Type of project: Community co-design project
Collaborator: Neighbourhood Trust
Sponsors/Funders: Natural Paint Co., Citycare Property, Hire King, Canterbury Landscape Supplies; Musgroves; Hire King; Blacks Fasteners; Canterbury Community Gardens Association; Tui Garden Products; Richmond Community Garden; Gather Landscape Architecture; Hummingbird Coffee; Christchurch City Council; and the Waipapa Papanui-Innes-Central Community Board Discretionary Fund.
Location: McFaddens Centre Carpark,64, McFaddens Road, Mairehau, Christchurch, NZ
Status: Under construction
The Green Lab is a non-profit that creates green spaces for social wellbeing and connection, often using a co-design approach. The Neighbourhood Trust works to bring connection, wellbeing and transformation to our community through faith, hope and love.
The Neighbourhood Trust actively supports Mairehau, St Albans, Shirley and surrounding communities, with development and resilience. They distribute kai boxes to those in need from The Whānau Centre on Nancy Ave. In late 2021 it was decided that The Green Lab would work with The Neighbourhood Trust and their community, to co-design a community garden behind the McFaddens Centre as part of this outreach.
The Neighbourhood Trust and the community have high aspirations for this garden. They wish to create and foster social connection, increase knowledge, share skills and resources. Strong shared values include: giving; mutual aid; a desire to see more food stability; an increase in self sufficiency; and resilience within the wider community. In addition, increased equity and accessibility for the community are of high importance.
There is a strong interest in a garden to plate approach, with a commercial kitchen on site at the McFaddens Centre available for workshops. The Community Steering Committee noted that food is a basic need and expressed a desire to make sure their whole community has that need met as an aspirational goal. The Neighbourhood Trust identified that there is a need for community support and desire from a core of people to participate in the creation of a garden, and community surveying supports this.
The Green Lab approached Gather Landscape Architecture to collaborate on the design of the garden, continuing a longstanding relationship between our organisations; Gather’s lead Landscape Architect, Wendy Hoddinott, was chair of The Green Lab (then Greening the Rubble) 2017-18. Over the course of three co-design hui it was identified that they are a very diverse area, with a socio-economic divide across Cranford Street. There is a mixture of long term residents in their own homes, and renters who, with many people reliant on various forms of social support. It was acknowledged that not everyone will have the ability to participate in the garden, but that the community benefits could be significant. A brief was developed with the Community Steering Committee, and a design created in response.
The plan for the Mairehau Neighbourhood Garden was signed off by the Community Steering Committee and The Neighbourhood Trust in late March 2022. The build has been underway since May, with a series of unavoidable COVID related interruptions affecting the delivery timeline, but not the enthusiasm of all those involved.
The Green Lab’s Build Lead, Tom Phillpotts, has worked closely alongside the Neighbourhood Trust’s Community Activator, Don Benn, and a cohort of community volunteers. The design has been delivered to a high quality, using upcycled materials wherever possible. We have had support from numerous suppliers and organisations to enable the garden build including: Canterbury Landscape Supplies; Musgroves; Hire King; Blacks Fasteners; CityCare Property; Natural Paint Company; Canterbury Community Gardens Association; Tui Garden Products; Richmond Community Garden; Gather Landscape Architecture; Hummingbird Coffee; Christchurch City Council; and the Waipapa Papanui-Innes-Central Community Board Discretionary Fund.
In September, The Green Lab brought Ngaio Cowell and George Sapsford to the project, to lend their skills in permaculture, organic food growing, and building. Ngaio led a seed germination workshop and developed a planting plan for the community to start out with, and George created compost bins and added a worm farm to the design. Several community working bees saw the final fill added and compacted, and the garden beds filled with a mixture of organic green materials, pony poo, compost and soil. The Polytunnel was installed and the build phase completed in October 2022.