Sunday, May 19, 2024

Demolition of loved and thriving community garden

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Volunteers clearing out the garden before the machinery moved in to demolish it and leave an empty, open space.

The Mangemangeroa Reserve Community Garden has been demolished by Auckland Council for no reason other than a Farming Trust was given permission to take the stockyards away.

You may have seen the tall bright orange sunflowers or the sweet pea flowers as you have been along Somerville Road.

The garden grew many vegetables – sweetcorn, kumara, dwarf, runner and snake beans, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, courgette, buttercup, onions, silver beet and celery to name just some. It also contained many herbs and beneficial flowers which were always covered with bees. All community gardens provide valuable food in the current economic environment. They help feed their communities while developing valuable skills and gardening knowledge.

Seeing the cattle yards were inactive and with verbal encouragement from two councillors at the Friends of Mangemangeroa planting day in early June, 2022, Margaret Kitchen put in a formal proposal for a community garden to the Howick Board mid-June, 2022. She received an acknowledgement of the email but nothing further. So she went ahead and started a pilot garden anyway. Council staff looked in when they were passing and didn’t disapprove. Other volunteers joined the journey contributing valuable gardening experience and advice. What was grown was distributed each Wednesday.

When the volunteers heard the stockyards were to be removed Margaret made a formal presentation to the Howick Local Board and received positive feedback. Then, 18 months after sending the initial email and a proposal, a reply was finally received stating that a landowner approval application could be submitted but it was unlikely to be successful.
Sadly, the garden has been demolished, the timber taken and the area levelled. It is disappointing the council did not support this local initiative which contributed to the community and has cost council nothing.

Margaret Kitchen and Monique Pot

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