After winning his first-ever certificate, tenant Jim is planning for his next Edible Garden Awards victory.
Before the Edible Garden Awards, Jim had gone his whole life without ever receiving a certificate.
That was, he cautioned with a sly chuckle, excluding the marriage certificate he shares with wife May.
"Even when I was at school I only went there to eat my lunch, my old man reckoned,” Jim said, laughing.
That was before his Housing New Zealand Tenancy Manager, Trish, sprung the garden awards on the couple.
She and fellow Tenancy Manager Vicki had been encouraging several of their tenants to get involved in the awards, run by the Papanui-Innes Community Board in Christchurch.
Trish recalled previous visits to Jim and May’s home, where she’d seen tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and peppers growing in the garden.
Jim had been a home gardener since he was a boy, learning a few tricks from his father. He had grown veges since, in a previous home once producing lettuces so big that “I had to cut them with the chainsaw”.
Trish pulled out a camera and took some shots of Jim and May’s garden. Soon after, judges were visiting and examining the work the couple had done and, eventually, they were invited to an award ceremony. The rest is history.
Jim is keen to get involved in the next round of the garden awards, coming up in summer, and hopes sharing his story might encourage others to do the same.
He is already preparing for the next round, growing caulis, leeks, silverbeet, broccoli and carrots. He makes his own “home brew” fertiliser and a lemon tree covered with plump fruit is his “pride and joy”.
Growing vegetables is a way to provide healthy meal options for your family, and for Jim and May it’s fun and provides a sense of achievement.
He also takes pleasure out of giving veges away. Each time Trish visits, Jim and May find a way to make sure she doesn’t leave empty-handed.
The couple have given vegetables to neighbours and, more than once, have invited people back to theirs from the supermarket after recognising a stranger’s look of concern at a particular price tag.
For Trish, Jim and May are a shining example of why she works as a Tenancy Manager.
“They are what makes this job fun,” she said.
“They are amazing tenants so seeing them recognised and awarded for the work they put in at their home is really special. I’m really looking forward to the next Edible Garden Awards.”
Garden awards are also run by the Linwood-Central-Heathcote and Spreydon-Cashmere community boards. More information can be found on the Christchurch City Council's website.