Picton Community Garden Plan Finally Takes Root

Envirohub CEO Ailie Suzuki, left, with Wendy Sullivan, Picton Community Garden Project Manager, at Picton's Huia Street Preserve.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF/Marlborough Express

Envirohub CEO Ailie Suzuki, left, with Wendy Sullivan, Picton Community Garden Project Manager, at Picton’s Huia Street Preserve.

“I’m thrilled that the project is finally moving forward and I can’t wait to see the first groundbreaking,” says Linda Thompsen.

Thompsen first suggested a community garden for Picton in 2018, and it looks set to finally take hold.

Despite the four-year wait, the Picton Smart and Connected member says she “never gave up hope”.

Last week, Marlborough District Council’s Assets and Services Committee supported the creation of the community garden. The proposal was submitted to the full council for approval later this month.

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Marlborough District Council first approved funding for the gardens in 2018, following a submission to its annual plan. At this stage the gardens were planned for the Picton’s Beach Road Reserve.

However, the council’s parks and open spaces manager, Jane Tito, said this week that “due to unforeseen circumstances” the project did not come to fruition and that “funding and the provision of further aid were not requested”.

Tito said there have been several discussions over the years about creating a community garden in Picton, but finding suitable public land has always been “one of the main challenges.”

Picton-based charitable trust Envirohub Marlborough then came together to regenerate the idea in late 2021, leading to a meeting with council, where the nearby Huia Street reserve was suggested as site.

Resident horse Bronte will remain on site at the Huia Street Preserve, located between Huia and Ranui streets in Picton.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF/Marlborough Express

Resident horse Bronte will remain on site at the Huia Street Preserve, located between Huia and Ranui streets in Picton.

Tito said the group, after considering both options, decided on the site on Huia Street, between Huia and Ranui streets.

The proposal was part of the management plan the council had for the wider Victoria Estate reserves, Tito said.

On Thursday last week, the council’s Assets and Services Committee backed the creation of the garden at the new location, which would be overseen by Envirohub Marlborough under a formal lease.

The council has set aside $15,500 to get the project started, with the money earmarked for fencing, signage, water supply and access assistance.

Community Garden Project Manager Wendy Sullivan said the environmental and social benefits of community gardens are “well proven”.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer the community the opportunity to grow healthy food, skills and social connections in an ecologically sustainable garden,” she said.

And Huia Reserve resident Bronte the horse would even stay put and “no doubt benefit from some of the proceeds,” Sullivan said.

Marlborough Sounds ward councilor Nadine Taylor says the garden is in a great location, with sunshine all day.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Marlborough Sounds ward councilor Nadine Taylor says the garden is in a great location, with sunshine all day.

Deputy Mayor Nadine Taylor said it was great to see the proposal finally come to fruition.

The reserve was a “great place” for gardens, as it enjoyed all-day sun and was located right next to the “Marina to Marina” walkway, Taylor said.

The size of the land also meant the gardens had room to grow over time, she said.

“Community gardens can offer benefits beyond access to fresh fruits and vegetables. They can be places where people learn more about soil health and gardening, useful skills and knowledge can be shared, and people can come together and feel more connected to their community,” Taylor said.

If all goes as planned, the gardens would contain both rental plots and community plots containing fruit and nut trees that would help provide food for community members in need, as well as the Picton Food Bank and at the Waikawa Marae.

Community gardens, like this one in Invercargill, have “well proven” environmental and social benefits.

Robyn Edie

Community gardens, like this one in Invercargill, have “well proven” environmental and social benefits.

The idea received support from surrounding neighbours, the local Te Ātiawa Runanga and local organizations such as Conservation Kids NZ.

The community garden would also provide space for educational programs on sustainable living and aspects of self-sufficiency, according to the Envirohub Marlborough team.

Envirohub Marlborough would soon seek feedback on the strategic plan through a community meeting.

It comes as another community garden in Marlborough recently moved into a new home behind Havelock Medical Center just over two months ago.

The site was assigned by the Havelock Community Association and volunteers were already enjoying being able to grow healthy produce for the benefit of community members, according to a March 3 Havelock School newsletter.

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