Garden helps grow friendships as well as produce

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For eight years, the Mataura Community Garden has been a place of produce and fellowship for volunteers and customers during summer.

Mataura Community Garden organiser Barbara Cunningham said the garden, which began in 2009, was a “brainwave” of hers.

“It was basically because we felt there was a need in the town,” Mrs Cunningham said.

The group of six volunteers have planted 36 varieties of vegetables in the 0.4ha section, including potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin, radishes, rhubarb, marigolds, capsicum, eggplant, spring onions, tomatoes and celery.

The garden also has a 50m tunnel house, which houses rows of lettuce and cucumber.

A great variety of berries, including raspberries, cherries, blueberries, gooseberries and strawberries are grown in the garden.

Moving dirt . . . Mataura Community Garden volunteers John Cunningham (left) and Matthew Lucassen bury a water pipe.
Moving dirt . . . Mataura Community Garden volunteers John Cunningham (left) and Matthew Lucassen bury a water pipe.

The community garden ran along similar lines to the former market garden in Mataura, Mrs Cunningham said.

The fellowship of the community garden was also important to the group of volunteers.

“We found it’s very important, because all these people would never get together except for in the garden,” she said.

Earlier this year, the Mataura Community Garden expanded after a section neighbouring the garden was bought.

A house that occupied the section was demolished and the section is now being used as a car park for customers.

Handy work . . . Mataura Community Garden volunteer's Fraser McFadzien and Barry McCone (12) install a berry shelter for the season. PHOTOS: AMANDA CARRINGTON
Handy work . . . Mataura Community Garden volunteer’s Fraser McFadzien and Barry McCone (12) install a berry shelter for the season. PHOTOS: AMANDA CARRINGTON

The purchase of the new section allowed customers to park on the grounds, which was safer than parking on the side of the road.

Volunteer Doug King has been working at the community garden for several years.

Mr King said there was no particular tasks they were assigned to. Anything that needed doing was done by anyone.

“We don’t have any business here. If we see anything that needs to be done we go and do it,” Mr King said.

There was always some weeds to hoe, he said.

Volunteer Matthew Lucassen said the garden had a good team of workers.

Straight row . . . Cauliflower will be available at the Mataura Community Garden this season.
Straight row . . . Cauliflower will be available at the Mataura Community Garden this season.

“Everyone has their input.”

“You have to appreciate them because volunteers are volunteers.

“We’re not army volunteers,” Mr Lucassen said.

This year, a berry shelter had been installed to cover the berries and protect them from birds. One hundred metres of bird netting would be used to cover the berries.

Mrs Cunningham said volunteers were needed to help in the garden on a Saturday morning.

To volunteer, contact Mrs Cunningham or Mr Lucassen.