» ArticlesGrow Together


This is the new page for news…for archived news please see this link.

If you have news to share, please email the website coordinator at this link.  Thank you!

Categories: News


There is a wealth of information about gardening on the internet.  This page includes some recommended websites.  (If you would like to make a suggestion for a website that you have found helpful, please email using the Contact form.)

The website of the Soil and Health Association and Organic NZ magazine, this site has a free online book about basic organic gardening  as well as information about other aspects of organic growing and health.



This helpful site has information about gardening and forum where you can meet other gardeners and share tips and recipes.



This is the website for NZ Gardener magazine.  You can sign up to a helpful online newsletter called “Get Growing”.



This website was recommended by a visitor as a good source of information about gardening in N:

Categories: Websites

Gardening in Early Childhood Centres

The curriculum for the early childhood education in New Zealand takes a wholistic approach to the care and education  of babies and young children.  It encompasses four principles Empowerment or Whakamana; Holistic Development or Kotahitanga; Family and Community or Whānau Tangata and Relationships or Ngā Hononga.

Many early childhood centres already incorporate some gardening activities into their programme, recognising the opportunities it offers children to develop their fine and gross motor coordination, work cooperatively and learn to appreciate healthy food – to name just a few benefits.

If you are interested in incorporating gardening into the programme offered at your centre, but have little gardening experience yourself you may wish to read the page “Education and Training” which lists a lot of organisations that offer free or low cost ways to learn about organic growing. You may also want to read the “Health and Safety” page.

There may also be parents or grandparents of children at your centre who are experienced gardeners who would be happy to give you some advice.  Some parents may have particular knowledge of how to grow culturally important foods such as kumara or taro.

Organisations that support gardening in Early Childhood Centres:

Fruit Trees for Auckland

This group of volunteers is raising money so that they can supply fruit trees to Auckland schools and early childhood centres that request a tree as well as plant fruit trees on council owned land such as gass verges and teach people how to look after them.  If you would like a fruit tree for your early childhood centre (or a park adjacent to your centre) you can sign up at this link http://www.fruittrees.org.nz/signup-school/  or for one on the verge outside your  centre (or home) you can  register your interest at this link http://www.fruittrees.org.nz/signup/  For more information see http://www.fruittrees.org.nz/

Below are some suggestions to help with gardening in an early childhood centre:

*  Buy heritage seeds or seedlings, rather than modern hybrid seeds or seedlings grown from modern hybrids.  (See the Seed Saving page of this site for details.)  This will allow you to save seeds after each growing season (to replant the following year) and allow children to learn about the entire plant life cycle in a wholistic way.  (NB:  By joining the Koanga Institute (http://www.koanga.org.nz/) you can also gain access to rare varieties of heritage seed and your centre could potentially become a guardian for a particular variety of seed and share it with the families of the children who attend your centre, thus helping to save rare plant varieties.)

* If there is limited outdoor space at your centre, some plants will grow well in containers.  Parsley, silverbeet and kale are easy to grow in containers, as are tomatoes.  Broad beans [see note at bottom of this page] are also easy to grow and kindergarten aged children enjoy eating the raw beans directly from their shells. (If you grow basil and marigolds (tagetes species, not calendula) with tomatoes, you not only have basil available for use in salads or cooking but your tomato plants will be healthier.)

Strawberries grow well in containers and are a favourite of children.  They are easy to grow.  (The only disease that they are prone to is a fungus called botyris cineria.  This can be a problem in humid weather.  It can be controlIed by weeding around plants to improve air flow if they are overgrown and picking off any dying flowers or fruit that show signs of mould and destroying them by burning or disposing in garbage (not in the compost.)  Strawberries are one of the most highly sprayed fruit in NZ and can contain higher residues than many other fruits, so growing them at an ECE centre is a good way to encourage people to grow their own.

Another option for centres with limited space is to place containers or raised beds close to fences and plant vegetables or fruit that will climb up the fence (or trellis or chicken wire or plastic webbing attached to the fence.)   Passionfruit will grow well in a sunny location.  Cucumbers can be induced to grow up a chain link fence or a piece of chickenwire that has been attached to an existing fence by positioning the vines against the fence.  The plant’s tendrils will then grip the wires and it will support itself against the fence.  Climbing beans such as “scarlet runner” and peas will also appreciate being positioned close to a fence.

*  A worm farm can produceed useful fertiliser for centre gardens, as well as being an opportunity for children to learn about the importance of worms in creating healthy soil. It can also reduce centre rubbish disposal costs. These generally need to be positioned in the shade; at least in summer as the worms will die if they get too hot. (See the “Compost” page for more information about worm farms.)

Special Health and Safety Considerations for Early Childhood Centres

NB:  Please read the general Health and Safety page of this site at this link  in addition to this section.

*  When deciding about which plants to grow where, take into account the needs of the plants and the age of the children at your centre. In an area in which there are babies under two years of age you may want to exclude plants that have fruit that are small enough to pose a choking hazard if they fall to the ground prematurely or simply produce small fruit such as berries.  Leafy crops such as lettuce, silver beet and kale and root crops such as carrots and beet root [see note at bottom of this page] may be a better choice for an under-twos garden.

* Some brands of potting mix contain moisture retaining crystals which resemble very firm lumps of jelly when they are hydrated.  Such potting mixes should be avoided when gardening with children  under the age of two – or older children who have developmental delays or do not speak sufficient English to understand that these lumps of jelly are not edible.

*  Some parts of some food plants are poisonous. Potato leaves contain toxic alkaloids, for example.  Rhubarb leaves contain toxic levels of oxalic acid.  Both taro leaves and roots of taro are poisonous (due to their high oxalate content) when they are raw; it is necessary to boil them (and discard the water in which they have been cooked) to render them edible. (The edible taro is Colocasia esculenta:  other varieties of taro such as the popular black taro are not edible.)

* When gardening in containers, care needs to be taken when choosing containers to select those that cannot be tipped over. Large containers can be extremely heavy when filled with soil and plants so care needs to be taken that they are in an appropriate position before gardening begins.

* Eating sufficient quantities of beet root may cause urine to become slightly pink.  It may be a good idea to let parents know when beet root is on the menu and that it may cause this harmless effect in case they are unaware that this can occur and worry that their child may have a urinary tract infection.

*  In a small minority of people, consumption of broad beans (Vicia faba –also known as Fava beans) may cause orange urine.  This is due to compounds in the beans causing destruction of red blood cells and subsequent excretion of components of red blood cells in the urine.  This occurs in people who have the rare genetic disease G-6PD.  Anyone who has this symptom after eating  broad beans should not eat them any more. G-6PD can be diagnosed with a blood test. It is worthwhile knowing that this condition exists since people who have G-6PD are at risk of having adverse reactions to pharmacueticals and cannot tolerate high doses of vitamin C – although normal amounts of vitamin C in foods are not a problem.

Broad beans also contain tyramine which means that they should not be taken by anyone who is taking any drug which inhibits the activity of the enzyme monoamine oxidase (These drugs are known as MAOI drugs).  (Children are prescribed MAOI drugs only very rarely and their parents are generally given a list of foods that they need to avoid.) (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicia_faba )

Categories: Gardening in Early Childhood Centres

Community Projects

All over New Zealand there are wonderful people who understand the importance of nutitrious food and taken up the challenge of helping others.  Here are some initiatives that you may like to join in (or start a similar project in your own community).  These are listed in roughly alphabetical order.  (f you have a project that you would like to list, please email the site coordinator through the Contact form.)


Ask Share Give

(Listed 6/9/12)

This is a new website that provides a forum through which people can ask for things (or services) that they need and give away things that they do not need or want.  Goods and services of all types are offered through the site, including some that are relevant to gardening,



Bucket Full of Veges

(Listed 21/1/12)

This is an initiative that is happening in Greymouth to help more people enjoy fresh vegetables. For more information see the Facebook page:



Community Fruit HarvestingPicking Neighbourhood Fruit for Charities

This organisation (started in Auckland but now branching out) picks unwanted fruit and gives it to charities.

Visit  www.facebook.com/pickfruit  or www.localist.co.nz/l/fuqmap to find out more.

Please email pickfruit@xtra.co.nz if you would like to volunteer to pick fruit; register your fruit tree to be picked; receive some fruit for your charitable organisation or help in any way.



Fruit Trees for Auckland

This group of volunteers is raising money so that they can supply fruit trees to school and early childhood centres that request a tree as well as plant fruit trees on council owned land such as gass verges and teach people how to look after them.  If you would like a fruit tree for your school or early childhood centre you can sign up at this link http://www.fruittrees.org.nz/signup-school/  or for one on the verge outside your house, register your interest at this link http://www.fruittrees.org.nz/signup/  For more information see http://www.fruittrees.org.nz/


Hand Over a Hundy

Hand Over a Hundy was started in Asburton by Jade Temepara who won NZ Gardener’s “Gardener of the Year Award for 2011.  Hand Over a Hundy is a project that provides a small amount of financial support to families who want to take up gardening so that they can buy tools, seeds, seedlings, fertiliser etc and a gardening mentor.  Hand Over a Hundy has featured in the following articles http://www.ashburtonguardian.co.nz/news/ashburton-news/4120-gardeners-reap-the-benefits.html  and in a story in Happyzine  called “NZ Gardener Celebrates Nation’s Green Heroes” ( http://happyzine.co.nz/)

For more information see: http://handoverahundy.co.nz/


Ask Share Give

This is a new website that provides a forum through which people can ask for things (or services) that they need and give away things that they do not need or want.  Goods and services of all types are offered through the site, including some that are relevant to gardening,


Categories: Community Gardens and Other Projects, Community Projects

Gardening in Containers

Many food plants will grow happily in containers.  Container gardening has the advantage of making your garden relatively portable (provided the containers are not so large as to be too heavy to lift).  Container gardening is therefore useful for people renting  on a short term basis.  Gardening in containers  is also a way to make good use of space that cannot otherwise be gardened such as a sunny patio or concrete driveway (that is not needed for parking.)

Many plants grow well in containers including tomatoes, silverbeet, kale, herbs and strawberries. Small citrus trees such as lemons and mandarins will also grow quite happily in large pots. Some types of containers which are porous such as unglazed pottery require watering plastic or glazed pottery.

The link below is to a website developed by two US students which shows an ingenious container gardening  system which includes a self-water system!



Categories: Gardening in Containers, Gardening Information

Food Co-Ops

Joining a food co-op is a great way to get food more cheaply.  Co-ops can be very casually structured (such as an informal  co-op in which all the households are members of the same extended) family or may be more formal organisations in which members are expected to take on certain responsibilities in running the co-op.

If you would like to list your co-op on this page, please email the site coordinator through the Contact form.  Thank you.


Auckland Co-ops


Ranui Community Food Cooperative

Ranui Community Food Cooperative in West Auckland welcomes new members.

To join the co-op just fill out the online membership form by clicking
here: http://tinyurl.com/ye4dryt . Instructions at the right of
the form tell you how to pay the one-off $25 membership fee. Or, if you
prefer, just download the Summer 2011 newsletter and fill out the membership
form on the last page and email it to judy [at] earthsong.org.nz

After joining, you can get really involved in the co-op community as a
working member and be eligible for a discount by clicking here
http://tinyurl.com/3dvagbt  to sign up on the Co-op Work Roster.  Just click
it and sign up for a shift. The coordinator on duty will orient you as to
what to do.

Membership meetings are always the first Thursdays of the month at 7:30 PM

The meetings alternate between being held at Earthsong in Ranui
(see address below) and at a member’s house. This next (upcoming 1st
of March meeting will be at a member’s house in Bethel’s Beach. Rides
will be organised at 7PM outside the Ranui Community House – please
contact judy [at] earthsong.org.nz if you would like to come.The following
April meeting  ill be in the dining room of the common house of Earthsong
Eco-Neighbourhood, 457 Swanson Road.  We ask members to please park on
the street – there’s always plenty of room.

We have a Facebook page that you can visit at this link:

Categories: Community Gardens and Other Projects, Food Co-ops


The aim of the Community Food Network is to encourage people to take positive action within their communities.

If you would like to donate money, food or your time please contact one of the organisations that are already working to help people in your community.

To help meet the urgent demand for extra food over Christmas, please visit the Foodbanks page of this site to locate a food bank near you and support them with a donation of food or money.

To support the longer-term goals of ensuring that everyone in New Zealand can enjoy locally grown nutritious food – and have the skills that they need to grow and prepare food  for themselves or their families, please support organisations that are already working in schools such as by donating to ProjectGro http://www.organicnz.org/projectgro/ or Garden to Table http://www.gardentotable.org.nz/.

The community-based organisation Hand Over  a Hundy that empowers families who are new to gardening to take up the challenge to grow some of their own food is also well worth supporting.  Its website www.handoverahundy.co.nz

If you do not have any spare money, but do have some free time, these and other organisations are well worth your support as a volunteer.

Thank you!






Categories: Donate, Help Offered


This page is for people who need resources to advertise for what they need – and for people who have resources that they would like to donate to school or community gardening projects to let others know that they are available.  If you need a particular resource or would like to donate something that you don’t need, please email the details via the Contact form.  Thank you.

Categories: Help Offered, Resources


This page is to help people and groups who need people to help with gardening projects find volunteers – and for people who want to volunteer their time and/or  knowledge to connect with people or groups who would benefit from their help.  If you have a gardening  project  that needs volunteers or would like to volunteer to help with the establishment or maintenance of a school or community garden, please email through the Contact form.  NB:  Soil and Health members who want to volunteer should register with the Association’s office.














Categories: Help Offered, Volunteers

Garden Share Schemes

It is a New Zealand tradition to share any surplus produce from home gardens with family, friends and neighbours on an informal basis.

The new subdivisions created in the State Housing programme in the 1950s provided each home with a generous sized section so that each family would not only have enough room for children to play in the back yard but so that families could achieve a measure of food self sufficiency as there would be ample space for vegetable gardens, fruit trees and even chickens.

These days, most sections are smaller; although with careful planning, even a small section can produce quite a lot of food.

There are still many people, however, are lucky enough to live in homes that have large sections. A lot of these sections have large areas of lawn which is valuable from an environmental point of view as it provides an area for rain to soak into and helps reduce the risk of local flooding after heavy downpours.  On the other hand, the upkeep of large lawns can be time consuming if you have to mow it yourself and expensive if you don’t have time to mow it  – or cannot mow it yourself – due to poor health or injuries.

Moreover, people who are working long hours or who have health issues may not be able to establish or maintain vegetable gardens on their section, even if they would like to do this.

How Garden Share Schemes Can Help

In a Garden Share Scheme, someone who has a large section including areas of lawn that are not needed for other purposes (such as play areas for children) could invite a family member, friend, neighbour, church member etc who has gardening skills but no garden of their own, or only a small one, to share the garden with them.

By mutual agreement, a certain amount of the section is dedicated to establishing food producing gardens and a plan for how they will be managed and their produce shared is worked out.  (It may be helpful to make a list of any costs in basic supplies that may be needed for  establishing gardens – such as perhaps seeds, seedlings, any infrastructure that may be necessary or desirable such as raised beds, a worm farm etc. and decide how these will be shared.*)

Garden Share Schemes provide the opportunity to make use of land in suburban neighbourhoods to provide locally grown fresh food. They also provide an opportunity to strengthen relationships between family, friends and neighbours.  For people who need work, Garden Share arrangements may also become a source of income if they can produce sufficient food to have enough to sell. (See:  Growing Employment Opportunities on this site).

Faith Communities and Garden Share Schemes

Churches or other faith communities in areas where there is significant unemployment and/or elderly people struggling to make ends meet on fixed incomes may want to facilitate Garden Share Schemes as a way of helping their congregation gain access to good quality food, reducing social isolation of elderly and improving the ability of people who are currently without paid work to provide nutritious food for themselves and their families.

Schools and Garden Share Schemes

Schools which have community service programmes may also want to consider facilitating a Garden Share Scheme for the benefit of students and other members of the school community who could benefit from fresh food and have garden space that they would like to share.

A Garden Share Scheme could also provide school students who are studying horticulture with practical experience, and if people in the community were able to make sufficient land available, a Garden Share Scheme might be a valuable part of  a school’s Education for Enterprise (E4E) programme – such as by establishing a relationship with businesses that grow and/or sell fresh produce, for example.   (See http://education-for-enterprise.tki.org.nz/ for information about how E4E schemes can be successful in schools.  The story at this link is to a about how the adoption of E4E at Runanga School led to the development of school gardens and a successful student-run cafe as well as other projects.  http://education-for-enterprise.tki.org.nz/E4E-in-action/Snapshots/Runanga-School#Run)

*  NB:  For people who are living in areas where water is metered and water is charged for separately from (and in addition to) rates bills, a discussion about how to minimise water consumption may be a necessary part of establishing a success Garden Share partnership.  (Ways to conserve water while still producing food are discussed on the Water Use and Conservation page of this site.) Likewise, people dependent on rain water tanks for their home water supply need to ensure that garden water use is carefully controlled over dry months – and that limitations of the water supply are understood when a Garden Share partnership is established.

Categories: Community Gardens and Other Projects, Garden Share Schemes