Evolving . . . Waitaki Community Gardens site and volunteer co-ordinator Ra McRostie is excited about starting the next phase of the gardens, through a community tree planting day. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

An opportunity to weave a personal connection into the legacy of the Waitaki Community Gardens is being presented to the community.

The gardens site is expanding and a community native planting day is being held to get things started.

The new area, next to the existing site in Chelmer St, had a connecting gate added last week, and a large mound had been created at the new site as a base for a “folk school”.

Community gardens site and volunteer co-co-ordinator Ra McRostie said a folk school would help expand opportunities, and enable community members with different skills, including carpentry and mechanics, to share the space.

The planting event would help establish the folk school environment, and create a sheltered, sunny space.

More than 1000 seedlings, of 14 different native varieties, had been bought through funding from the Otago Community Trust and the Waitaki District Council’s Covid-19 wellbeing fund.

They would be planted using the concept of a tiny forest, where three species were planted within 1sq m of each other, to help accelerate their progress and create a natural environment.

Waitaki District Council biodiversity adviser Gareth Boyt helped choose the appropriate natives. They would help create a corridor connecting to the Oamaru Public Gardens, Ms McRostie said.

She encouraged everyone to join the planting events next month and add their touch to a life-long project.

“It’s an opportunity for people to have a connection to this beautiful legacy that will be here forever.

“This is a community space. We want as many people as possible to feel like they have a connection, and that they are always welcome.

“It’s a beautiful thing to plant trees.”

Getting the project under way was exciting, and within a few years, the gardens would see the effects of the forest environment taking shape.

In 2019, the community gardens celebrated its 10th anniversary – and now was the right time to take the next step, Ms McRostie said.

“And just to be continually affirming this site as a hub of community education and great opportunities. It’s just creating this really healthy environmental legacy as well.”

There were more plans for the area, all involving making a good, balanced, native environment, she said.

The community planting days would be held on June 5 and 6, and June 12 and 13, from 10am to 2pm.

Everyone was invited to help plant the natives, and were encouraged to bring a spade if they had one. Lunch would be provided, she said.