The Fantail Gardens project has truly flourished. It started out as a small backyard initiative and is now a bustling hive of activity on a sizeable chunk of land.
The garden produces specific produce for markets, offering meaningful activity to people using Pathways services. It’s also a community garden where anyone living in Waihi can enjoy working their own plot of land.
Fantail Gardens is one with a bit more than you’d expect. Sure, there’s plenty of household varieties of produce, including beans, broccoli, pumpkin, potatoes and garlic; but you’ll also find dried flowers, the natural exfoliator - the ‘Loofah’ and the little known ‘Tomatillo’ (great for salads and salsa).
Those running the Fantail Gardens Project encourage any level of participation. The nature of the business makes it possible to shape roles to suit individuals and create positive outcomes. It’s about matching what people want with what they feel able to do. “A person in their thirties may be more comfortable with really physical work than someone in their sixties,” explains coordinator Bev Hall. “Working at the garden builds our self-esteem, when we pack up produce for orders we all feel really proud of what we have grown.”
The gardens have obtained organic certification and the team is continuing to work on plans to diversify. “It’s not just about generating income, but also about creating the kind of healthy work environment so many people desire,” explains Bev Hall. She’s been delighted to have seen people move on from their first job at the Fantail Garden Project to mainstream employment.