Tag Archives: community garden

Pop-up gardening in Christchurch

Christchurch, the third-biggest city in New Zealand, has had a terrible time the last years. They got hit with a huge earthquake in 2010, an even more traumatic one in 2011, and then the quakes and uncertainty just kept coming. The city centre has long been razed but the go-ahead for new building hasn’t really come until recently.

Meanwhile, life goes on. A tough call, but it does.

We were in Christchurch recently visiting our colleagues at EMNZ and ZingBokashi, they’re doing a great work and have been for many years. (And when the earthquake damage was at it’s worst they were out there with truckloads of EM, spraying against smell and potential disease).

They tipped us about the great Agropolis community garden right in the heart of town. It’s a true pop-up affair, the signs are up for the current property to be sold, then I assume they’ll move on to a new spot yet again.

It’s a great little garden. Truly inspiring to see the spirit behind it, hanging in even when it’s tough, and creating a little spot of beauty and good health in the midst of what is, honestly, a traumatized city centre with a lot of building ahead of it.

The garden is sponsored in part by our EM colleagues. Bokashi and EM are used in the garden beds. Everything is very pragmatic here, they’ve made a great soil factory out of an old pallet-based water tank. (I’m sure these things have a name, just not sure what it is!)

There’s a productive greenhouse (plastic tunnel style) on site, information about when the next work session is, a practical watering system round the boxes and a great design on the garden beds. Lots of wooden shipping pallets here!

Anyhow, enjoy the pictures! Hope you’ll be inspired to pass them on to a community garden you know of.

You don’t need an earthquake to get this to happen!



Fresh and healthy herbs and veggies. You quickly forget what once was…


…until you look up at the backdrop.


Smart use of shipping pallets.


Yep. It works!


Coffee sacks. Not an idea I’d ever thought of. But then again, there’s a coffee roasters across the street…


Giant size bokashi bin.


Which is mixed with soil in this highly-pragmatic soil factory.


Fresh and healthy all right.


Smart use of stacked plastic crates with bokashi soil.


The for sale sign is up. The nature of the best for pop-up community gardens.


Just a practical detail from the watering system.




Community composting

Pedal to Petal, which uses bicycles with trailers to go around and pick up people's compost.

These guys are cool! Fed up with watching food and garden waste going to, well, waste, they started a pickup service. It’s called Pedal to Petal, and the whole idea is to help people that want to make sure their food scraps end up somewhere other than landfill.

Pedal to Petal is a cooperative, a group of enthusiasts that decided to made something happen and are getting out there and doing it. They provide local residents with a small bin for kitchen scraps. They then collect the bins by bicycle on a regular basis and compost them using a network of backyard composters.

Currently, they’re collecting from more than 160 households in their little corner of Canada.

“We’re carbon-neutral; arguably, carbon-negative,” says Matt Schultz, a student at the University of Victoria who runs the day-to-day operations of Pedal to Petal with Johnson.

“We’re delighted to see that more and more people no longer find putting compostable material into the landfill garbage stream acceptable,” Schultz says.

Pedal to Petal wants to generate jobs and grow food for low-income people in Victoria. The group gives its compost to gardens that donate food to the community, such as the Haultain Common, a boulevard garden in the Oaklands neighbourhood.

The article talks about the different methods of composting that can be used in an urban setting. They talk about Bokashi but haven’t yet tested the many ways it can work as part of an overall solution. Digging fermented Bokashi into the ground is the standard solution. For people living in apartments, a balcony or cellar “soil factory” can be ideal (see our blog here!), and can be done on an individual or collective basis. Bokashi also works really well incorporated into traditional composting, not only is it a nicer and healthier way of collecting the scraps indoors, it cuts down the frequency of collection needed and makes a hell of a difference to composting speed outdoors.

When it comes to greenhouse gases, traditional composting is not the hero you’d like to think. A lot of methane and co2 is generated from the rotting process and ideally we should be using more carbon neutral solutions that store the carbon. Bokashi scores a 10 on this one as the food-to-soil conversion is done with virtually all of the carbon preserved intact. Where it should be, in the soil and not in the air.

But ultimately, the first step is the big one; whatever form of composting or fermenting or whatnot you decide to use, just get stuck in and do it. Anything that diverts food and yard waste  from landfill and gets it back into the soil is a good thing. And a huge improvement on what we’re doing now.

Not to mention how much we’d all benefit from a little more good old-fashioned community spirit. Good on you, guys!

Read the Canadian article here!