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A patch of unused ground at Bathgate Park School is to be transformed into a large community garden for the people of South Dunedin.
The community garden project was launched this week by the Rotary Club of South Dunedin at a tree-planting ceremony on the site attended by pupils and staff of the school, along with council, community and runanga representatives.
The first tree to be planted in the garden was a heritage apple tree provided by project supporter Jason Ross, of Sutherland Nursery.
At the launch, Dunedin City Councillor Jinty MacTavish expressed delight at the development of the garden, describing it as a valuable community project. Dunedin South Labour MP Clare Curran said being involved in the project was exciting.
''It would be great to have community gardens throughout the city, where people can go and participate - especially if they don't have a garden in their own backyard,'' Ms Curran said.
''A community garden is a symbol of what can happen when different groups work together.''
Rotary Club of Dunedin South president Vincent George said the garden was an ideal opportunity for the club to be involved in the community.
''We really hope that the people of South Dunedin will make use of it.''
Bathgate Park School Community Garden project leader Graeme Copson said the aim of creating the garden was to provide ''a rich learning resource for the children of the school and a vibrant focal point for the local community''.
''Members of the community will be able to come and lend a hand in the garden, learn about different styles of garden or relax in the space,'' he said.
Work on the multiphase project will start over the Christmas period with about 0.2ha (about half an acre) to be developed into several zones, including a decorative no-dig garden, a large growing bed, a composting area, raised growing beds, a BioDome greenhouse and a food forest. Virtually everything in the garden will be edible.
''We are going to make a real feature of composting, because it is so vital to the garden - and we will be able to hold workshops on how to create compost as well,'' Mr Copson said.
Shelter belts, trees and a food forest would help turn the community garden into a real oasis over the next two or three years as the space was built up in stages, he said.
Eventually, there would be opportunities for people to harvest vegetables and fruit, as well as build up their skills, he said.
The Dunedin City Council had been supportive of the community initiative and there had been ''a flood of interest'' from the community.
''We have had fantastic support throughout the development of this project - so now we can't wait to get under way.''