Vegetable garden starts to take shape at Tāmaki

24 August 2011

cl-tamaki-garden (2)
Students, staff and children pitch in to help move the topsoil

Some 25 students and staff gathered at Tāmaki Campus on a crisp August morning to lay the first foundations of what will become the Tāmaki Innovation Garden – an organic vegetable garden available to all students and staff.

The group met on a Saturday morning to construct four raised beds and fill them with 16m3 of topsoil, in preparation for the first Spring planting on Friday 2 September.

For Dr Jacqueline Beggs, Director of the Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity and a key figure in making the project a reality, the garden represents a number of opportunities for both staff and students.

“There was a really good mix of people helping with staff members and undergraduate and postgraduate students. It’s a good sign that these people really do take an interest in sustainable practices like a community garden.

“The space for this is ideal because it’s a vacant space that is rarely used at Tāmaki and we have a chance to create a welcoming environment for the campus community to gather, with the vegetable garden starting to take shape and fruit trees and native plants still to come.”

The garden itself will be organic with no pesticides or synthetic fertilizer to be used and plans for a water tank to be constructed nearby, to collect rainwater for use on the garden.

The produce will be available to all staff and students with people being encouraged to contribute by helping with weeding or planting replacement seedlings.

There is also academic merit to the garden with Jacqueline looking to bring students out to the garden to identify species of insects, adding a more practical element to her lectures. The School of Population Health academics also have their eye on the garden for teaching purposes.

PhD student Christine Sheppard will also plant experimental plots behind the garden, investigating the effect of climate change on the growth of a weed that is unique to northern parts of the country.

With research and practical classes a consideration, it is perhaps an affinity with gardening that excites Jacqueline.

“I love gardening and what better counterpoint to the work that academics do than to come out to a vegetable garden and get your hands dirty.”

The first Spring planting takes place at 12.30pm on Friday 2 September. All are welcome to bring something to plant.