Making gardening tasty

Anna Hiatt picks winter greens in her Wanaka garden. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED/HIATT & CO
Anna Hiatt picks winter greens in her Wanaka garden. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED/HIATT & CO
A Wanaka gardener has set up a company to help people grow edible plants. Gillian Vine reports.

Growing up on a Canterbury farm, it never occurred to Anna Hiatt that not everyone learned to garden from childhood.

"I was really lucky and it took a while for the penny to drop that not everyone grew up with gardening," Anna (45) said.

Living in Christchurch, floral design became her career focus but she remained an enthusiastic gardener.

Life took a sharp turn after the 2011 earthquake when she moved to Wanaka in 2012 for a six-month break, then stayed on.

She saw the havoc the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked on the world as an opportunity to make a lifestyle and livelihood change, which sowed the seeds of Hiatt & Co.

Dudley and Stanley are the "& Co" in Hiatt & Co.
Dudley and Stanley are the "& Co" in Hiatt & Co.
Anna is the "Hiatt"; her dogs are the "& Co", taking any opportunity they can grab to taste test from the edible garden and be in photos.

Although she still did "a little bit" of floral work for weddings and special events, Anna turned her passion for plants into a company to help people create their own edible gardens.

At the same time, she continues her involvement in sport and has had management roles in the World Triathlon, Winter Games, Queenstown Marathon and Challenge Wanaka events.

"I love sport [but] I’m certainly not an athlete," she said.

The aim of Hiatt & Co is to introduce — or reunite — New Zealanders with the pride and joy of gathering homegrown produce from their own kitchen gardens.

Rather than saturating her clients with bucket-loads of information, Anna provides one-on-one edible garden consultations that offer tailored guidance, support and encouragement.

"I’m all about helping people to grow food.

"It’s amazing; it’s great," she said of the initial response.

She found that many people wanted to grow their own but having no gardening experience, were daunted by the prospect.

"Often people said they didn’t have time."

For Hiatt & Co, those factors meant each client needed to have a simple plan tailor-made to their needs, experience and available time.

Space was another issue for some, but Anna said it was amazing how much could be grown in half a wine barrel.

"Whether they are based in an apartment, renting, or living in their own homes, there’s always ways to use whatever space people have to grow edibles.

"I’m trying to identify the keys to getting them going," she said.

"The focus is on where people are at and what they can do."

Cyril the swan (above left) is the “face” of Hiatt & Co’s microgreens range.
Cyril the swan (above left) is the “face” of Hiatt & Co’s microgreens range.
She loves doing individual consultations, seeing them as a way to help instil confidence, give advice on basic tools, soil health and a realistic assessment of how much time things will take.

"And I want it to be fun," she said.

Because of Anna’s floral design background, part of Hiatt & Co’s approach is that any edible garden can be beautiful.

Traditionally, vegetable plots were at the back of a property, far from the kitchen and often without the sunshine needed to get the best crops. Anna wants to change that by having gardeners choose the best spots for their edibles without losing a garden’s good looks.

"I’m into making it pretty," she said.

"It’s busyness that’s getting to people," she said, adding that her aim was to change that enough to ensure they had space in their lives to grow at least a few of their own vegetables and herbs.

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