Bowing out of community gardens role

Stephen Newnham (right) takes over from Annie Beattie as Waitaki Community Gardens co-ordinator....
Stephen Newnham (right) takes over from Annie Beattie as Waitaki Community Gardens co-ordinator. Photo by Andrew Ashton.
After four years helping create a community garden that has inspired both young and old gardeners, Annie Beattie this week passed on the job of Waitaki Community Gardens co-ordinator - and her prized teapot - to a new co-ordinator.

Mrs Beattie officially ended her role on Monday, as former Auckland teacher Stephen Newnham took over.

Mrs Beattie said during her four years as co-ordinator, she had seen ''lots of little stories'' of how people had been ''inspired'' by the gardens to really change their attitude.

She said the community gardens, which hold regular free workshops to educate people on how to be self-sufficient and also provided a place for community work, had three aims: ''to teach respect for self, others and the environment''.

''In the last four years I have really seen a change in people and attitudes. It's not just about gardening, it's about finding them something to do that makes them want to come back.''

Mr Newnham said the community gardens had already established an important link with the wider community, but he hoped that over the next five years the community interaction could be taken to the next level.

''In my view, it's the community's responsibility to educate itself. The community spirit in this area is something that really inspired me to be here.''

He said there would be long-term plans to create a ''food forest'' and a new education centre, with the ultimate goal of turning the community gardens into a ''centre of sustainable development''.

Mrs Beattie said she was thrilled to see Mr Newnham's enthusiasm for a facility that had a ''vital'' role to play within the community, and added that she would continue to be involved on a volunteer basis.

The gardens, and her 55-year-old teapot, which she brought to the gardens four years ago to go along with the gardens' sustainable philosophy, were both in good hands, she said.


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