Pick of the crop at garden market

For the first time, Oamaru's Waitaki Community Gardens hosts an organic vege market yesterday....
For the first time, Oamaru's Waitaki Community Gardens hosts an organic vege market yesterday. Volunteers Georgina Buckley (left), Katie Albutt, and site and volunteer co-ordinator Ra McRostie show some of the seasonal produce a team of up to 30 volunteers has helped to grow. PHOTO: HAMISH MACLEAN
As summer hits, an organic vege market — with the gardens’ own fresh picked produce — has sprung up at the Waitaki Community Gardens.

And as the new initiative grows funds for the community gardens’ upkeep — and the day’s leftover vegetables are donated within the community — site and volunteer co-ordinator Ra McRostie said she wanted to remind the Oamaru community that for those wanting to eat some of the food produced at the Chelmer St site "there should be an exchange".

"Obviously, this is a community garden, if someone’s hungry we’re going to give them some food. And we encourage people if they want beautiful food to come and volunteer. Our first priority for our food is to go to the volunteers.

"All of this work is done from the goodness of people’s hearts."

Volunteers caught two people stealing tomatoes last year, and the gardens’ small white-flesh peach tree, which was set to have its first bumper crop, was stripped of its fruit a week before the fruit had ripened.

But despite "the little bit of thievery", Ms McRostie was positive about the gardens’ new initiative.

Yesterday lettuce, kale, broccoli, artichoke, Easter egg and flame candle radishes, spring onions, green beans, cabbages, sweet peas, lavender, rhubarb, silver beet, and tea herbs were picked and sold at the first of a twice weekly organic market over the summer.

"There’s all sorts. There’s lots of diverse things that will be coming through over the season. This is just today, two weeks from now we’ll have heaps of peas, we’ll have different beans, we’ll have zucchinis, we’ll have more herbs, we’ll probably have onions, the garlic will come soon, cauliflower — we’ll have tons of stuff. It’s just going to keep evolving. That’s the thing. This is totally seasonal. What’s ready in the garden on the day is what will be for sale. It’s just fresh and of that moment."

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