(Posted on behalf of Julie)
This been a great time in the garden, there’s been a lot happening in the year. I planted sweet peas to bring in new friends and I think it worked. I’ve made lots of new friends through the greenest st competition; we have worked together on a number of projects.
The children’s community garden has been planted with three crops now. The beetroot are long eaten as are radish, we have a great store of garlic, lettuces consumed, sweet peas finished. We still have crops of strawberries, alpine too (a white strawberry), they are eaten daily. The neighbourhood children come and check out the garden, harvest the produce, grapes, peas, strawberries, zucchini etc…They exclaim….wow….if they haven’t been for a bit. One keen 11year old boy Dean came and asked for seeds yesterday to start a garden at home…..I sent him away with 12 different seeds of choice, and will help him establish his own garden if he so desires.
During the holidays the ‘food foresters’ come, my grandson and his mates, they enjoy the children’s garden, forage, mulch, plant, eat, run skip and hop through, water too. This is a little group of four Phoenix, Keish, Ngha and Tyler 5yr-8yrs, they often stay the night, we have BBQs, fires on the beach, bike rides, foraging around the neighbourhood and swims at the river, sea and pool. These are special times for me. We are developing a food forest at 42 Queens Rd.
There are many more children that come regularly to the garden, Reily, Cole, Lilly, Holly, Lola, Ezra, Tahana to name but a few. There have been some that just come for Lantern Festival…..a very special time in the garden. Children come and make Lanterns, we sing songs, think and speak about Matariki, contemplate the garden…..what will we sow Set up lantern scenes, we had a light house in the pond, boats, sailors, mermaids. This is how we celebrate the short day, longest night and the return of the sun, the ground warming up with the approach of spring. A story is told, always Maori i.e. Maui catches the sun. A bonfire made with marshmallows toasted. We share food together. It’s a magical vibe to put into the garden.
It’s not just children that visit the garden, I had two 70year old + woman come and sit in the garden eat the produce and take food home. I met Julie on the train and told her what we were up to, she brought her friend round too. Another Julie brought me lemon balm for the garden, I planted it in the meditation spot Kelly and I planned. We have a bit of an open home, people just rock on up, we like this.
My new greenest st friends are a blessing, on the 1st Sunday of the month we get together at 3pm. We share food, our lives, seeds, seedlings, plants, laughs and invitations. Sigi gave me marigolds seeds which are flourishing in the community garden, as are the pumpkin seeds given by Hannah Zwartz at our raised garden workshop. We have had her around twice, talking community gardens too. So many of the plants in the garden are from friends and visitors to the community garden. Lisa gave a banana in exchange for use of wwoofers. Lisa’s back was out and she needed some help lifting her worm farms and mowing her lawn, I was able to loan 2 gorgeous young French boys. Lisa has moved recently, she will be sadly missed; she started our Friday happy hour drinks at the Waimea. What could be better than sitting at the beach having a beer with your’ friends on Friday afternoons? Not just greenest st people come to the Waimea, we invite every. Especially new people to the area, I met Andrew and Lily this way. More Homeschoolers, we get together to do craft, yoga and fun.
Wwoofers have contributed sooooo much to the garden, Our 1st French fellas built the community garden, planted apple, pear, banana, plum, potatoes. Alex made the beautiful outside table and painted me an awesome picture of Kapiti. Im still in contact with Alex. Kelly from the US and Josh from around the rd (I taught him at Te Ra school, he loves community garden and was involved with rainbow court) built us an outdoor solar shower, great for when your have been swimming in the sea. So many gifts of love and work from wwoofers, couch surfers, Rainbow sisters and others. In fact Simon and I have so many international visitors the bus drivers just drop them off at the gate!
I’m trying to get off the grid…..solar shower is part of that plan….as is the Pyro Classic fire with wetback that I installed. It also has a cook top and oven. Power bills are low, I had a $15 power bill in winter….how is that possible? Usually though they are around $30 winter, $60 summer….because of the hot water. The house is warm and cosy, most of the wood has been sourced off this property. It is the most energy efficient wood burner in the world. Another getting off the grid thing is the community kitchen, an outdoor kitchen in the garden, with a BBQ (we smoked an eel in the chimney), and the solar shower doubles as hot water for the sink. We had a meal in there where we ate off banana leaves and canna lily leaves as plates, cooked on the BBQ, washed up in the sink with hot water. No waste, we composted our plates and stick chop sticks.
I’ve shared many dinners with the neighbours since this all began; we’ve shared fish from the river, produce from the garden, wine, family. Denise took my last woofers to stay with her; they retained her front section while still at my house. I ran out of work and she had some heaving lifting well suited to strong young men. Her daughter sky has taken out another wwoofer Yelva, showed her Wellington. As has Simon…..he always invites my woofers over for dinner…our neighbours are so welcoming.
Graeme Peterson our local and national treasure has come for dinner and lunch, he has donated irrigation for the community garden, helped me with my horticultural assignment, planted up the local reserves, provide plants for the plantings, bikes to my house, he is so active at 90years. We are so grateful to have him among us.
The neighbours have been dropping off bottles for a bottle wall, shed something….perhaps many things. I look like a bit of an alcoholic with all these bottles laying around…..it’s not me …..it’s my mates….lol. So if you see a pile of bottles at my gate you know I’m just building not drinking ah.
I’m into Bio Dynamics, we had some friends around to stir up 500 and make compost with the preps. Helps to make the garden productive and magical. I’ve had some contact with the wider community expressing interest. Invites to join our group have been sent.
We won some seeds from Loveplantlife, so I’ve ordered them and I will propagate them and distribute them throughout the neighbour and community. I thought I would try and encourage some more young gardeners to get something going at home. Harvest Festival might be a good time to reach out to the community.
I was able to get a waste reduction grant to buy a community mulcher, which was purchased at the beginning of the year. Each month we get a new user. The neighbour right next door is on board for the food forest here, she has planted 3 fejoas down the fence line and an orange. She has taken out two Norfolk pines and made use of the mulcher to clean up. The neighbour on the other side has booked the mulcher too. It’s getting around the hood and town.
Last weekend Sigi, Simon and I went to a community pick at an orchard in Peka Peka. We journeyed there by bike, picked pears and apples; they were donated to food banks and sold for charity. I was a very pleasant way to spend Sunday morning and healthful too. It was nice to catch up with Joy.
I’ve had a water tank installed to catch rainwater, this irrigates my back yard. It also fills a bath tub pond with goldfish. The goldfish were put in the pond in the community garden when Ann, Jak and I first built it, but it sprung a leak and we were needing to fill it each day from the water tank, we were worried the fish were going to fry in the hot sun, so we created the back pond. The ‘food foresters’ and I have a plan to catch frogs for that front pond. The neighbour Dom who provided the fish tells us there are frogs at the golf club…..our next adventure.
Thank you Kapiti District council for the greenest St Competition; it’s bought so many new people into my life a blessing and a joy.