From small seeds grow mighty trees. That’s been the story at Christchurch City Mission where members of Civil Contractors New Zealand’s Christchurch Westland branch have pitched in to kickstart a community gardening programme for people staying at the Mission’s shelters and engaged in its day programmes.
The garden, which has sprung to life on a previously unused section of land beside the City Mission’s 269 Hereford St office, consists of wooden pellet garden beds used to grow nutritious and colourful vegetables such as lettuce, tomato and beans. The pallets demonstrate a simple set up which can be replicated and used to teach the joy of gardening to people staying in Christchurch City Mission shelters, and those moving from shelters into their own accommodation.
But it wasn’t always this way. The land beside the City Mission’s Hereford St office was overgrown and difficult to access. It was no place for a model garden intended to inspire shelter residents.
That’s where CCNZ Canterbury Westland branch came in. Canterbury Westland executive committee member John Crawley was told of the City Mission’s plan and raised it at a CCNZ branch meeting. Schick Civil Construction and Isaac Construction leapt at the opportunity to help out, and quickly set about providing supplies.
Schick Civil Construction donated and delivered gravel and crusher dust to build a path to the gardens for all weather access and Isaac Construction donated tiles and wooden edging to make the garden area more attractive.
“The garden is an awesome project and our branch members were all too happy to help out,” Mr Crawley said.
The support of CCNZ’s members has played a vital role in growing the programme from a simple idea to something much bigger, says Georgette McAlpine, Anglican Care finance manager and the woman behind the City Mission’s new garden programme.
“We can’t do what we do without lovely groups like Schick and Isaac Construction assisting us. We would never have been able to achieve it without them – I would just be slogging through the dust and mud without the access they are creating.”
She is currently working with the men’s and women’s night shelters to help them create gardens of their own, using the one at 269 Hereford St as a test bed.
“The pallet gardens the men build could be moved to where they are needed and the pallets may be used as part of our housing first programme, which aims to get people in need into housing. There’s that pride of ownership if you build your own and can use it at your new accommodation.”
Eventually, she also wants to help introduce a year-long programme to help people know how to look after the garden and what to plant in different seasons.
“It’s just grown from a little seed to a great big tree. I’m really humbled by the support from Schick, Isaacs Construction, John Crawley from Civil Contractors and the community. It’s been awesome. Just, wow. Wow.”
The support for Christchurch City Mission’s garden programme is just one of the recent fundraising efforts supported by CCNZ members. In January CCNZ Canterbury Westland Branch Chair and Isaac Construction CEO Jeremy Dixon put his BBQ skills to the test alongside more than 25 other local CEOs as part of the Bayleys Canterbury Plate up for a Purpose event. Strong support from CCNZ Canterbury Westland members helped Mr Dixon raise more than $20,000 for the Christchurch City Mission on behalf of kids who need school uniforms, stationary and other items that many of us take for granted. Overall, Bayleys Canterbury Plate up for a Purpose raised more than $170,000.
Another CCNZ branch event on 16 March saw 14 people from Christchurch City Mission provided with a tour of the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust bird breeding sanctuary. The visit included a tour of the sanctuary and a supervised excavator experience followed by a BBQ lunch provided by ASB and a presentation on the Take a Kid Fishing programme.
Pictured: vegetables growing in the Christchurch City Mission gardens
Inset image: Schick Civil Construction pouring aggregate for the new accessway