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New grow-your-own vegie patch

Organisers of a new communal garden in Queenstown want to hear from green-fingered locals keen on growing their own.

About 20-50 plots will soon be available at a 7500 square metre council-owned site next to a wetlands area in Gorge Road.

Fencing and a watering system have still to be installed but the Harvest Community Gardens group is working flat out to get the facility open.

“We’re hoping people will be able to get in and get planting by October,” Harvest chairwoman Robin Rawson says.

She believes there’s big demand for the project as garden space is limited in the resort.

“There are an awful lot of people who are renting or living in apartments and don’t have access to an area where they can grow things.

“It has been a boost to get land that is within walking or cycling distance to town.”

Queenstown Lakes District Council recently approved a free five-year lease on the land, which has good soil and winter sun.

Harvest already has a garden in Speargrass Flat Rd near Arrowtown but has been battling for a spot in Queenstown for some time.

And with the economic downturn biting hard for some local families, Rawson says the idea of people growing their own fruit and vegetables is becoming more appealing.

“When people come to Queenstown to live, they realise that veggies are quite expensive compared with elsewhere,” she explains. “Anything that helps keep grocery bills down can only be good.”

Rawson adds: “Community gardens have actually become quite trendy again. A few years ago in Britain, they were removing allotments but now they’ve suddenly taken off again and some people have to be on a waiting list for years to get one.”

The new Gorge Rd garden will be spray-free and a plot can be had for just a small donation.