2 Oct 2017

Christchurch urban garden provides purpose, connection

From Nine To Noon, 11:32 am on 2 October 2017
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Photo: Supplied / Cultivate Christchurch

An urban garden in central Christchurch has become a 'safe place' for the city's at-risk youth and homeless people.

Youth worker Fiona Heargraves and ecologist Bailey Perryman are the pair behind Cultivate Christchurch, which has three farms around the city.

Fiona grew up on a farm and decided at 16 she would start a farm school, while Bailey "at the risk of sounding cheesy" feels like his whole life has been leading to this project.

Conversations get deep more quickly in the garden than in a room with four walls, Fiona says.

"We're all on the same level. You get your hands into the ground … Every day we're seeing magic glimmers of change.'

The Cultivate Christchurch farms use the small-scale intensive market gardening set-up popularised by Jean-Martin Fortier and Curtis Stone.

Mostly they produce leafy salad greens and baby root crops which they sell directly to chefs in the CBD.

They also collect food waste from restaurants for compost and, although it wasn't originally part of the plan, hope to soon take on all of the organic waste produced in the city centre.

To do that, they'll need to upgrade their good old-fashioned pallet bay composting system with crowdfunding, Bailey says.

"We can divert two tonne of waste per week using an electric bike and a trailer."

The Cultivate Compost campaign launches on 12 October.