Staff Profiles

Sophia Leon de la Barra is the Manager at Waitaki Community Gardens. With a background in Public Health, her aim is to help local community members improve their diets, learn how to grow their own food, and get active gardening. Sophia works with a number of local school garden clubs including Maheno, Totara, Hampden, and Glenavy. She also facilitates horticulture classes and work experience for students at St. Kevins and Waitaki Girls High School. Sophia also delivers short courses and workshops for adults to learn backyard gardening & sustainable living skills. Her experience in statistics and Results Based Accountability (RBA) and enabling the community gardens to evaluate their impact and deliver high-quality, hands-on learning programmes.


Bianca “Bee” MacNeill is the School Gardens’ Coordinator at Waitaki Community Gardens. With a background in organic gardening, music, education and theatre, she works with children at 8 local primary schools and 1 kindergarten to teach the basics of growing food, cooking, bees, worms, and compost. Her aim is to get more kids growing their own food at home, eating more veggies and trying new foods.


Ra McRostie is the Volunteer & Maintenance Coordinator at Waitaki Community Gardens.  She is responsible for volunteer working bees, as well as site maintenance at the main community gardens site on Chelmer Street, the Harbour Heritage Garden in the historic precinct, and the Oamaru Food Bank Garden on France Street. She coordinates the weekly veggie boxes, weekend workshops, and community events held at the community gardens. Ra is passionate about herbs, music, dance, finding laughter & joy in everyday life, and people getting their hands in the soil, especially as a community.