The farm was established in 1981 and is managed for the benefit of the local community by the Kelmarna Community Garden Trust. From the outset, the Trust has promoted organic gardening and wholly exclude the use of chemical sprays and artificial fertilisers. They rely instead on compost, healthy soil, good plant care and natural pest management.
The gardens are managed and maintained by Adrian and Andy (pictured on previous page), alongside a team of hard working and passionate volunteers. Inside the grounds of the farm you’ll stumble across a food forest, beehives, vegetable plots, compost bins, roaming hens, a Welsh pony, grazing livestock, a produce shop, worm farms and their new Soil Factory initiative. It’s a busy place with many different functioning aspects – but the sense of serenity and calm, and the friendliness of the staff and volunteers onsite make it a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Auckland life.
From 1992 until early 2015, Kelmarna was sub-leased to a mental health provider whose clients used the gardens for therapy and growing their own food. Today, the team continue to support the mental health community and are committed to producing beneficial outcomes for their own volunteers who have mental health diagnoses, through community-based gardening and community-building initiatives.
Education is the beating heart of Kelmarna Gardens. The team has designed and developed an organic demonstration garden which helps them teach people of all ages about home gardening and sustainable living. Working alongside schools and community groups, they help children develop an understanding of where their food comes from, and introduce them to discussions about how to feed themselves sustainably in the future.
Kelmarna is a very special place. It brings diverse sections of society together over food and a common purpose. Through involvement at Kelmarna Gardens, volunteers, customers, organised groups and other visitors meet new people and feel more connected to others in their community. It’s their inclusive approach to welcoming all who come into the grounds that empowers people and makes them feel a sense of ownership and belonging to the local, shared resources and community.