A DEDICATED few work in the Pakowhai Community Garden in the heart of Opotiki. Photos supplied
  • Adopt a garden bed

FOR the past 18 months, a handful of community minded gardeners have worked hard to create and maintain Pakowhai Community Garden in Elliott Street.

But its creators are now calling for the community to take ownership of the garden which, will otherwise close by the end of the year.

The garden was first established in the sunny backyard of Whakaatu Whanaunga Trust’s Youth and Whanau Activity Centre (WYAC) through a collaborative effort that involved Envirohub Bay of Plenty and the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in March 2017.

Tanja Rother was among the founders of the garden. She said there was now a core of about four to five people keeping it going.

“It was always my personal aspiration to create a community garden in Opotiki but we are now calling on the community to take on board what we created.”

Initially, the garden’s main purpose was to provide fresh vegetables and herbs to The Shed cafe, run by Toi Ohomai at YWAC; students on the course were encouraged to incorporate the garden into their cafe operation.

Beyond the cafe, the garden’s vision was also to revive the simple art of growing your own healthy food in Opotiki/Pakowhai, which was known to have had extensive cultivations in pre-European times, she said.

GARDEN beds are up for adoption at the Pakowhai Community Garden.

The initiators wanted the garden to become a place of inspiration, learning and sharing for the community.

Several hands-on workshops were held at the garden, from starting your own garden to fermenting brassicas.

When the popular training cafe was discontinued because of a lack of new students, the produce from the garden went to a weekly vege stall and was freely available to anyone in need. Surplus veges were donated to Whakaatu’s foodbank.

What’s on offer? Four large mulched garden beds and more in a sheltered, sunny backyard in central Opotiki, with access to water; an established relationship with Mitre 10 Opotiki, as the main sponsor, plus a great following on the garden’s Facebook page.

The basics are there now said Ms Rother. Now what the garden needs is a group or an organisation with dedication and commitment to grab the opportunities that the garden offers for bringing the community together and putting nutritious food on people’s tables.

“If Taneatua (Hugh’s Place) and Kawerau’s (Urban Food Forest) can do it, why couldn’t Opotiki?”

Ms Rother urged people to talk to them at one of their final working bees on Sunday, October 14 and Sunday, November 11, 1-3pm, at 25 Elliott Street, or contact Shanti Webby at Whakaatu Whanaunga Trust, phone 07 315 5174, email: Shanti.Webby@wwt.org.nz.

Visit the garden’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/Opotiki/ for more information.