Jo Stock’s thinking of changing the name of the Bayfair Community Garden after she received a rent demand from Tauranga City Council.
It’s the first rent demand the Bayair Community Garden has received in more than 20 years and it threatens the foodbank’s supply of vegetables, says gardener Jo Stock.
Unlike other community gardens that have flourished across the city in the decades since the Bayfair Community Garden started growing vegetables in the mid to late 90s, the Bayfair Community Garden is a not for profit supplier of veges for the foodbank.
They are not a bunch of gardeners growing for their own families. They are a bunch of pensioners with an average age of about 75, and have to scrounge together to find the $1000 they need each year to keep running.
The demand for $314 represents a third of their income, says Jo.
“They just decided to collect a bit more revenue seeing we are under the name of community garden. I’ve tried to tell them we are not in the same category, but they won’t listen.
“We will have to change the name on the lease. Apparently we have one now. I’ve never seen it, never signed it.”
When the garden started in 1999, Jo says they had a verbal agreement with the parks and reserves manager at the time. He’s not there anymore.
The garden originally started on Hillier Centre property, which was later sold to Sommervale Retirement village, forcing the move onto the Grenada Reserve. It was a horse paddock and fencing was needed to keep out the animals, says Jo.
Other people use the park without paying, she says.
The Bayfair Community Garden, just over the fence from Family Works. Photo: Google maps.
Saint Thomas Moore School uses the park because it doesn’t have grounds of its own, but then, Jo says the land was originally gifted to the council by the Roman Catholic Church in the first place.
The garden is part of the education for students from both St Thomas Moore and Arataki Primary School.
“We’ve got a group from head injury at the moment, and the alcohol and drug addiction services, we are doing a big service to the community,” says Jo.
That’s in addition to the 539 banana boxes of veges sent to the foodbank.
She’s spoken to the local councillors who have suggested the garden apply for a grant.
“And then if I go through all the hoops and I get that much, I have to apply every year for that - which is demeaning,” says Jo.
“We are old people, they shouldn’t be charging us anything.
“Why should I apply for funds from the city council for what for them amounts to about two morning teas? It’s a third of our income. We manage on about $1000. The rest is goodwill from all kinds of people.
“It’s a two-way thing, it doesn’t come down to money. It’s been a real worry. I haven’t been sleeping very well.”
Tauranga City Council has been contacted for comment on this story, and its comments will be added when they arrive.