Neighbours get together over potatoes

Current potato growing trophy-holder Dick Jones, with Shirley Popplewell who is again organising...
Current potato growing trophy-holder Dick Jones, with Shirley Popplewell who is again organising the annual neighbourhood competition. Photo: Newsline
For Christchurch woman Shirley Poppelwell, a potato growing competition is the way to bring her neighbourhood together.

Shirley has organised one of the more unusual 'Summer with your Neighbours' activities this summer - a judging of the annual potato growing competition.  

The idea first started about a decade ago and, since then, residents of her Russley cul-de-sac have made it their summertime meeting occasion.

"We all have the same size buckets that we grow them in and whoever wins has to buy the potatoes for the following year," said the 77-year-old retired accountant.

"The winner gets their house number engraved on the trophy - a potato masher mounted on a block of rimu.

"We usually get someone not associated with the competition to do the judging. Rest assured we’re all checking."

The judging is done by weight and no particular variety that is grown, Shirley said.

She has won the competition once before but the current trophy holder is Dick Jones.

Meanwhile in Linwood, it is not potatoes bringing people together but heritage roses.

The Beverley Park Heritage Rose Garden volunteers will get together in December to prune the rose bushes and afterwards set up trestle tables in the park where neighbours gather for a shared lunch.

Organiser Henrietta Hall said the volunteers and local community have been gathering in the rose garden to share food since it was first planted in 2000.

“It’s really lovely. There are lots of people bordering the park and it brings the community together – it’s such a beautiful space.”

Neighbourhood get-togethers have also been organised for little folk.

Richmond locals under the age of five are invited to a Teddy Bears Picnic where they eat homemade teddy bear biscuits and honey sandwiches and are entertained by the Natural Magic Pirates.

Neighbourhood Week was the brainchild of the Shirley-Papanui Community Board back in 1998.

It was extended for the entire summer in 2018 and is now known as ‘Summer with your Neighbours.’

Anyone can apply to their community board for a subsidy to help host a local gathering. Applications for this summer closed last month and a total of 243 events were approved across the seven board areas.

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