Grown by the community, for the community - Mairehau Community Gardens

It was gratifying to be invited to the official opening of the Mairehau Community Garden in the Christchurch suburb of St Albans, a culmination of a total of 12 months’ work.

Overseen by the Neighbourhood Trust, the garden has been designed with a ‘garden to plate’ vision that will include a series of workshops to teach skills that people can use in their home gardens, such as propagation, planting, pruning, harvesting, preserving, bottling and composting, says Community Development Worker, Don Benn.

The garden features a polytunnel, pergola seating, composting station and raised vegetable and flower beds.

The idea for a community garden grew from the work the trust does in the Mairehau community providing kai support to people in need. After consultation and engagement with the local community, the  Neighbourhood Trust had a purpose for what the garden should achieve. From that point, through collaboration with The Green Lab and contributions from other organisations including Citycare Property, the garden came to fruition in early November 2022.

The first hurdle was finding a suitable site for the garden within the very suburban area. The St Albans Baptist Church graciously donated a section of their car park and Citycare Property’s Structures and Landscape team donated their time, equipment, and volunteer people hours to remove the section of asphalt, and helped prepare the site for construction of the garden.

Growing the future of our communities

“It was a privilege to be present at the opening day and to celebrate the great mahi that our Citycare Property volunteers had a hand in,” says Citycare Property Community Activator, Hana Saemon-Beck. “It was also a great opportunity for us to listen to members of the community themselves on how community gardens benefited them.”

The onsite container has been decorated with a mural created by local artists, Storm and Cara Waiwai.

As well as providing spaces for growing food, the garden has been set up with areas for rest and relaxation. The garden has also been designed for accessibility, ensuring that those with limited mobility can be active participants as well.

“When people come together under a common cause, there are great relational and social benefits to be gained, which are important aspects of building community capacity,” says Don. “While the Neighbourhood Trust provides a lot of support for people in our community, we can only do so much. So, when people begin to support their neighbours through initiatives such the Mairehau Neighbourhood Garden, we see it as a transformational catalyst towards community capacity — and it’s only possible through the wider contribution of community leaders such as Citycare Property.”

Citycare Property also provided support and assistance to community garden projects in New Brighton, Avondale and Riccarton.