Things to do  |  5 Nov 2019

Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens will play host to an innovative, homegrown garden festival for three days in March.

The festival, Grow Ō Tautahi, is being organised by the Christchurch Garden Festival Trust to showcase the region’s love of gardens, design and outdoor living, and to stimulate discussion about gardening, food resilience, sustainability and healthy eating.

The festival will run from 20 to 22 March and organisers are hoping to draw a crowd of about 25,000 people. Entry will be free.

“Visitors will be able to sample locally sourced food prepared by celebrity chefs, explore cutting edge landscape design displays, participate in workshops and masterclasses, learn about food science, experience gardening through the eyes of local school children and generally revel is all that’s new, sustainable, innovative and fun in gardening and food sourcing,’’ says festival director Sandi MacRae.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel says it’s fantastic for Christchurch to introduce a homegrown festival that is locally developed, locally focused and one with which Christchurch and Canterbury residents can feel a strong connection.

 “At our heart, we will always be New Zealand’s Garden City. But what that means in the 21st century is quite different to what it meant in the past. When I was growing up it was all about the flowers, trees and parks – the cherry blossoms and daffodils.

"It is still all of that, but it is also about things that matter for our future: ecology, sustainability, clean rivers, environmental protection and food resilience. A festival that celebrates all of these is exactly what we need to reignite that sense of possibility for a sustainable future,'' Mayor Dalziel says.

Ms MacRae says Grow Ō Tautahi will be unlike anything done before.

“We’ve reached out to the community and the industry to find out what they want out of a garden festival and incorporated that into the event. We’ve also looked hard at what has worked in the past and what hasn’t to make sure we deliver a local festival that makes the Garden City proud.

“We’ve got fantastic partners who bring creativity and innovation to the festival. Presenting partner Lincoln University will lead discussions on science and sustainability, while our ambassadors, celebrity chef Jax Hamilton, interior designer Julia Atkinson-Dunn, award-winning garden designer Dan Rutherford and AgResearch scientist Dr Trevor Stuthridge will all share their specialist knowledge,’’ Ms MacRae says.

Botanic Gardens Director Wolfgang Bopp  is delighted that Grow Ō Tautahi is going to be staged at the Botanic Gardens.

"Growing our city is what this event is all about and where better to do so than in our very own Botanic Gardens,'' Mr Bopp says. 

Grow Ō Tautahi is being funded through sponsorship from a range of Canterbury businesses and grant funding from Christchurch City Council’s events fund ($15,000) and its Innovation and Sustainability Fund ($30,000).