Sumner Community Garden

Kathryn Newberry, Suzie Kaschula and Hannah Gard in the new tunnel house.

Avid gardeners: Kathryn Newberry, Jane Paterson (Sumner Ferrymead Foundation) and Suzie Kaschula.

Every Tuesday morning local residents meet at the Sumner Community Garden to plant, cultivate and harvest produce. A small group of enthusiastic gardeners meet at Ko Taku Reo (formerly van Asch School for the Deaf where they work on a number of different gardens; there's the apple orchard, the food forest, the heritage fruit garden and the community garden. And as any gardener knows, it's not just growing produce that's important, it's the camaraderie that goes with gardening with others that adds to the enjoyment.

The Sumner Community Garden had inherited a tunnel house when it moved to the van Asch site after the earthquakes, but ten years on it was way past its use by date so the call went out for funds to buy a new one. They approached the Sumner Ferrymead Foundation for help because of the synergy between the two organisations: locals helping locals.

"We have had a diverse group of people who have worked with us over the years" said Kathryn Newbery of the Sumner Community Garden. "Whilst some of them are passionate gardeners others may have come along because they are new to the area and want to meet others, or they are recovering from an illness and find gardening is a great form of therapy. During lock down last year we had quite a few people from overseas who were staying with their families and were unable to travel home, so they too enjoyed coming down to help with the garden. Really it's about the people rather than the plants."

The Sumner Ferrymead Foundation was established in the early 90s to help locals achieve their dreams be it in education, the arts, environment, health, sport and recreation to name a few so supporting the Sumner Community Garden was a natural fit for the Foundation. Jane Paterson, a trustee of the Foundation, commented "Community gardens are a wonderful way to bring a community together, plus it's great to see surplus produce being given to the local community either through the 'plenty to share' table in Sumner Village or the 'ninja produce drops' where residents discover an unexpected bag of, say, tomatoes on their doorstep. We're always pleased when we can help local residents, and it's even better when they can pay it forward and help others too."

The Sumner Community Garden is keen to recognise those that help them so the Sumner Ferrymead Foundation logo will appear on the tunnel house. "We've had the occasional bequest too so we want to work out the best way to recognise those people" said Kathryn. "Raising money is always a challenge, so we really want to acknowledge those that help us".

And raising funds is not the only challenge the community garden faces; they want to future proof the garden by recruiting more locals who are prepared to regularly join them on Tuesday mornings. No prior gardening knowledge or experience is required, just a keen interest to learn and get involved. "We love sharing this little beautiful oasis in the heart of Sumner and welcome everyone of all ages and abilities; although if you were strong enough to dig and lift, so much the better" laughed Suzie Kaschula, who has been gardening at the community garden for 10 years.

If you are interested in working in the Sumner Community Garden, contact Kathryn at


  • Jane Paterson ..... 022 657 3206
  • Kathryn Newbery ..... 027 676 6100