Brendan's story

In my family, gardening has always been a big part of life. My parents tell me that by the time I was two, I was already helping in the family garden. Although, looking at the photos, my impression is that I was more just playing in and eating the dirt. By the time my family moved to Northland in 2010, I was a bit more helpful in the family garden. But I soon decided that I wanted a garden of my own, so I could grow the foods I liked to eat and grow them in more interesting ways. I really didn’t like the way my parents planted everything in straight lines.

When my family created a new garden in 2012 (I was seven then), I claimed one of the garden beds as my own, and I got to be my own boss, growing the food I wanted to grow in the ways I wanted to grow it. With this experience, I created a bigger garden the next year with the help of my friends.

Even though having my own, bigger garden was great, I was tired of having limits on which, and how many, veggies I could grow. When my family moved to a farm a few years ago, I saw the opportunity to have an even bigger garden! I found an old abandoned garden area that I could make all my own. Since I was now a little bit older and had some more experience, I knew I could make this garden how I wanted it to be. I enjoy growing climbing plants, like tomatoes and cucumbers, because they grow in such interesting ways. It is fun making structures for them to climb on and then watch them grow and help them along when they need it.

So, over the last two years, I have created the “Jungle Garden,” again with help from others. As my family are part of a local gardening internship programme for young people traveling to New Zealand, I arranged for some of the interns to help in my garden as well. Today, my garden feeds family and friends with the vegetables and some fruits that grow well in our summer months, and I hope they all like them as much as I do!

Growing only food I like to eat is great, and I’ve come to realise that the food I grow actually tastes a lot better than food we buy from the supermarket, and my mum keeps telling me it’s a lot better for me.