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
"How simple can you get to make people happy?"Author
Diana Noonan found the answer to that question in her vegetable
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
"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
"[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