For many years, thanks to the generosity of founding members David and Antonia Craig, Awhitu Landcare raised plants at a small shadehouse on the Craig farm. But plant numbers steadily outgrew this facility, and so we began the project to build our own native plant nursery on community land.
We obtained agreement from Franklin Council and the Local Board to lease an area of public land at Matakawau for this purpose. This land is next door to the Awhitu District School, making perfect sense for the Trees for Survival work with the pupils.
By developing a purpose-built native plant nursery on this central site on community land on the Peninsula, we had a number of objectives in mind.
We wanted to:
- Give revegetation / pest control work on the fragile Peninsula some surety of existence into the future
- Enable the collection and propagation of local seeds for eco-sourcing
- Enable large numbers of native plants to be grown
- Increase environmental educational opportunities
- Make the Landcare base central and accessible to volunteers and visitors
In time, our ideal is to make the plant nursery a self-funding operation. If we are able to assist local landowners with plants, and the labour to plant them, at an affordable rate, this will extend native plantings on the Peninsula, protect vulnerable areas on farms (such as steep hillsides and streams), increase the region’s biodiversity and – as an added bonus – perhaps provide employment to locals.
However, there is a long way to go before we can achieve that ideal. In the meantime, we are extremely grateful to our faithful volunteers who come along to chat at the nursery while preparing seeds, sowing them, pricking out, potting up and weeding. It’s very productive, rewarding work.
We intend to always continue our planting projects on public land for locals and visitors to enjoy.