Free start-up vegetable gardens reconnect communities with nature

updated By Ani-Oriwia Adds

A free start-up vegetable garden initiative in Waitakere aims to increase the number of gardens and to reconnect communities with Papatuakuku. Hoani Waititi Marae including over 100 other families and community groups are signed up.

Hoani Waititi Marae and over 100 other families and community groups across Waitakere have received free start up vegetable gardens. The initiative aims to increase the number of gardens and to reconnect families with nature.

A teacher at Hoani Waititi, Tamatamarangi Clausen says that this project is all about teaching future generations how to get their hands into the earth to grow vegetables and fruit for their families, the Hoani Waititi community and for West Auckland.

The My Backyard Garden Project also held workshops for families to learn about growing and caring for a Maara Kai with a focus on the Māori calendar to show families how the times and dates for planting can be guided by cycles of the moon.

Whānau member of Hoani Waititi Rīria Morgan says “We met with Māori calendar expert Rereata Makiha who shared his expert knowledge with us. He also told us that today was the best day for growing and planting our seeds.”

Clausen says that it’s great learning for the kids and for their children's children. By teaching them how to nurture plants we're also teaching them how to care for people, how to grow food and how to look after their families.

Clausen says that the future plan for the marae is to become 100% self-sustainable and all lead by the vision of the students and youth of the community.

He says that this example could be used for other marae too. I know of marae outside of Auckland who could benefit from this because shops are far away and the prices are expensive. It would be a good framework for those marae.

Clausen adds that the wider goal is to become waste free, as well as eventually grow all food including meat, vegetables, and the works.