New project . . . Lumsden Community Nursery founders Josie Blackshaw and Daniel Jones started growing plants in their backyard but are pleased to be moving to the new site on LumsdenÂ’s main street. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

What started as a family backyard project has grown into a community nursery.

The Lumsden Community Nursery in Lumsden’s main street will be officially opened on Saturday from 1pm to 3pm.

The nursery is a project of the Northern Southland Reforestation Trust which was started by Josie Blackshaw and Daniel Jones in 2019.

Ms Blackshaw said the family moved to Lumsden from Queenstown three and a-half years ago.

She grew up in the United Kingdom, but after she moved to New Zealand about 13 years ago she started spending time in the outdoors.

“You go to the bush here and it’s like like ‘wow’.

“It’s like something out of Jurassic Park.”

She had always loved plants, but there were more opportunities in New Zealand to grow them.

The family started collecting native plant seeds and growing them in pots in their backyard.

“We kind of outgrew the space very quickly so started thinking about a specific place.”

When other people showed an interest they started the trust and looked for a more permanent home for the nursery.

“It’s a really nice, relaxing, cruisey way of bringing people together to talk about whatever and put your hands in some dirt.”

Trust members already had permission to transplant some of the plants they had grown to the banks of the Lumsden Creek.

The trust had recently employed Lumsden resident Jeanna Rodgers as its part-time operations manager.

Funds had been sourced from Community Trust South, the Northern Community Board and the One Billion Trees Fund.

There were plans to develop the nursery site, including having picnic table seating and panels giving people information about the natural heritage of the area.

At the moment, a mixture of plants including lancewoods, flaxes, kowhai and sedges were grown for the riparian projects the group was involved in.

“The plans we have for this nursery are to grow 10,000 plants in the first year and 20,000 in the second and then just increasing from that.”

It was important to collect the seed locally as the plants in the area had evolved to suit the conditions where they grew.

“It also means we can try to help protect the kinds of unique species growing here as well.”

It was expected 30% of the plants would be sold to help pay costs and 70% would be given away to groups for planting in public areas.