A new gardening project aims to help the Waitaki community grow in more ways than one.
Last week, Oamaru film-makers Bridget Ellis and Maddy Maxwell launched Waitaki Gets Growing, a series of short videos featuring local experts, to help people create successful gardens.
The project was inspired by Kakanui market gardener Jim O’Gorman, who approached Ms Ellis about sharing his gardening techniques and knowledge on film.
“Then, after a chat with Maddy, the project got bigger,” Ms Ellis said.
They decided to start involving more people in the Waitaki district, including the Waitaki Community Gardens, Hapori o te Ao and Linda Wilson, to produce a series of short, “fun and accessible”, online videos.
“There’s a real wealth of people for us to call upon,” Ms Ellis said.
They started filming in July and received $6500 from the Waitaki District Council’s community resilience fund for the project.
Many people found a new love and appreciation for gardening during the Covid-19 lockdown, and Ms Maxwell hoped the videos would help people to start growing vegetables in an environmentally sustainable way that did not require a lot of time or money to set up.
“During lockdown, a lot of people wanted to grow their own food,” she said.
“But for a lot of people it didn’t work out that well. They didn’t have the skills or the knowledge for it to work as well as they wanted.”
The first five videos have been launched on YouTube and new videos will be released each week over the growing season.
The project had sparked a renewed passion for gardening in both film-makers.
“Both of us this year, since working with Jim and with Ra [McRostie, of Waitaki Community Gardens], we’ve learnt so much and we’re finding that we’re applying all our knowledge,” Ms Ellis said.
“Particularly being an editor, because I get to watch everything many times over and the information sinks in.”
Ms Ellis and Ms Maxwell’s vision for the project goes further than just gardening.
They hope to use the Waitaki Gets Growing umbrella to produce videos on all aspects of sustainable living to help build community resilience.
“A lot of people are talking about different visions of where Waitaki is going post-Covid, and the wider project . . . is to create videos on general sustainable skills with notable people in the community,” Ms Maxwell said.
“It’s not just about gardening, it’s not just about making things, it’s about the people as a whole growing and making the most of things.”