Innermost Gardens is a community garden in Mt Victoria, Wellington. Nestled between an inner-city suburb and and city's famed town belt, the gardens can be enjoyed by many.

Our mission is "Growing community through hands in the soil", so whether your passion is growing food, strong communities, permaculture design or sustainability, we've got what you may be looking for to get your taste buds active, your mind intrigued or your hands dirty.

LIKE WHAT WE DO? LET OUR LANDLORDS KNOW

Our town belt lease is up for renewal and we're asking our community to support our application. If you would like to provide support, please email PSRLeasing@wcc.govt.nz no later than 5pm, 30th March 2018.

Below are the notes that our Chair, Tim Packer, spoke to at the council presentation . It's a very inspiring 2-page read and demonstrates a reach much further than a couple of acres on the side of Mt Victoria.

Lease Renewal presentation to Wellington City Council

February 2019

Presented by Tim Packer

Thank you for the opportunity to share a view with you today in support of our lease renewal application.

Innermost Gardens is a community garden run as a charitable trust, run entirely by volunteers, whose singular goal is to facilitate ‘community hands in the soil’ so while our product comes from the gardens themselves the value is in the benefits to people and the community of Wellington

I have volunteered at the gardens just over a decade now, half of that time acting as Chairman of the gardens. This has given me the benefit of experience and the opportunity to provide some perspective on the power of community gardens

Ecologically speaking I’m proud to say we have been good stewards of the land. With the help of some purpose breed mushrooms for bioremediation and over a decade of community compost we’ve taken what was 2 acres of abandoned bowling green full of DDT to what are now some of the healthiest most productive soils you can find.

Our core principles and ethics are those of permaculture which is foundered on care for people, care for the earth and fair share.

We have converted bare land into dozens of productive annual beds, productive orchards and food forests. We have implemented native wetlands and more recently a sub tropical alley including Bananas. We continue to produce tonnes of very healthy food that all good directly back to the community. But more so we provide specific examples of urban production design that everyone can plant in their own WGTN backyards to become healthier and more resilient. We also provide workshops and through the hall use host many other groups who use the gardens as a medium for education.

We have the help of over 100,000 bees who provide pollination services for our gardens but also for every other garden within a 5KM radius. Kindly provided by the Beeple collective who are a social enterprise, so half of our honey goes to the Women’s refuge while the other goes back in the social enterprise to support budding apiarists to develop new career skills.

You wouldn’t find a better community compost production facility than we have at Innermost Gardens. Through various grants provided by this good city we have recently designed and built new composting facilities. Over the years Mt Victorians have come to rely on our composting facilities. Today you’ll find a regular stream of folks bringing in their kitchen waste using the opportunity to take a walk and enjoy the amenity aspect of the gardens. Today we divert from the landfill over 100kg’s a week of community kitchen waste and turn that into black gold, thanks to some byproducts from Wellington’s coffee making industry to supplement.

Our community hall is beautiful and well maintained and attracts groups that enjoy the atmosphere of the being immersed in the gardens. As a result our hall is fully booked for most of the time with long term users of singing, dancing, meditation, yoga, pre school and special needs groups.

One of our core activities is hosted garden days which provides individuals the opportunity to meet, learn and get their hands in the soil. They are a low barrier way for folks to engage with the gardens, if you turn up you get to take home some produce. They help people connect with others in their community that have similar interests.

We run quarterly dinners that are oversubscribed every time where dozens of folks who have no other connection with the garden can come and experience food prepared from the gardens, cooked by skilled volunteers chefs and enjoy music and dancing. For me they are on of the most satisfying things to see as it demonstrates the powerful social value that can come from the gardens and hall.

I believe what we are experiencing now is the powerful combination of the garden elements, the hall and community connections setting the stage for truly unique value. As an example on our mid week garden day seniors get to come out of their homes and plant flowers for amenity and they are supported by a fine young crew of Autistic children who use the garden as an aspect of their therapy. This collaboration just happened naturally and everyone wins.

Our community connections run strong. We have a strong collaborations with other community groups such as the Mt Vic hub and through those collaborations Innermost has become a core element and often the last stop for various broader community led events such as neighbours day.

Further collaboration other groups such as the sustainability trust has seen the gardens used for the afterschool Wilderkids program. Just two weeks ago we saw 45 supervised children entertained and challenged with outdoor activity in the gardens and also in the greater town belt. For many the gardens is a nice interface between the city and the town belt.

We also support businesses and in the last couple of months have hosted banks, insurance companies and IT companies who want to get out of the office and do some hard graft in the gardens, some more keen than others :) More recently we hosted a professional rugby team who in exchange for some gardening skills development happily moved a few cubic metres of compost for us in record time.

I could go on but my main point is that the gardens supports so many connections now and what are now becoming exponential benefits that it has its own life well above and beyond the humble annual beds we started with. It’s taken time to develop those benefits and connections but in its current form and composition we are a powerful force for good in Wellington and its through the hard work of a fantastic core group that all commit so much of their time expecting no reward in return.

Those benefits from these gardens and many others in Wellington can often unnoticed by the administrative element of cities. From my experience this the case in most cities for most green spaces. The old adage ‘if you can’t measure it you can’t value it’ applies. As a result and with a deep interest in supporting the cause of edible food networks Innermost Gardens, Wellington City Council and interested academics are beginning to work on a green KPI’s research project that will attempt to develop more qualitative and quantitative measures that will value green spaces not only for their ecological system services but also their citizen health and community wellbeing benefits. At the very least we’ll stimulate some positive conversations, but potentially we’ll provide the genesis for a template that other cities can use worldwide.

So I hope thats provided some perspective for you on Innermost gardens and the potential benefits of community gardens and the edible food network in cities. Thank you again for the opportunity and for your consideration of our lease.

CALLING MIDWEEK GARDENERS

After a successful trial, we are now running Tuesday morning garden working bees every week in term time, with a focus on grounds beautification. If you are free from 10am - 12pm, please come along and join us.

AND WE GARDEN ON SUNDAYS TOO

We're still running garden working bees on the first and third Sunday of the month from 11am-2pm. These tend to focus on planting crops, making compost and garden maintenance.

HOW DO WE DIFFER FROM OTHER COMMUNITY GARDENS?

We were interviewed for a university assignment feature on Wellington Gardens. The video below explains a bit more about us, and other Wellington community gardens.