Food for thought about gardening

Author and gardening enthusiast Diana Noonan in her Papatowai road-side garden plot, which offers free food and inspiration to anyone who wants to take it. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Author and gardening enthusiast Diana Noonan in her Papatowai road-side garden plot, which offers free food and inspiration to anyone who wants to take it. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
"How simple can you get to make people happy?"Author Diana Noonan found the answer to that question in her vegetable garden.

After buying a section in Papatowai in August last year and fencing it for her donkeys, she found there was a small plot of spare land near the road.

A passionate gardner, and keen to encourage others to take the hobby up themselves, Ms Noonan planted a variety of vegetables which she leaves for others to harvest without payment.

"I like the concept of free food . . . because people always expect something for something. And it may encourage people into gardening," she said.

Ms Noonan started planting under plastic in October.

Now crops of courgettes, radishes, mibuna - a spinach-like Japanese vegetable - lettuce, silverbeet, parsley and potatoes are ripe for the picking.

The garden had brought people happiness for all sorts of reasons, she said.

Some thought it was pretty, with cyclists especially appreciative about being able to take something that was free.

"[A] concern was that people would feel they needed to leave something. It's actually quite foreign to us to take something for free."

So far, only one group of people had knocked on her door to ask if the vegetables really were free.

The garden, which she had created between the rocks and weeds, had also brought her pleasure, Ms Noonan said.

"For me the thing was not to worry too much. There is only a few hours' work here. I really want people to get the concept: you don't have to do this major thing - gardening is easy."

rachel.taylor@odt.co.nz