Vacant land at St Mary’s Church in the Parish of Whitby is now feeding the hungry and connecting the community, thanks to the hard work of parishioners and generous donations from local companies. The Whitby Community Garden at St Mary’s was officially opened on the 20th of October by Councillor Anita Baker of the Porirua City Council, and blessed by the Vicar, Rev Chris Darnell.
The garden is an opportunity for the parish to offer a space for community members to come together to learn about gardening, says parishioner, Claire Loubser, but also to connect with each other over a cuppa and a chat. “The idea originated from Graham Edridge who was familiar with a very successful community garden in Masterton, whilst living in the Wairarapa,” Claire says. “Rev Chris Darnell and the St Mary’s Vestry gave their blessings by allowing the garden to be built on the vacant land behind the church.”
Gardening sessions operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10:00am to noon, with our St Mary’s whānau providing their lounge area for beverage making and socialising. “It’s been encouraging to see how people from the community have been coming along to these sessions,” Claire tells us. “St Mary’s folk are always present during these sessions to provide hospitality and a welcoming face.”
And connecting with the community is not the only benefit. Produce grown is available not only to the people who are tending the garden, but anyone that would like fresh fruit and vegetables. Produce grown from private gardens can also be placed in the “greenhouse pantry” instead of wasting food. Any excess not used is being donated to Porirua foodbanks.
Alongside the hard work of parishioners, Claire says that the generosity of local businesses has been a large part of the project’s success. The local supermarket, garden centre, real estate agent and outdoor furniture supplier have all been involved in helping the project get started. “We have been truly blessed from the outset of this project and give thanks to God who has answered many prayers along the way,” Claire tells us.
You can visit the community garden on Facebook by clicking here.
If you are interested in finding out how you can be involved with this community project or how you could start something similar in your parish, please contact Graham Edridge at firstname.lastname@example.org or 04 234 8182; Claire Loubser at email@example.com or 027 497 4455.