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GARDENA Gardener of the Year finalist: Fiona & Bailey

NZ Gardener and GARDENA have selected these great Kiwi gardeners, that are now finalists in the 2016 Gardener of the Year competition. The overall winner is up to you, read more about our five amazing finalists and vote for your favourite. Link to the voting page can be found below.

Fiona and Bailey - Christchurch

Cultivate Christchurch, a network of urban farms for at-risk youth, came about when its founders, Fiona Stewart and Bailey Perryman, were having a coffee together and realised they both had the same dream. Fiona, a former youth worker, and Bailey, who studied environmental management and set up several community gardens, first met when they received Vodafone World of Difference Awards for their efforts. 

After tapping their networks, the pair were permitted to lease a 3000sqm plot on the corner of Peterborough and Manchester streets in the former Red Zone. In just one year the site has been transformed into an urban farm. Compost and liquid fertiliser added to the existing soil has created a space in which herbs, leafy greens and gourmet baby root vegetables are grown. These are mainly sold to local restaurants, some of which pay Cultivate to remove their organic waste, which is composted back at the farm. Excess crops are distributed to City Mission, taken home by volunteers or shared at a weekly lunch for all-comers. 

The social enterprise has just acquired a second site in Halswell, in partnership with the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust, and a third site is under development. The farms are run along permaculture and biodynamic lines by a team, many whom are students or graduates of Lincoln University’s Biological Husbandry
Unit. A central aim is to provide a place where young people who need extra support to be in employment learn about gardening. “Our staff are a symbiosis of youth workers who are interested in gardening and gardeners interested in supporting youth,” says Bailey. 

Through their work on the farm, and engagement with restaurant staff and visitors to the garden the interns build confidence – two have gone on to paid employment. “We’re not working with them in isolation,” says Fiona. “We’re supporting them to have connections with other people in the community as well as giving them opportunities to engage with the land.” 

Photo: George Heard
Text: Rachel Clare

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