By Angela Rogers
Local charity Good Neighbour Trust’s community gardens at Bethlehem are the result of awesome foresight and a lot of planning by some incredibly insightful individuals. In partnership with Bethlehem Community Church, who are the generous landowners, the gardens were built with the aim of transforming communities, one garden at a time. In the seven plus years they have been around, they have made a difference.
At the garden site there are 57 garden beds looked after by an incredible bunch of dedicated volunteers. The perimeter garden beds are for members of the local community to harvest something for themselves to contribute to a meal; and the remainder are “Growing For Good Beds”, sponsored beds to enhance the garden’s capacity to grow healthy, nutritious food for distribution to local organisations and charities in our communities, and in doing so provide beds for learning how to garden. Volunteers are able to work in these garden beds, learn more, and know that their efforts are going back to community organisations that need what is grown.
The volunteers at the gardens are totally inspired with the aim of connecting communities through gardens. The gardens are a place where paying attention to plants makes people pay attention to themselves, their gardening buddies and their communities, and in doing so, create an enjoyable space to play during the volunteer mornings in the gardens. They meet every Wednesday 9am – 12noon, at Bethlehem Community Gardens 183 Moffat Road, everyone is welcome for a cuppa and morning tea.
There has been a great response from the community with fantastic feedback: “What an awesome community garden! Keep on planting. You guys ROCK!”
“Thank you guys. Job well done. Much appreciated. Keep it up. Excellent learning experiences, great social aspect with other volunteers. A sharing sense of contribution to a good cause.”
“The range of vegetables is extensive, and it is enjoyable sharing ideas and knowledge with each other … I can see how fantastic the Good Neighbour initiative is for those involved and the communities where the gardens are sited.”
“The community gardens give me a place to chill out, be present, and enjoy the company of friends in the making. Together we have a great time, and know we are making a difference, no matter how small that is. I look forward to my time in these gardens. One of the highlights of my week.”
There is also a “Swap and Share Stall” out the front of the gardens for the community to share what they have grown or have in abundance. Every Wednesday the community gather to fill the stall with amazing seasonal fruit, vegetables and seedlings. It’s a real highlight and a way to connect with people in need in our local neighbourhoods.
- Food Rescue: Rescues food and redistributes to local charities and organisations.
- Kitchen: Mentors students while learing practical skills in the kitchen.
- Community Gardens: Volunteers grow food for the community.
- Projects: Backyard Blitz, firewood and small projects.
- Whānau Care: Equipping families to thrive.
If you would like to support the community gardens or any of the other great work Good Neighbour does, please go to their website to donate www.goodneighbour.co.nz
Republished with permission from Nourish Magazine