The Selwyn Park team in Whangarei have created a resident focussed ‘Berri-licious’ project. The initiative, which has seen them cultivate a strawberry and lavender field within the village grounds, is now providing an abundance of fresh, luscious strawberries and offers many more benefits for residents, families, staff and the local community alike.
In 2019, a multi-disciplinary team of six staff had the novel idea of creating a strawberry and lavender patch on a private, sunny piece of previously unused land at the village, which would not only provide enhanced opportunities for a wide range of engagement-in-life activities for residents, but would also create a great teamwork focus for both residents and staff.
Having landscaped the site and constructed the elevated planting platforms, the team set to work on the planting during their free time and lunch breaks over the course of two days. In just a few hours, they had put in a total of 1,100 strawberry plants, later adding lavender which was planted in the area underneath the strawberry stands.
This year, they’ve continued to replant the strawberry ‘daughters’, creating a second tier of wheelchair-accessible strawberry plants. There’s now more than double the original number of strawberry plants for the entire village community to enjoy, with an additional 600 plants having been potted and sold separately.
With support provided from The Selwyn Foundation’s garden re-fresh fund for ongoing investment in the venture, a dedicated café/gift shop has also been established on site, which is open to the local community five days a week and trades under Selwyn Park’s own ‘Berri-licious’ name (the brand and fun logo having been designed by The Selwyn Institute). This space with its lovely deck is enjoyed by residents, staff and family, with the latter regularly bringing their loved ones to the café for outings, which saves them having to relocate into town – a bonus for those who are less mobile.
Residents are now able to enjoy the ‘fruits’ of their labour in many and diverse ways. Care residents delight in being able to wander amongst the stands and pick the organically grown, spray-free fresh strawberries for dessert, which are at the perfect height for easy access. Surplus strawberries are sold to the village and local communities on market days, and residents help out by baking and making an assortment of strawberry and lavender products such as jams, shortbread, potpourri, drawer sachets as well as other arts and crafts. All profits are reinvested for the benefit of the Selwyn Park community and in expanding production further.
This wonderful, stimulating and empowering activity has brought joy and meaningful engagement for residents of all abilities and has engendered a greater sense of belonging, connection and a common purpose which is shared between fellow villagers and with staff alike. The initiative has enhanced the community spirit in the village, with everyone spending more time together on the various Berri-licious projects, and has become an integral part of village life that will keep on giving long into the future. Have a look at their story on Seven Sharp.Strawberry Fayre