Garden a way to connect

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The Garden Project is ready to grow another year of connections and vegetables, organisers say.
The garden, located at Musselburgh School, was originally set up as a community garden about 10 years ago by Musselburgh resident Beryl Lee.
However, after it slowly ran out of steam about three or four years ago, Mrs Lee, who was also the president of the Dunedin Multi-Ethnic Council at the time, then turned it into a DMEC project.
Mrs Lee said she considered it a way of connecting new migrants together and making them feel at home, while also giving them something to do and vegetables to take away from all their work.
‘‘It just made sense.’’
DMEC vice-president Lina Lastra said it was an ‘‘ideal, non-threatening way’’ of getting people together and giving them a practical way of learning English.
The gardeners could also learn about New Zealandspecific gardening habits and the different fruit and vegetables eaten in Dunedin, she said.
Musselburgh School principal Debbie Smith said the garden’s location in the school meant there was quite a bit of input from the school, and its pupils were also able to interact with migrants, attempting to learn phrases from their native languages and connecting with a broader range of cultures.
Ms Smith said it was a ‘‘lovely collaboration’’ between the DMEC and the school, with many of the children coming out and talking to the gardeners.
They were also planning performances by the school’s kapa haka and other performing groups when the garden reopened for the spring.
Ms Lee said they grew a range of fruit and vegetables in the patch. Potatoes, broad and runner beans, silverbeet, cabbage, parsley, bok choi and the often-unknown cabbagelike kohlrabi were among the produce.
They also had raspberries, cranberries, gooseberries, yams, mint, garden herbs, tomatoes, apples and pears, she said.
Volunteers would clean and organise the garden on September 20 in preparation for the coming growth, Ms Lastra said.
She said they needed volunteers to help out the garden and also other people willing to pick up and drop off the migrants and former refugees using the garden, as most of them did not have their own transport. – If people want to help out with the Dunedin Multi-Ethnic Council’s ‘‘Garden Project’’, email