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Community gardens prove popular

Riccarton Community Garden_Liv
GROWING COMMUNITY: Riccarton Community Garden volunteers (from left) George Sutton, Nick Te Paa, Sheree Haimona Wharewhiti and Loretta Te Paa have met many people through their work on the garden project. Photo: Olivia Bascand.

By Olivia Bascand, for the Christchurch Mail

Christchurch’s temporary community gardens are proving so popular they may win an extension on their use.

Public gardens have become popular post-quake, but many, such as the community gardens in Riccarton and Christchurch Central, were established under temporary leases so could close when landowners start to rebuild.

Constable Brad Hagerty, from the Riccarton West Policing Team, said the group has been in discussions with Housing NZ and is hopeful that it will extend the 12-month lease on the Peverel Street garden. “But at this stage, the lease is uncontrollable for us.”

Also on a temporary lease is the Fitzgerald Ave garden created by landowner Tony Gray and the Greening the Rubble trust.

Gray said the garden gets about 50 to 100 visitors a week and for the past two years local residents have volunteered about 10 hours a week on the garden.

“People knew from the start that the site was only temporary,” he said.

Given how popular the garden has been, however, Gray is now considering incorporating a garden into his redevelopment of the site.

The Canterbury Community Gardens Association website lists more than 25 community gardens across the region, which it says help to break down social isolation by bringing people together.

Project Lyttelton operations manager Anne Jaiswal said the Lyttelton community garden was a permanent space that held weekly shared lunches, education programmes for children and a new food sustainability awareness project.

“It attracts many people, not just for gardening,” she said.  “It’s a vital networking place for our community.”