Re-connecting with our environment improves health and wellbeing. Over one hundred families across Waitakere can now experience this by receiving free start up vegetable gardens and being taught to grow their own food and compost as part of My Backyard Garden Project (MBGP).

People who received gardens participated in educational workshops around composting, seed raising and how to use home-grown produce. The workshops also focused on Maramataka/ Maori lunar calendar to revitalise the use of traditional practices. 

In the lead up to the workshop, local community garden coordinators and volunteers built and installed the gardens, and delivered compost bins to each of the location receiving a garden.

Compost bins, wood and soil for the gardens were all donated and recycled to ensure there was no cost to families. 

The project aims to increase the number of vegetable gardens in places where people live, learn, work and play to encourage more home-grown vegetables and cooking with more vegetables - a practice that has safeguarded Maori and Pasifika health and wellbeing.

Having a thriving vegetable garden also addresses the health inequalities for those families struggling financially to harvest and forage for themselves. In addition to families, schools and community organisations have also received free start up vegetable gardens. 

This is the second time MBGP has been happening in Waitakere. In 2016, 80 gardens were installed. 66 gardens were also built and delivered in one weekend in Rotorua and 100 gardens have also been installed in Māngere.

Healthy Families Waitakere Activator Michele Eickstaedt supported My Backyard Garden Project to coordinate the locations of the gardens and workshop presenters. 

Many organisations are supporting this initiative including Z Petrol Station Henderson, Mitre 10 Mega Henderson, Massey Community Men's Shed, Idea Services, Ranui Community Garden, Waitakere Rotary, Kelston Community Hub, Massey Matters, Triangle Park Community Garden, Club Physical Te Atatu, Compost Collective, Auckland Council supporting Love Food Hate Waste, Fresh Choice Ranui and Sport Waitakere.

16 of the 100 garden beds have been installed at Hoani Waititi Marae, see the story on Maori Television here