Small plots of land around All Saints Church in Nelson are being dug up and turned into vegetable gardens.
The produce will be used at the Loaves and Fishes kitchen the church runs providing meals four days a week to those on the margins in the Nelson community.
Loaves and Fishes co-ordinator Mary Sullivan said it was also about offering those people an opportunity to keep busy, learn a new skill, giving them a measure of respect and enabling them to give back to the community.
"We're excited about the possibilities this has," said Mrs Sullivan, who has a background in horticultural management.
She is big on edible gardens and is modelling the project on a similar one which the Sisters of Compassion run in Wellington.
"We like the ethos of the Sisters of Compassion who believe that being part of the wider community and engaging in meaningful activities is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of all people."
Loaves and Fishes volunteer Terry Walsh has become a garden manager and is keen to make the project work.
Volunteers Jeffrey Gill and Nigel Heine have dug the first plot by the church car park, planting it with silverbeet and parsley. Now they are transforming an area at the back of Bishop Eaton House.
"This is about helping these guys to get some self worth, and get them into work," Mr Walsh said.
Mr Heine, who has been with All Saints for 2 years, does bar training.
"I had to do some volunteer work here and ended up stopping and becoming a Christian."
The community garden was also about providing some vegetables, herbs and fruit for the Loaves and Fishes meals albeit on a small scale. "The people who eat here should help to do the garden," he said.
Mr Gill, who describes himself as a beneficiary and an artist, said he had been coming to Loaves and Fishes for seven years. He had been homeless, and the garden and the meals were about providing for the homeless and low-income people.
Mrs Sullivan said while there were not large amounts of land for the gardens, using small plots also demonstrated to families who came to its Thursday meal that they too could grow food at home.
- © Fairfax NZ News