Not your everyday garden centre.
Murray Young is the face of YouthGrow at the farmers market. He has been involved with this Presbyterian Social Support for youth programme for about 11 years.
YouthGrow is a 'life ready, work ready' programme for 16 - 24 year olds. They help young people to build on their skills and find a job that’s right for them, while learning other useful stuff like budgeting, planning and cooking. Based in a commercial nursery, the group and individual activities undertaken have immediate, practical application.
It was so cool to see all of this in action in what is one of Dunedin’s best kept secrets. Tucked away down Norwood St in NEV this is one of our favourite nurseries. A team of youth workers, propagators (Stephen Dewdney and Toni Robertshaw) and Murray in retail, on a part time basis these days, makes this place the success story it is.
They have such an interesting variety of plants, particularly herbs and heirloom vegetables. Think cinnamon basil, Persian basil and enough different mints (after dinner mint, chocolate tasting mint etc) for the most discerning gourmet cook. We spied stevia, arnica and all sorts of other interesting herbs.
But of course it isn’t all herbs and vegetables, they have a good range of natives, berries, ornamentals and roses. They do a ton of propagating from seed and cuttings but also buy in some plants and grow them on. They have mother plants that they nourish and look after from which they propagate soft cuttings. They use no chemicals or sprays apart from some natural pyrethrum from time to time.
The nursery spans quite a large area with multiple out buildings and glass houses which were constructed by students back in 2001 when the programme started up.
They supply all the bedding plants for gardener, Barry Brydie for the rest homes owned and operated by PSO. The students and youth workers go and help with the planting out of these.
They also supply the DCC with all the plants for new citizens - a beautiful kowhai. There can be as many as 30-40 of these per month.
Long service staff members at PSS also get a plant at 5, 10 and 15 years of service and yes, you guessed it, YouthGrow provide all of these.
The OFM owe a debt of gratitude to YouthGrow for taking all our copmpostable waste from the market for over 3 years and shredding it before converting it to compost. They take the coffee grounds form Good Earth café and build all their own potting mixes.
This is such a hands on programme with several of the graduates over the years becoming apprentices at the botanical gardens and others finding work around the area in horticulture.
All plants are tagged with their name in both English and where appropriate, Maori.
Murray is a font of gardening knowledge and readily and willingly shares his expertise.