The Waiau community has used the 2016 earthquake as a reason to come together and grow. With support from Red Cross and local businesses, they have started a community garden where residents can help cultivate and gather fresh produce while spending time together.

Coordinator Jenny Holt started the garden with Natasha Duthie in an overgrown section in the centre of the township after struggling with the cost of vegetables.

“Vegetables were so expensive and there were a lot of people – including myself – that couldn’t afford to buy fresh veg all the time for the family,” Jenny says. “I just put the idea [of the garden] out there, just to gauge what reaction I would get, and it was really positive.”

New Zealand Red Cross helped the community secure donated seedlings, provided a helping hand during the initial planting and put on a sausage sizzle for volunteers working in the garden.

Thanks to the community’s hard work, the once vacant lot now cultivates tomatoes, pumpkins, spinach, rhubarb, courgettes, a variety of herbs, fruit trees and currant bushes.

There are also plans to expand the garden to include chickens and a pizza oven, so Waiau residents can enjoy community barbecues.

“It brings people together. It’s just a great community thing,” Jenny says.

Community gardens help people improve their nutrition, grow their skills and build connections in their neighbourhood. Want to use your gardening skills for good? Volunteer to help out in one of our community gardens around Aotearoa.

To learn more or get involved with volunteering initiatives like the community garden in Waiau and wider Canterbury, contact christchurch@redcross.org.nz or phone (03) 339 3750