The Riccarton stalwarts have even previously used the garden as a platform to raise money and plan a fundraiser concert for a young brain surgery patient.

“It’s a resource [the community] can come to whenever it’s open, with food and vegetables, and hopefully we’ll get a bit of fruit [this season] as well,” Nick said.

It makes sense then that the pair would be disappointed the property’s lease was coming to an end and the garden would make way for social housing for New Zealanders in need.

That was until the community rallied together, working with local businesses and Government to find a solution that worked for everyone.

Working with advocates Gamal Fouda – of the Waipuna Community Board – and their local MP Dr Megan Woods, the couple found a solution with Kāinga Ora that would ensure they could keep providing wholesome, healthy food to locals without jeopardising new homes for those in need.

Originally planned for 13 homes, Kāinga Ora agreed to delay the construction of one so it could remain a working garden for two more years, fenced off from the impending construction site and complete with a community pantry that has long been a fixture.

Adding to the spirit of the plan, several local businesses – many of whom already work in partnership with Kāinga Ora – wanted to get involved, donating time, labour and materials to get the new garden up and running.

Nick and Loretta, each in yellow high-vis, with some of the many who helped save the community garden.

Carters and Placemakers donated materials. Home Construction, who will build the 12 homes next door, donated time and labour. Greg’s Electrical, Instant Plumbing, SES Contracting, Harrison Bloy, Irrigation Warehouse, Taggarts, GE Construction, Telfers Hornby and Low Impact all did the same in their respective areas of expertise. Plants were donated by Oderings.

For Jess and Adrian of SES Contracting, that was supplying the soil which meant fresh fruit and veges could grow.

“It’s great to be involved in such a worthwhile community project and be part of the team,” Adrian said at a gathering on Thursday to celebrate the effort.

“It’s great to give back as a business in the local community as well.”

Loretta said she and Nick were “blown away” by the effort and thanked all in attendance “for everything you’ve done”.

At the event, Dr Woods spoke about the “tenacity” of Nick and Loretta while paying thanks to everyone involved.

“It may be a smaller plot than was here before but I think from this huge things are going to grow,” she said.

“Ultimately, this is going to be about the people of Riccarton, and how the people of Riccarton can use this as a place to come together and get really nutritious and good food.

“So thank you, so much, to everybody for what you’ve done.”

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Page updated: 8 December 2020