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Community gardens on the rise

BY SARAH WARTERS
Last updated 10:05 07/11/2012
Jenee Knight

Jenee Knight ready to dig into her family's garden patch

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A warm, spring day provided the perfect setting for Laura and Ken Knight’s newly planted seedlings.

The Knights are the first family in Te Aroha to start their Hand over a Hundy Garden.

For the next 12 months the Te Aroha couple will learn how to grow their own vegetables with the hope of becoming more self-sustainable and learning new skills to teach their five young girls.

They were given $100 to kick-start their garden and will be encouraged to save $100 by putting money aside, by eating their own produce, selling food or seedlings or making chutneys or sauces, which they can learn through upskilling days.

In a year's time they will hopefully be able to pass on $100 to another family who want to start a garden.

Armed with spades, compost and seedlings, Hand Over a Hundy co-ordinator for Matamata-Piako, Lisa Mackay, and garden mentor Deborah Brown, from Kereone, got to work turning a piece of dirt into a thriving garden patch filled with a range of vegetable seedlings including lettuce, spring onions, cauliflower and spinach.

Mrs Brown has been matched with the Knights to help them with their garden so they get the most out of it.

‘‘I’ve been gardening almost my whole life. I want to inspire people with their own gardens and share my knowledge,’’ Mrs Brown said.

She said there are many benefits to vegetable gardens, from cheaper produce to tastier food and it’s easy enough for anyone to achieve once they are pointed in the right direction.

‘‘It’s just keeping up with planting at the right time. Now is the ideal time. In winter they grow a bit more slower, but if you grow in autumn you have things before winter.’’

Laura Knight said she and Ken jumped at the opportunity to be part of the Hand Over a Hundy project

‘‘We had a go at a garden last year, but it didn’t work out so well. But now we’ve got some professional advice. We thought it would be a great opportunity to learn from experience this time.’’

Mrs Mackay said Hand Over a Hundy is progressing really well and they’ve had a lot of positive support from the community.

She hopes the planting of the Knight’s garden will inspire other families to come on board with the project.

Enough money has been raised through the Handy Over a Hundy committee to donate $100 to 10 families in Matamata-Piako and kick-start their gardens.

Three more families and two mentors are still needed in Te Aroha, while one more family is needed in Morrinsville.

If anyone wants to learn more about Hand Over a Hundy or become involved please email Lisa Mackay on: handoverahundywaikato@gmail.com.

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