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Growing community – Kapiti Coast’s Greenest Street Challenge in full swing – by Stacey Gasson

Submitted by on March 4, 2012 – 9:06 pm

If you’re looking for motivation to get gardening, Kāpiti Coast’s Greenest Street Competition might be just the ticket. Visitors to participating streets could be forgiven for thinking they’d signed up for some kind of gardening challenge. Words like vegetables, compost, harvest, mulch and worms are liberally sprinkled through their conversation and their blogs provide an enthusiastic record of some of the green-fingered activities they’ve been pursing.

 As part of the support provided by the Council, the streets have been offered a range of workshops – so far we’ve seen groups gather to learn about liquefying noxious weeds, re-using greywater, encouraging backyard biodiversity, composting, and generally improving their gardens. They’ve also sought inspiration beyond their backyards, starting with garden tours of their neighbourhoods.Alexander Roadresidents carpooled to go further afield to the Waikanae Garden Trail (noting a shortage of larger vegetable gardens and mulch), Lavender Creek Farm open day and judge Joy Darke’s garden.

Armed with inspiration and newly-acquired knowledge, gardening bees have come to the fore.  Wellington Road got started in November, with a lovely blog entry detailing the communal labour that got Peter and Theresa’s garden set for summer. Rumour has it, there’s been nine or more garden bees since! That sounds like a lot of gardening, but working together is a great way to transform a chore into a constructive social event. You also get to borrow tools, there’s usually good food afterwards, and your garden will get a turn at the two-hour transformation too….

‘Kakariki Street’, an entrant in the 2010/11 competition, enjoyed gardening bees so much, they’ve opened them beyond their initial group and made a casually weekly event of garden blitzes followed by a pot-luck dinner. And Rainbow Court’s community garden continues to grow strong and lush – Glenda tells me they meet regularly to keep it going and those who are unable to weed and dig often pop by with morning tea.

The fruits of this year’s participants’ labour are now beginning to appear, with Gwen fromAlexander Road providing an inspiring commentary on her latest harvests. Carolyn fromGrange Park Avehas also shared some great blogs on the state of her garden, with her latest professing her passion for compost.

In both rounds of this competition, I’ve noticed there’s something that happens when we start thinking about living more sustainably. Food comes to the forefront of our thoughts – and there’s nothing more sustainable than taking a look around the garden to see what’s for dinner tonight. We know where it’s come from, how it was grown and that it’s as fresh as you can get.

From there it’s a short step to composting our food and garden waste to create nutrition for next year’s crop; or learning to preserve the unexpectedly prolific tomatoes and zucchini. Somehow we all know that growing our food is a better option for ourselves and the planet.

Resources:

  • You can find four pages of useful gardening resources, written for the Greenest Street participants, here.
  • The Council Green Gardener, Hannah Zwartz, offers sustainable and waterwise gardening advice to local residents, community groups and schools. Community visits are free – get together five friends or neighbours and invite the Green Gardener round. Workshops: Formal 2-hour workshops cost $50 (you can charge participants). To contact the Green Gardener, call the Council on 04-296 4700 or 0800 486 486, or see www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/greenservices
  • Download the Green Gardener’s information sheets on nutrient recycling, grey-water, herb spirals, no-dig gardening, growing fruit, rain tanks and summer pests here.
  • Wondering what a biodigester is? Find instructions at www.dirtdoctor.co.nz or get the Green Gardener along for a demonstration.
  • www.wholelarderlove.com for a well-written and interesting blog by an Australian bloke who loves good food and growing it in his own small backyard.
  • http://www.ted.com/talks/roger_doiron_my_subversive_garden_plot.html for an inspiring call to take up your spade and garden.

For more information on the competition and links to the streets’ blogs, see www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/greenest-street or contact the Sustainable Communities Coordinator on 04-296 4700. The Greenest Street competition is an initiative of the Kapiti Coast District Council.

 

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