Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gardening Popular as Economy Crashes

I've been reading about the coming crash for so many years now that even as it starts I cant force myself to pay attention. Every morning brings new storys about this or that bank collapse, yo - yoing oil and commodity prices and looming economic recession. I have to remind myself that to the average person all of this is brand new and that the average person has no idea how bad things are going to get.

All the bad news and rising food prices have been great for gardening and nurserys and garden centers across Auckland are rapidly selling out of edible plants. On the back of all of this I recently helped a journalist out with a story about saving money through gardening. His single minded focus on the financial benefits of gardening seemed really odd to me and ever time I went off on a tangent about the political, emotional and environmental benefits of gardening his pen would stop moving. As soon as I got back onto how much broccoli cost or how much it cost to build a garden bed his pen would start moving furiously.

As part of the story I had to travel to my parents place so a photographer could get a picture of me in a garden. After posing beside my silverbeet patch one day I got a phone call saying the photos were'nt quite what he wanted and would I be able to do a second lot of photos? So the next day it was on the train once again and this time the photographer wanted me to dress up in gloves and a hat and hold carrots and a basket full of vegies. So after posing in various places all over the garden I was expecting to see a photo of me in the paper. However they didnt use the second days pictures either and instead went with a photo of another lady in her rather bare looking garden.

I will be meeting another journalist next week about a longer term project around gardening which sounds fun. I will write more as I get details.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Housing New Zealand

Early this year I got a call from a resident living in a government owned and subsidised housing complex. The complex was pretty much brand new but because of its cramped nature and the hundred or so kids living in it there were already some pretty bad vandalism issues. As one of the strategies to combat this and to build community spirit this resident was really keen to get garden beds put in at most of the houses. After a bunch of meetings we got funding to put in ten small beds and I provided seedlings about six months ago.

About a month ago I got another call and it turns out that Housing NZ were keen to fund another 15 garden beds. When I turned up with seedlings for the new gardens I was a bit nervous aobut how the original beds would be going but most were thriving. As I went round the houses many residents offered me food which they were cooking using the vegies from their gardens. Seeds I helped plant six months ago were now healthy thick rows of carrots. Fragile broccoli seedlings were now heads the size of dinner plates.

I was way to busy talking to kids and parents to get many photos but here are three, one of a new garden bed and two of a garden bed that was put in a few months ago. This has been a great project to be a part of and left me with a real buzz

A similar project is being proposed for all of south Auckland which I may be a part of. The scope of the proposed project is enormous with thousands of gardeners trained and potentially dozens of community gardens set up. While I have only played a small role in this bigger project it is awesome to know that despite the global ecological crisis we are undergoing that there are some real small solutions out there.

Apologies for the Absence

So apologies for the absensence, I have been working hard on a couple of projects and moved into a flat which did not have access to the internet. I do have the internet now though and will be resuming regular posting about gardening across Auckland city. Interest in gardening is sky rocketing in NZ and I have been contacted by numerous journalists for storys over the past two months including two from national news papers. I have an upcoming long term project with a local news paper but I will write more about that when I have a bit more detail.

I'm living in a central suburb and unfortunately my landlord won't let me have a garden so I have been doing work at the Unitec gardens as well as at various community gardens including the Kingsland gardens. I have a backlogue of pictures so I will get on to posting.