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 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. Community volunteers completed site clearing and preparation, and Citycare Property cleared the site of asphalt.
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.
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.
Next steps: The plan for the garden is complete and construction is underway, after some Covid-related setbacks. A container mural by artist Storm Waiwai is enlivening the site and a working bee and BBQ organised by Neighbourhood Trust on Saturday 2 July encourages members of the community to engage with the next phase of construction.