Karamea Community Garden is Coming!

Liz K
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The collective wish for a community garden in Karamea is becoming a reality this weekend with an inaugural working bee adjacent to the Te Maia Hōkioi sculpture on Waverley Street open to all happening on Saturday 4th from 10am-12pm.

The idea for a community garden has long been kicked around by locals, many of whom tend abundant home gardens of their own, and hold a wealth of green thumbed wisdom for our unique microclimate.  However, the reality for a long time was a lack of capacity for doing more outside of the home garden - who has the time!?  Now, with a rising population showing no signs of slowing down, and a mix of new residents moving to the Coast to live the good life, we have a strong group of individuals willing to make the idea work.  Recent changes in management at school have led to a greater interest in learning outside of the classroom, and integrating with the wider community, so the great news is that the school is on board too.  The conditions are right for the idea to sprout.

In August 2020 Karamea Community Garden Club (KCGC) formed with the intention of developing a learning space for everyone in the community to enjoy.  The idea paints a picture of a shared garden with a unifying plan that everyone can contribute to.  Those with expertise can teach new gardeners, students at school can use the space as an outdoor classroom for many different subjects, and we can share our knowledge and the harvest for a healthier and better connected community.

The partnership between school and community was formalised in September 2020 with Karamea Community Inc signing a memorandum of understanding on behalf of the community.  Since then the KCGC team have been cutting through the red tape to successfully secure a licence to occupy some of the land (spot the pegs) in between the Fire Station and the Church on Waverley Street.

Following an open consultation for ideas, a group of 13 attended the permaculture design workshop for the Garden held, despite the bucketing rain, as part of Winter School this June, and came up with a list of elements and potential placings based on permaculture principles.  In addition to the usual raised beds, the vision incorporates a rongoa Māori area; exemplar food forest guilds; compost; worm farm, tunnel house; potting shed; bee playground; local art; sharing pantry; learning hub and firepit.  KEEP are planning to plant heritage fruit trees in between the Te Maia Hōkioi sculpture and the community garden site. In addition to onsite compost, the soil will be fed by the school’s new composting system which students are managing.  It is a bold plan that sows hope and abundance into the future of life in Karamea.

Recently KCGC looked at the feasibility of relocating the old school building (KAS art room) to the site to function as an indoor learning space / kitchen / resource room / seed bank / water collection, however unfortunately this proved to be impossible with the given timeframe and current resources.  The group are now considering other options for having water on site which could look like another structure or tapping into the new Ministry of Education-owned pipe. 

Until then there are many preparations to be getting on with to get the site ready for growing food and medicine, the first of which is planting a harakeke windbreak along the northern border at a public working bee on Saturday 4th December, from 10am-12pm.

Next steps include sourcing and erecting weka-proof fencing, and engaging with students and community members on marking out the design.  We’d love to hear from anyone who is in a position to donate items on our wish list:

  • Weka proof fencing and fence posts - next priority
  • Shed / building materials
  • Ongoing relationships with farmers for old silage / good muck
  • Non-treated timber for building compost and raised garden beds
  • Useful tools and garden implements
  • Interested community members of all gardening abilities
  • …. We’re not quite ready for plants / seeds / earth yet, but open to future offers

The benefits of community gardens are well documented.  What we’re building is not just a place for learning and taking cuttings, but an important tool for social inclusion, intergenerational sharing and a source of healthy nutritious kai, right in the heart of Karamea.

To make a donation or for further info please contact karameacommunity@gmail.com