Debut Ellerslie International Flower Show garden designer Jade Temepara of Hand over a Hundy in her Ashburton garden. Photo: Courtesy of Ashburton Guardian.
New Zealand Gardener of the Year 2011, Jade is a first-time Ellerslie exhibitor with Digging the Future, a garden designed to get young families to learn to grow and produce their own vegetables.
Twelve months ago Jade ripped up the lawn and garden in the front of her Ashburton cottage and began growing vegetables as a showcase for Hand over a Hundy, a concept she developed to get families growing their own vegetables.
The mother of four young girls says she had always gardened, learning the skills from her two grandfathers, the internet and by trial and error. It became more important for her to grow her own food when she had children and the family was on just one income.
“It is part of my culture to have an affiliation with the land, to grow food and be part of its eco-system; for the last few generations the connection with the land has been lost.”
Hand over a Hundy is designed to sponsor families $100 to buy seeds, plants and tools to grow and harvest their own vegetables. They work with volunteer mentors, the challenge being to learn to grow vegetables and produce more than they need to sell a “hundy dollars’ worth” and pass the money on to another family at the end of the year to get them started.
“I wanted to teach young families how to grow their own food, to bring neighbourhoods back together again and create a sense of community.”
It is a concept that has already drawn interest from Australia and the United Kingdom. Jade says the focus this year is to keep promoting the concept in New Zealand and to get an organisation established to ensure Hand over a Hundy thrives.
Last year 10 families took part of which 80 per cent were successful in completing the challenge. This year another 13 families are involved in the project.
Jade says her Ellerslie exhibition garden will showcase a typical Kiwi backyard and how it can be used to create food for the family. It may feature flowers but only those that have a companion planting role.
As for winning a medal, Jade laughs and says while she is “absolutely competitive and it would be awesome to win a medal” her focus is purely on creating a new generation of gardeners.
Ellerslie International Flower Show, North Hagley Park, 7 to 11 March 2012. For further information www.ellerslieflowershow.co.nz