Celebrations as student gardeners dig chance to bypass high vege prices
Rachel Graham, Reporter
Volunteers at the Waiutuutu community garden include from left: Jess Lamb, Ariel Seux Tudor, Imo McRae and Kaitlyn Lamb. Photo: RNZ / Rachel Graham
Everyone is struggling with the rising cost of food at the moment, but a community garden at Canterbury University has just celebrated having helped students save their dollars for over 20 years by growing their own vegetables.
Twenty years ago a group of students turned a lawn at Canterbury University into the Waiutuutu community garden, and on Friday a group gathered at the gardens to celebrate all they have achieved.
Fourth year student Imo McRae is one of about a dozen volunteers who goes along to Waiutuutu Community Garden each Friday afternoon to learn some skills, put in some work and pick up a free bag of vegetables.
"There is pretty much always leafy greens and herbs, and at the moment we have heaps of lemons, leeks, beetroot, and then over summer there will be things like tomatoes, capsicums, chillies, eggplants."
McRae said for a student on a limited income the free vegies made a huge difference.
"The key thing that I've noticed is that while my peers might be complaining how expensive spinach is, I don't even notice because I don't need to buy it any more; I just get it fresh from the garden."
Ariel Seux Tudor is in her fifth year at the University of Canterbury and is another regular volunteer.
She said the community garden was good for her mental health and her wallet.
"I can make an entire week's meals, lots of soups and stuff, entirely from the garden and not relying on supermarkets at all. You get used to it, over the five years, you get used to working out ways to use all of the vegetables."
Twins Jess and Kaitlyn Lamb are in the university halls and so can't make as much use of the free vegies but said the garden offers other benefits too.
They enjoyed the atmosphere at the garden and meeting other people with a shared interest in gardening.
The garden was set up in 2002 by a university environment club called Kakariki who wanted students to have access to good quality food and gardening skills.
The university's sustainability manager Matt Morris, who oversees the garden, said the garden was pretty unusual 20 years ago.
He said it was now incorporated into formal teaching, with the course including visits to the garden or using it as a teaching tool.