An open day is planned to invite the local community to enjoy a special garden that has been developed on the grounds of the Lawrence Medical Centre.
The garden was established by local adult students on a free course provided by Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, an indigenous tertiary education provider in Whakatane.
Course leader and local schoolteacher Natasha Hughes said the certificate in kai oranga (healthy eating) taught people how to grow their own garden using sustainable practices, while learning about traditional Maori approaches to food and wellbeing.
This was the first time the course had run in the South Island, Mrs Hughes said.
As well as providing useful learning, she hoped the wider community would embrace the gardens as their own.
“We have an open door policy – we want everyone to come.”
The aim was to encourage the local community to feel part of the garden, so that as well as being a teaching resource for future students, the produce would be available for the community to share.
“If we get good kai and we get to the point where we have a bountiful supply, come and get some,” Mrs Hughes said.
The garden featured native plants including kamu kamu, a form of marrow, kowiniwini (potatoes) and pini (purple beans).
Seeds were from the Koanga Institute heritage food plant collection, based near Wairoa, in Hawke’s Bay.
Lawrence Medical Centre manager Mark Chapman said the centre was happy to provide land for the gardens.
“We are a community charitable trust, owned and operated by the community, so what they are doing fits hand-in-hand with what we do ourselves,” he said.
Mr Chapman said the area was previously overgrown grass in a paddock. Now it looked more attractive and had created involvement for the community, allowing people to participate if they chose.
“We get something back in return, because they’ve actually produced some good produce out of it already that we can bring into our own kitchen.
“To get freshly home-grown vegetables out of a garden like that is great,” Mr Chapman said.
The open day will take place on March 11 from 2pm-5pm , and will feature a seedlings table, where children can learn about planting, children’s games, a sensory table, a treasure hunt and a scarecrow competition.
For more information phone Natasha Hughes on 021 601-0667.