Celliers is the woman behind the Community Fruit Harvest.

It's an initiative in which volunteers collect spare fruit from people's laden trees and orchards and then pass it on to those in need.

"My idea started small. I'm one of those people when I think of an idea I just go for it," Mrs Celliers says.

Almost every weekend Mrs Celliers' garage is filled with a fresh harvest. The following Tuesday it is collected by the Auckland City Mission.

Families all over Auckland have received fresh fruit, marmalade and jam thanks to Mrs Celliers' smart thinking.

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"It's given me a new lease on life. It's so rewarding and I feel such joy being in the outdoors with these people," she says.

It is no surprise her idea has gone national, with harvests already under way in Hamilton and Wellington.

"What I'm trying to do now is to find some way that we can form a lasting connection between fruit growers and places like respite centres and retirement villages. Somebody with a bit of free space on a truck or a freighting company that might be willing to help out," she says.

"As one team you can only do so much but more and more people are getting on board and I feel that we are making a difference."

Despite putting smiles on many faces, Mrs Celliers says she feels undeserving of a nomination for NZ Gardener of the Year."I'm a bit puzzled. I'm only picking, not growing it. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the people offering their fruit and my volunteers," she says.

The winner of the NZ Gardener of the Year will be chosen by public vote and announced in the January 2012 edition of New Zealand Gardener.

Voting closes on November 30.

"I know that it is in most people to want to do good. This is an opportunity for them," Mrs Celliers says.

North Shore Times