Public garden vegetables thrown out

KAROLINE TUCKEY
Last updated 09:59 16/10/2012
HUTvegeweb

Out with the old: Council gardeners making way for new plantings by removing the last season’s plants, including silverbeet and parsley.

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Produce from Hutt City Council gardens should be offered to families instead of thrown away, a Waterloo man says.

Terry Blackett says he was disappointed to see council gardeners disposing of vegetables from a decorative council garden that edges the road outside the central War Memorial library last week.

"I drove past and they were pulling it up, and chucking it in a truck with the other weeds.

"I thought 'what a gross waste of a resource that can be used'."

Mr Blackett believes silverbeet, lettuce and parsley were among the plants being thrown out.

"It'd feed half of Naenae . . . [or] the food banks . . . a couple of bunches of that in the package would go a long way.

"They've just been talking about kids in this country going hungry. We should encourage more from everybody, and it's got to start at the top, and the council are just chucking this stuff away."

However, the council's Parks and Reserves division manager Bruce Hodgins says vegetables from decorative gardens can't be used as food as there are questions over their safety.

"The beds are along the road way we are a little bit uncertain about whether it's appropriate to pass that on."

Insecticide could have been applied to the flower beds and lead and other pollutants from car exhausts could be absorbed by the plants.

There are typically very few edible plants used in council gardens, Mr Hodgins says.

HCC gardeners do tend to one raised vegetable garden specifically set aside to grow vegetables that are provided to the food bank. That garden is behind buildings away from the road, and "they are specifically looked after for eating," Mr Hodgins says.

"We're happy to pass them on and they've been good, they've had a bit of cabbage and silverbeet and other things this winter. When we give stuff to the food bank we make sure that it's freshly picked."

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