Don't Miss: The Kelmarna Organic Community Gardens Autumn Festival

The Kelmarna Gardens is hosting a festival to raise money

The Kelmarna Organic Community Gardens. Picture / Guy Coombes.

It’s a city fringe sanctuary, a therapeutic place where anyone is welcome to tend the plants, hand-pick and buy a salad, or simply meander, taking in its natural beauty. Yet standing on the roadside, you’d almost never know it was there.

The Kelmarna Gardens, a four-and-a-half acre publically-owned property bordering Cox’s Bay Park, is hosting the Kelmarna Organic Community Gardens Autumn Festival on Sunday.

The stunning urban space — currently flourishing with vegetables and herbs, plus fruit trees, bee hives, a glasshouse, and even a pony, hens and sometimes grazing livestock — is used by the community trust that runs it to demonstrate sustainability and organic gardening practices.

For years it was operated as a mental health service, but now, without previous managers Framework Services on board, the gardens are in “dire need” of funding, explains psychotherapist and fundraiser Suzy Timpson.

“A lot of people would feel lost if they couldn’t come here.”

Garden plot holders Orphans Kitchen and Little Bird will join local foodies such as Organic Mechanic and Bread & Butter in putting on a barbecue and running food stalls, with plenty of space to stretch out picnic-style on coffee sacks. Festival-goers will also get a taste of the gardens’ regular workshops, and there’ll be raffles, a kidzone and music.

All proceeds will go to the gardens. The hope is to attract long term donors to reach the $200,000 needed to sustain and develop, with an eye to establishing a new eco-building, library and cafe.

“Gardening and nature is incredibly healing, and the fact that it’s communal makes a big difference to people who are often isolated,” says garden manager Adrian Roche. “We’ll often pick the produce, and eat lunch together as a family.”

• The Kelmarna Organic Community Gardens Autumn Festival, Kelmarna Gardens, 12 Hukanui Crescent, Herne Bay, Sunday, 11am-4pm.

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New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

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