The free soil bringing people together

May 14, 2024

The free soil bringing people together

Amanda Browne, owner of City Jungle, using her potting station on the first Free Soil Saturday. PHOTO: Bella Ireland

Free soil and planter pots were on offer to enthusiasts wanting to repot their plants - which can be tricky for some living in Auckland's CBD.

The first Free Soil Saturday saw around 10 people coming into the shop which has started the venture, hailing it a success.

“They were all new customers, apart from one girl who comes in regularly. It was great,” says Amanda Browne, owner of City Jungle which says it is 'Heart of the City's first plant shop'.

She says it seems especially useful for the city centre dwellers.

“Someone that came in and told me about seeing a guy on Queen Street with a little bit of tarpaulin and soil repotting his plants at night time because he didn’t want to be shamed during the day… it was 11 at night, he was out potting his plants on the street!

“In the CBD there’s nowhere that really sells soil, so I thought ok well what can we do," she says.

Viv Beck, chief executive of city centre business association Heart of the City says “This is a great initiative from Amanda at City Jungle."

"There’s nearly 40,000 residents living in the city centre. Having a place to re-pot a plant and meet a neighbour at the same time is a good way to help build connections with others.

“We know through our own research that events and activities help contribute to a sense of community so things like Free Soil Saturday is definitely a positive way of achieving this,” Beck added.

Another reason for Browne starting the event was moving her store to Fort St two months ago from Customs St where she had more foot traffic.

"They'd just pop in and say hello or go over to Britomart market and come back … that community feel is nice.”

One customer would often bring in coffee for her, for which she traded back an old orchid plant.

Many customers heard about her event through platforms that surprised Browne, such as the Heart of the City Auckland website.

Now she hopes it will grow over time.

“Next time we can put out my coffee machine, people can make themselves coffees and if heaps more people come, we might have to put up a trestle table!"

Free Soil Saturday will continue to take place on the last Saturday of each month.

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