Garden enthusiast Sara Hamilton would love nothing more than to see her community taking pride in their environment and living a sustainable lifestyle.
Ms Hamilton has won a $5000 AMP regional scholarship that she will use to aid her dream of creating a community that can feed itself from its backyard gardens.
"My [Grow for Life and Love] project started as volunteer work, getting tamariki involved and taking ownership [of their environment] and now, hopefully trickling that back into the community."
This project became a major focus for Ms Hamilton in 2014 when she began working with Totara Grove School, between Kamo and Tikipunga, as a volunteer and used her love of gardening to instil environmental pride in the young children of the community.
She is now employed 10 hours a week by the school; however she volunteers much more time in the project she is so passionate about, and describes her work with Totara Grove School as "a launching pad" for what she hopes to achieve in the community in the future.
When initiating her project and acting on her passion for sustainable living, Ms Hamilton asked herself, "What can I do to get people proud of our environment? How can I make a positive impact?"
As a lifelong gardener she believes there are serious benefits to caring for a garden and living a sustainable lifestyle, which she is hoping to communicate to her community through her Grow for Life and Love project.
"It reminds us that we can do something positive that is easy and affordable."
Ms Hamilton said the students of Totara Grove School are enthused about the gardens and proud of what they can achieve.
Although her focus is on the gardens of Totara Grove School, she would love to see this project extend into the community and wants others to reap the rewards of planting a home garden.
Her next step is to create a "food forest and resource centre" in Tikipunga, where she will offer tools, seedlings, information and all means necessary to create a home garden at no expense to the community. She hopes to fund this through donations from the community, businesses and, of course, her own resources which will include the $5000 grant.
Providing the resources necessary to create a home garden to families in the community is something she can start to achieve from her own backyard.
"It's about starting small and trying to get traction."
Ms Hamilton said the grant will go far if she uses it wisely. Her budget is "limited" so the grant will make an absolute difference because it will cover the basic costs of the project.
With the goal of creating a 100 per cent charitable trust in the future, Ms Hamilton said the $5000 is exactly what's needed to take her project and dream to the next level.