Owairaka community gardens - uprooted by Auckland City Council because of lack of funds ($700/year)

owairaka park.pdf

This article (see pdf above because I cant seem to paste it in here) appeared in the central edition of the Aucklander last week (4 March). It is about a community garden that was laid out to help soothe ethnic frictions in the local area, and which is now abandoned because the group can not come up with $500/year for a lease from Council plus a $2million indemnity insurance policy (another $200/year).

These community gardens are clearly identified as part of the Owairaka Park development by ACC (http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/council/projects/owairaka/Default.asp). According to an article in Te Waha Nui (http://www.tewahanui.info/wordpress2/?p=1706) in May 2009, the Owairaka Park community garden "will include areas where groups are able to grow their own crops and will also be
providing recreational classes for the community".

In that article Charlotte Haycock, from the Auckland City Council, says community gardens involve local people sharing in the creation, maintenance and rewards of gardening. “They provide food, recreation and therapeutic opportunities for a community while also promoting environmental awareness,” she says.

Yet the situation highlights the difficulties in sustaining community gardens in Auckland City under current ACC rules (see more here: http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/council/documents/gardenpolicy/intr....)

Although "Auckland City’s role in community gardens is seen more as an enabler and supporter of community garden initiatives, than aprovider or funding source", it is clearly using a lack of funding as a dis-enabler for this garden, despite the potential social benefits.

I am not part of this garden in any way and I don't know how ooooby-ites can help here but it seems like this is a geographic area with people that could really benefit from ooooby-philosophy (and a more flexible governing body - goodness knows what will happen when we get our 'super city') so I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions!

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Comment by Denise on August 4, 2010 at 11:46am
come to oooobyversity or the ooooby crew Mesepa! and join sandringham garnders - we are all local and may be able ot work together on this perhaps...
Comment by Mesepa on July 19, 2010 at 3:06pm
Hi everyone.....im amazed at the comments below.......im involved in the garden and have been on a roller coaster of emotions with it. I was born in the area so i have a soft spot for wanting to give back. I guess apart from the bureaucracy which is never ending, it is building confidence in the community again. They have seen and heard so many promises like community consultation with the garden...which never happened of course and countless delays to get something happening. There is so much red tape when you finally have the community voice what they want, that in the end it makes you feel.....what the friggin point.

I find it amusing that council would encourage you to apply for funding knowing what the situation is only to then decline your application. They then send you off to other funding sources which i might add all leads back to them only to decline you again.......hmmmmmmmm....go figure that one.

Ok enough moaning.......i would love to attend any garden meetings with other groups for support and ideas and find other alternatives to getting tools, seedlings, or anything for our community garden to start happening. Look forward to hearing from you all.

Malo soifua
Comment by Pete Russell on March 10, 2010 at 9:51pm
Love your work Ben. I agree whole heartedly.
Comment by Ben on March 10, 2010 at 9:17pm
Hi Y'all,

Crazy stuff. I grew a large crop in this very garden over the winter and into spring.

I completely circumvented the requirement for public liability insurance and an annual fee by planting Garlic, Broad beans, two varieties of peas, spring onions, various brassicas and salad greens. They all grew pretty well in spite of withering looks from the nasty council officers beamed from the council buildings at least 10km away. If any one ever asked me what I was up to I said I was "tending the plants". Lots of people wanted to know if I'd asked the council for permission. I asked them if you had to ask permission to grow plants on public land in what was obviously an untended garden!

The peas and broad beans went the best as they are "nitrogenous", garlic was ok, everything else was passable. Sadly the gardening department of the glorious council spitefully removed all the biomass after harvest, rendering my plans to slowly increase the organic matter in the soil useless.

Thinking about lifting some of the dead weeds from the nearby creek and doing a little in situ composting.

The key is in my opinion, not to succumb to the bureaucracy, but just to work under the radar a little. Don't be official. Plant the plants, look after them. If the council sends a bill, call the media. Charge them back for the services rendered, i.e beautification. No one in council likes a hard one. They'll go away.


Comment by Ariane Craig Smith on March 10, 2010 at 3:13pm
It sounds as though they need money upfront to solve the immediate situation and get growing again, and then the Ooooby stall might be the way for them to raise next year's rent/insurance. I can also contribute a few $ toward getting the garden back on track.
But boo to the council for being so narrow-minded. When beuraucracy becomes a hindrance to doing the right thing for a community, it should become redundant. The trouble with such institutions is that too often their organisational system is an excuse for the individuals who work within them to say "not my responsibility/problem."
Comment by James Samuel on March 9, 2010 at 10:40pm
Is this a consequence of accepting silo-thinking in our institutions?

The health and welfare benefits (mental, emotional and physical) must surely be far greater than the sqiddly little $700.

Perhaps the people in the community gardens department could be introduced to the police, welfare workers, hospital boards, mental health institutions, etc, and ask for a few dollars from each of them - the savings they could make might be huge.
Comment by Denise on March 9, 2010 at 2:35pm
Yes, let's. Esp as I have no connection to them whatsoever and may be taking things way out on a limb!
Comment by Pete Russell on March 9, 2010 at 1:40pm
Great. They could earn 60c per $1 sold. So yes they could certainly earn well beyond the cost of rent and insurance. In fact I would go so far as to say that depending on their growing techniques, they could provide a bit of extra spending cash for the contributors to the community gardens. Let's see how this all unfolds.
Comment by Denise on March 9, 2010 at 12:15pm
I've passed this link on to the author of the Aucklander article and asked her to pass it on to Will and Pradeep of the community gardens. I am also happy to contribute some $ but recognise that this will be an annual thing for them...so maybe we can encourage them to support the ooooby stall and sell some of their produce too? If I understand correctly, that can earn them 65c per $1 value of what they sell...I have no idea, of course if they would be into that. Just a thought.
Comment by Pete Russell on March 9, 2010 at 12:01pm
So what can we do to help? Could we start fund raiser between us to help pay the $700 or is it too late? I'll chip in $50.

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