Chamomile is a perennial favourite at Ashley & Co, so when we arrived at OMG and ran our hands through a fresh cluster of the crop, we were overwhelmed by the heady scent. Head gardener Levi Brinsdon-Hall let us know that the varietal was German Chamomile, rather than the Roman species most commonly known. It was a still, clear morning, before the sun hit the crop directly and the aroma was deep and sweet; the plant’s happy flowers filled with spring optimism.
OMG stands for Organic Market Garden. On what was a vacant urban plot, Levi and his army of volunteers have created a city farm. Levi knows his plants and here on this sloping 600m2 section he produces an abundance of seasonal vegetables, herbs and flowers, surrounded by the hum of traffic and an iconic, urban backdrop of graffiti, roads, retail and apartment buildings.
The OMG site is owned by City Rail Link. Now that the rubble and rubbish has been removed, the soil turned and regenerated, it’s in full swing for summer. It has taken many a working bee to get this far, yet these days the plot is loaded with quickly maturing vegetables ready to be harvested for local restaurants and carefully curated into weekly vege boxes. For a mere $25 a box, you can receive a collection of seasonal vegetables, so vibrant and full of flavour. The freshness is something that needs to be tasted to be believed, with veges having been plucked just hours earlier.
Guided by principals of Kaitiakitanga, OMG is an example of a sustainable and regenerative food system in our increasingly busy city. Levi and his team (including the lovely Estelle, pictured) embrace biodynamic principals in the garden. Plants are grown densely and with careful consideration of their compatibility; there might be 3 or 4 different veges and herbs sharing a row, each growing in beautiful, dynamic synergy. OMG is also an open teaching hub, inspiring local residents, businesses and communities to learn new concepts and gain practical skills on how to grow nutrient-dense food by using organic and biodynamic principles.
If you’re short on space, grow microgreens in trays. Nutrient dense and delicious.
Nothing cleans better after a morning in the garden than Mortar & Pestle, now pumping at OMG Garden.
With the scent of chamomile still on our hands and a love of nature in our hearts, we headed off. Inspired to nurture our own plots, we’re going to adopt some of OMG’s practical, effective gardening principles. Should you want to do the same, here are a few tips below. One thing’s for sure, it’s time to grow some chamomile.
Levi’s tips for urban gardening:
• Plant different plants together and arrange them densely. Tomatoes can be paired well with basil and celery.
• Grow radishes in rows divided by lengths of bamboo and with earth loaded with sand (they like free draining soil). On either side you can sow carrots.
• Use the walls you have as they create not only support, but thermal mass that helps retain heat. See OMG’s amazing wall of tomatoes.
• Keep plenty of flowers for the bees – easy seed-growing varieties include California Poppies, Borage, Sweet Peas and Corn Flowers.
• Save seed! Let a few plants flower and grow to seed. When the plant is completely dead and dry, empty seeds into a labelled envelope for future sowing.
• If you’re short on space, grow microgreens in trays. Nutrient dense and delicious, these greens can often be cut / regrown several times.
Happy flowers filled with spring optimism.
257E Symonds Street, Eden Terrace, Auckland 1010