Students’ hard work transforms lawn into community garden

Te Mahinga Kai— The Student Garden has been a labour of love for members of the on-campus group Students for Environmental Action during the past eight months.

Student Garden co-ordinator Danielle Lomas said the transformation of the patch of ground, at the corner of Dundas and Forth Sts, had involved many hours of volunteer effort.

The organic garden operated on a community garden principle, with working bees held on Sunday afternoons and volunteers able to take home a share of the produce, Ms Lomas said.

"We are really pleased with how well our plants are growing in our first year — they are leaping out of the ground," she said.

Making their own compost and applying a trailer-load of horse manure as fertiliser had definitely given the plants a boost, she said.

Students for Environmental Action co-president Charlotte Brewer said the garden project had been made possible through grants from the University of Otago’s Sustainability Office and the Otago University Students’ Association, as well as by support from Studholme College, which owned the land.

"It has become a productive garden, with lots of lovely flowers, so it’s a nice achievement for our group," Ms Brewer said.

She praised Ms Lomas for her effort and knowledgeable leadership of the garden, which had contributed greatly to its success.

Ms Lomas said the group had been able to raise a lot of plants from seed and cuttings, and had compost bins and worm farms operating as well — so could support the students living nearby to compost their food waste.

"Our overall aim is to support people to learn organic gardening techniques, to show what can be achieved in a garden space, and to spread the joy of having a garden to sit in."

There will be a public open day and plant sale at Te Mahinga Kai — The Student Garden tomorrow, February 26, from 10am to 2pm.

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