Eighty families in Waitakere are now benefiting from growing, harvesting and cooking with vegetables from their backyard gardens. After attending workshops that covered how to compost, build a garden bed and look after the plants, these families embarked on a journey to provide nourishing food for their whanau. With 50% of these families now cooking with the vegetables most days of the week and 80% at least once a week, we are seeing a sustainable shift in the food consumed by our communities.

Since having their own backyard garden, families have made savings by growing and cooking with vegetables that they previously would have bought from a store. For example a Ranui family no longer need to buy spinach and silverbeet as they now grow enough to feed their family.

Being able to utilise freshly picked vegetables in family meals is a significant motivator for these families to continue to grow more vegetables. A number of families are saving on waste and producing less rubbish as well as having a little more money in their pockets. These gardens are not only benefiting each family but many have shared their surplus of vegetables with wider family members, friends, neighbours and even foodbanks.

The Pasifika Arts Centre at Corbans Estate Henderson have two gardens that have become a hub for over 100 Pasifika people. 14 Pasifika groups regularly attend the Centre and have embraced the gardens as a means to re-ignite traditional gardening methods. The Centre also plans to increase the number of gardens beds and plant taro on the grass bank.

The gardens have prompted these families to share their knowledge and skills with the wider community and 10 more Pasifika families have since developed vegetable gardens in their own back yards, “The gardens have strengthened our sense of community, by creating a space to gather, share and learn about gardening and our environment.”

Corbans Estate are now seeing the value in their space being used to support local food production and will work with the Pasifika community to extend the gardens to cater for the increased demand.

Healthy Families Waitakere worked alongside key stakeholders, My Backyard Garden Project, Pasifika Vision and Compost Collective at Auckland Council, to coordinate the workshops and installation of the garden beds that are now reaping benefits for the wider community.

“A critical element to the sustainability has been connecting these families with each other and the stakeholders that can support them with training, education and materials”, says Healthy Families Waitakere Manager, Kerry Allan.