Richard has announced his intention to start his retirement in December 2023 after 14 amazing years with Diabetes Foundation Aotearoa. This means that the November Gardens4Health gathering, this one to be held at the Auckland Botanical Gardens next week, will be the last he attends as Project Manager for Gardens4health.
Richard came to our organisation from Counties Manukau DHB back in 2008. This was part of a plan to ensure growth and sustainability for the community gardening pilot he had set up for their ground-breaking Lets Beat Diabetes (LBD) programme. Richard worked with our team and the pilot developed into the Gardens4Health programme. This was rolled out across Tamaki Makaurau and went from strength to strength over the subsequent years.
Richard and his team have helped hundreds of community groups across the isthmus to plan, set up and/or develop and maintain food gardening enterprises. His particular passion has been doing this using organic principles, avoiding causing harm and where possible repairing environments damaged through the use of toxic chemicals so prevalent in food gardening. Many can thank him for the development of their knowledge and skills, including those of us in the Otara office who view his gardening and community know-how with awe.
Community and home food gardening have never been more important than now. Lifestyle related diseases such as diabetes continue to rise, as does the cost of living. It is increasingly expensive to put food on the table, let alone healthy food, and fresh fruit and vegetables are the healthiest of all. Additionally, in recent times there has been the recognition that being able to produce our own food when the supply chains are damaged, is a vital part of the resilience of a healthy city... community gardens to the rescue. And not to forget some of the additional benefits food gardening brings, such as improved mental health, increased physical activity, bringing people together, beautification of the environment, money saving, protecting biodiversity, plus the community garden has been shown to have a part to play where climate change and adverse weather events, including flooding, are concerned, helping protect soil and soak up or manage excess water.
Richard has worked with and trained a number of amazing people as facilitators to work with him in Gardens4Health over the years, some of whom have gone on to other roles but continue to stay in touch. Richard is leaving the programme as strong as it has ever been in the safe hands of facilitators Hari and Tanya while we recruit for a new lead.
So after 14 years, we will be very, very sorry to see you go Richard. And while there are sure to be many out in the community who will be surprised by this news, few could argue that if anyone deserves retirement and the opportunity to do their OWN gardening (not everyone else's), it is you Richard. We thank you for your incredible mahi over the years, wish you and your whanau all the absolute best, and may there be many happy gardening years ahead!
Anyone wanting to leave a comment for Richard, go to our Facebook page.