Auckland, New Zealand Community Gardens Policy
Status: Adopted on 7/24/02
Community gardens involve residents in sharing in the creation, maintenance and rewards of gardening. They provide food, recreation and therapeutic opportunities for a community. They can also promote environmental awareness and provide community education.
Where they exist, community gardens form an important part of a city’s public open space network.
For those who do not have the private space or the time, public spaces such as parks and reserves serve as places to recreate, look at pleasing vistas, learn about plants and to re-connect with the environment. Many of Auckland’s public spaces were also once productive orchards and gardens. For example, pre-European Maori cultivated the slopes of Auckland’s volcanic cones and the Auckland Domain provided fresh vegetables to early European settlers.
Many cities in the developing world still source much of their food from within their urban boundaries. Meanwhile cities in the developed world – in North America, Europe and Australia for example – are setting aside areas of public space for groups of like-minded residents to create gardens and share the maintenance and rewards. These community gardens were initially established 25 to 30 years ago and have increased in popularity as cities have intensified and private open space has reduced. Today, there are approximately 10,000 community gardens in the United States cities alone. At least 15 such community gardens are known to exist in New Zealand.
Why establish community gardens?
Flowers grow in flower gardens
Vegetables grow in vegetable gardens
And people grow in community gardens
Overseas experience shows there are many reasons that members of a community come together and create a garden. Some reasons can be loosely described as ecological, others as social or community development.
In cities overseas, community gardens are valued as open spaces and places for socializing and relaxing. Public amenities such as benches, children’s play areas, and art have been added to many gardens to increase their value as community centres. The activities that take place in community gardens — sharing gardening tips, cooperating through work parties, arranging social events for gardeners and neighbours, and enjoying the fruits of the land — bring people from all walks of life and all ages together, building stronger, more integrated communities.
Economic opportunity and security are often intertwined with community development in community gardening. In this context, security means food security. Community gardening allows participants to raise their own food to improve their nutrition, and benefit their health.
They also sometimes provide opportunities for local enterprise, for example for training in work skills and small-scale horticultural businesses such as the sale of plants.
Community gardens are also educational resources within a community, promoting environmental awareness and stewardship and providing opportunities for recycling organic waste and for solid waste and water re-use. Finally, they might also contribute to the diversity of open space use.
What kind of community gardens?
Many gardens start off as a community resource (allotment gardens) and demonstration site to show the public more about the concept of community gardening and the techniques they use.
Fully-fledged working gardens typically require more space and offer a variety of activities. They also require more facilities to attract the general public and school and tertiary groups, and could include on-site shops and ongoing contracts to supply social agencies or small local businesses at cost. The ability to grow sufficient quantities of fruit, vegetables and other produce is essential to the economic viability of such enterprises.
Different controls are required depending on the scale of community gardening undertaken.
The kind of community gardens deemed appropriate for establishment in Auckland City’s public open spaces, more closely resemble the former description.
Community garden is therefore defined as:
a small scale low- investment neighbourhood communal gardening venture, growing vegetables, fruit and/or flowers. It uses vacant or unspecified open space – either in the public domain, or owned by another organisation or business (for example by a church or through a public housing body). Community gardens may have an explicit gardening philosophy such as organic growing, permaculture or biodynamic gardening, or they may allow participants with individual plots to manage them as they see fit. They may also establish nurseries to propagate and raise seedlings for their gardeners.
Auckland City’s role in community gardens
Auckland City’s role in community gardens is seen more as an enabler and supporter of community garden initiatives, than a provider or funding source.
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