With life slowly beginning to normalise again, we're all itching to get out of our bubbles and back into the community. As much as you're loving reconnecting with your family, flatmates and workmates post-lockdown, there's something truly heart-warming about meeting new people in a positive space too, and what better place to do that than volunteering at your local community garden.
Community gardens, or urban farms, are green spaces in a community that are run to educate, give people the opportunity to grow their own vegetables in an often cramped urban environment and offer a way for community members to connect. Most offer open volunteer slots of a few hours once a week that everyone is welcome to come along to and help out with the weeding, harvesting, planting and general maintenance. We've got a list of some of the local Auckland community gardens you can pop along to and try out your green thumb at. Most of the gardens are planning to reopen at Level 2, but do make sure to check their socials before heading along.
Devonport Community Garden
Located in the heart of Devonport at Mt Cambria Reserve, the Devonport Community Garden is run entirely by volunteers so we're sure they'd really appreciate your help. Their garden is the home to quails, chickens and honey bees, plus they have a stone pizza oven so you could host your own pizza party there. Hop along on Sunday's from 2pm-4pm to volunteer in the gardens—the best part is they also hold an afternoon tea for solid community catch ups once you're done.
More of an urban farm, this sprawling community garden in the middle of Ponsonby and Herne Bay not only has your usually veggie patch but also cows and chickens to help them reduce their waste and remain sustainable without degrading the land. You can volunteer at Kelmarna Gardens throughout the week as a gardener, farmers market vendor, general handyman or as a farm education volunteer, there's a spot for everyone and every schedule.
Grafton Community Garden
This gorgeous gardening spot is nestled between apartment buildings in Grafton, and is a perfect spot for you CBD locals to get involved. The Grafton Community Garden grows a wide variety of fruits and veggies and even has an impressive banana palm in the summer. All organic, all good for you. They meet from 10am onwards every Sunday, so get up early, grab yourself a good breakfast at home and head along with your gloves to 50 Seaview Road to help out.
Mt Eden Community Garden
Tucked away behind the bowling club on Poronui St, the Mt Eden Community Garden is all about bringing the community together and producing fresh organic produce. They've got great connections with local restaurants and farmers market which help them with their epic garden and compost system. Join other volunteers on Sundays between 2pm-4pm and muck in together.
OMG - Organic Market Garden
A collab between a whole bunch of local businesses you can either help out at this garden or support them by signing up for a three-month subscription to their fresh produce. More than just a community garden, OMG is all about educating people and creating a regenerative food system for Auckland. They hold working bees most Sundays from 9am-1pm, and you can follow them on Instagram for the latest.
Sanctuary Mahi Whenua
This green space has been used as gardens since the pre-European times, and is located in the now-Unitec grounds. Sanctuary Mahi Whenua really is a sanctuary and is so popular there is even a waiting list to join. Once in, they have working bees which are usually held on the second Sunday of each month, which start at 10am and usually finish around midday, followed by a shared lunch. You'll really be joining a community here.
Ranui Community Garden
West Auckland, we haven't forgotten about you. The Ranui Community Garden lets you lease a small plot of land for your very own garden, so even if you're stuck in an apartment building you can grow your own produce. You can choose what fruits and veggies you plant, and learn from your fellow community gardeners about how to grow successfully and not kill everything. Don't worry if you're completely new, there's a coordinator there to help you get stuck in.
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Image credit: Agence Producteurs Locaux Damien Kühn, Kelmarna Community Garden, Arnaldo Aldana, Sanctuary Mahi Whenua