Manurewa Community Teaching Garden is a colourful and abundant piece of land in the heart of Auckland’s southern suburbs. The fun, experimental spirit of the garden’s main mentor, Grant, is in evidence throughout the garden.

Pop down on a Wednesday morning or a Saturday and you will find people working away on their allocated piece of land. It’s popular, so if you fancy a plot yourself, you’ll have to join the waiting list! Grant, Katja and Paul are regulars, and between them they have a whole host of composting stories and tips to share. Several of the gardeners do not have composting facilities at home, so instead of sending their food waste to landfill, they bring it along with them and use the shared composting facilities at the garden.

Their home-made worm farm (an old bath) is state-of-the-art. If worms were currency, this garden would be richer than the Queen! Paul’s top tip is not to let your worm farm get too wet, or they’ll become escape artists!

As well as the worm farm, they use a three bin cold composting system. They also compost the kikuyu grass by putting it in large bags until it rots down. Once it’s ready, they plant pumpkins directly into it. Grant says the results are delicious.

Katja uses a Bokashi bucket system at home for her cooked food waste, onion skins and citrus waste. She also uses a regular black plastic compost bin, and says her biggest challenge has been rats. She wants them to find another home, so is planning to place her bin on some strong chicken wire to keep them out.

Grant says children never cease to be amazed by the number of bugs they find, and love learning about how the bugs help to make compost. He also loves the economic benefits – free fertiliser from the worm farm and liquid composts, their own potting mix and seed raising mix, and an abundance of healthy fresh produce that tastes great. Add to this the great community spirit and you’re onto a winner!

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