The gardening project at CHT Hillcrest was one of the initiatives introduced to improve the quality of life of the residents. The main goals were to promote activities for residents and improve the resident’s social relationships. The other goals were;
- To provide an opportunity for the residents to continue to contribute to their community.
- To involve the local community in the activities programme and participate in the daily activities of the unit.
- To bring children together with the elderly and to encourage the older people to share their knowledge, creating a valuable experience for visitors and residents.
- To grow healthy organic vegetables and to assist in educating children about the nutritional and health benefits of vegetables, as well as contributing positively to the needs of others in the community by donating produce to local food banks
- To encourage residents to become more active by providing an opportunity to take up gardening.
The original idea of the project was to have school children visit CHT Hillcrest and garden with our residents. Once the vegetables were grown we aimed to donate the produce to the local community food banks.
We set up two raised garden beds in the gardens on the property. We then approached Jean Batten School at Mangere who were happy to be a part of our project. When the garden beds were ready, our residents and children planted the seedlings together, while residents who were not able to join the planting enjoyed watching from the lounge. The CHT gardener provided information on growing seasonal vegetables and CHT activity coordinators educated children about the nutritional & health benefits of the vegetables we were planting.
Two groups of children from Jean Batten School participated in this project. The residents really enjoyed the visits. The children read books to the residents and are involved in the daily activities of the unit during their spare time while at the site. After few months, residents & children harvested the vegetables. After each harvest, we planted more vegetables. To date we have done 13 harvests with all produce donated to Manukau Salvation Army food bank and Te Puea memorial Marae, who supply food for homeless people in the Mangere community.
Recently, the kindergarten, Nga Kākano O Te Manuka has become a part of our gardening project. The children & students from Nga Kākano O Te Manuka recently visited to do harvesting and the children will be visiting once a month to be a part of the project.
The vegetables we harvested include silver beets, carrots, beetroot, sweet peas, beans, peas, zucchini, courgettes, strawberries, chives, parsley, tomatoes, capsicum, chillies, lettuce, broccoli, rock melon, basil, capsicum, bok choy, silver beats, parsley, capsicums and so on.
This project has enhanced the quality of life of our residents, providing an opportunity to enjoy the outdoor environment, fresh air, warm sunshine and natural surroundings. The residents and students took care of the garden together and it was one of the main activities in the unit to promote quality of life of our residents. There is meaning in life when we can continue to contribute to the community even in a small way and that is what we tried to achieve through this project. We achieved all our goals and it was a great team effort. CHT Hillcrest will continue to provide the residents with a garden to support their wellbeing and to contribute to the local community.