Helping Paparoa grow, more hands still needed
Story by volunteer reporter Helen Frances, Volunteering Northland
You can interpret the name “Grow Paparoa Inc, Whakatipu Paparoa” in a couple of different ways, and they are both accurate. The garden is all about growing food, and all about growing a community. When I visited the Paparoa Playcentre children were there, some learning about planting and watering, some running about madly in the open space. Lyn was on her first day of volunteer gardening. “I think I’ve found my tribe”, she said. Vivien who wasn’t a gardener until she started volunteering at the garden says, “It’s a wonderful way to meet a great group of people. We’re all learning off one another. We all talk and exchange ideas. Morning tea can go on for an hour!” As well getting her hands into the soil, she also runs a garage sale every Saturday morning to raise funds for the garden.
An incorporated Society, Grow Paparoa Inc, Whakatipu Paparoa started eleven years ago as a garden and arts and crafts organisation, but over time the arts side fell away and it developed into the community garden it is today. A committee of eight, with Jan Dallas in the Chair, runs the garden, and many local businesses support it with products and funding. This is where “growing the community” kicks in. “Everyone’s contribution matters”, says Jan. “Anyone can always call in and have a cuppa and a chat. It’s a safe place for people to drop in. It’s a gathering place.”
All the produce from the garden goes to the Paparoa Foodbank and the Otamatea Community House for distribution to people who need it. Sometimes produce is passed onto people directly from the garden. “No questions asked, no strings attached”, says Jan. This generous, open-hearted concern for others is at the heart of the Grow Paparoa/Whakatipu Paparoa. It’s a warm and welcoming place for volunteers, the public, and people in need.
Grow Paparoa Inc, Whakatipu Paparoa need volunteer gardeners. If you would like to be part of this friendly team doing worthwhile work contact Volunteering Northland at firstname.lastname@example.org, or search for Grow Paparoa Inc, Whakatipu Paparoa on the Volunteering Northland website.