New shoots

Programme manager Annika Korsten (left) plants cabbages at Kowhai Grove with Liv Bambery (18), of Waikouaiti, and Holly Kenny (16), of Dunedin. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Programme manager Annika Korsten (left) plants cabbages at Kowhai Grove with Liv Bambery (18), of Waikouaiti, and Holly Kenny (16), of Dunedin. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Liv Bambery is planting cabbages with Annika Korsten, neatly spaced and cosseted in a layer of mulch: the cabbages that is.

She's on the FarmHand course but not really looking for farm work. Nevertheless, she's loving it. She signed up on the suggestion of a support worker: ''And for that, I thank her,'' she says with genuine feeling.

''It's a great experience coming out to the Kowhai Grove, it's a beautiful place. There's no place like it. It is so gorgeous.''

But Liv's sights are set on the salon. Her hair today is a particularly fetching pinot noir. It has been several different colours previously and she cuts her dad's hair.

The benefits of the course seem to be fairly evenly distributed between personal development and community engagement on one hand, and the practical business of raising a crop, for Liv.

She nominates ''the friends you meet and make,'' as a highlight, alongside the newly acquired skills of plant raising.

''It helps to have a wee garden at home,'' she says ''because then you are not going out to the supermarkets ... to buy fruit and veges and other stuff, when you can be growing all that at home.''

All the students build a planter box for home, as part of the course. Sacking or carpet on the bottom to keep the weeds in check then layers of wood chips, compost and soil.

''In my garden I have rocket, lettuce, radish and spring onions,'' says Liv.

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