Easter the perfect time for winter crops

By Talisa Kupenga
  • Wellington

A Wellington 'green thumb' says Easter is the perfect time to round-up the summer harvest and prepare soil to plant winter crops. 

But Mokai Kainga Community Garden Director, Robert Te Whare expects that along with winter's chill will also come the homeless looking for help and shelter.

Te Whare says community gardens bring families one step closer to self-sufficiency.

"I mean four stalks of rhubarb was something like $7. What's that telling you? That we need to grow our own kai".

Te Whare’s nephew, Taane Iraia, says there is so much potential for produce here.

"The things we see growing are cabbages, potatoes, tomatoes, capsicums- the whole lot".

Mokai Kainga started in 2009 and has 89 plots.

Te Whare says, "We have to be quick picking puha because too many Māori's come around picking our pūha and before we know it there is not much puha here".

Harvesting is not only limited to garden produce.

Keen gardener Lisa Rawiri says, “We're cleaning up [the flax].  Not only to harvest the good stuff for the whāriki [woven mats], but to also help the gardens here- because Robert and his crew have kindly let us use the facilities here and let us harvest here when we need to".

Justin Swift says he and his family have been coming to Mokai Kainga for years.

"It's great growing food for the table but it's nice to feel like we're part of a community as well- which you kind of lose when you go to work Monday to Friday".

Te Whare and his team have also worked hard to bring the longfin eel population back to Owhiro stream after severe weather and pollution last year rendered it uninhabitable.

Te Whare says "There's about 60.  We count them because we know a lot of people try and take our eels- especially our relations".

Te Whare says Mokai Kainga is looking to expand.

"We might try do a deal with the council to put little houses on the [other] property so that the homeless people can be living there and grow their own kai.  That could be a possibility, I'm not saying that that will happen, but there could be a possibility with us and council because council is wanting to find ways of how they can help the homeless".

Te Whare says the brassicas family make good Winter crops; including broccoli, cabbage and leeks.