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New passion, new business for busy Bee


A new baby and a nephew with learning challenges were two of the motivations for Leslie Louise Bishop (Bee) to delve into the world of gardening.

The passion has led her to help establish a garden at St Peter Chanel School, and a community garden on her mother’s land from which fresh produce goes free to people in the community. She’s currently negotiating with Kāpiti Coast District Council to start a community garden near the playground at Haruātai Park.

Bee Bishop at her garden plot where she propogates and grows herbs, fruit and vegetables for the community.

Photo Ōtaki Today

The journey began when Bee got a job as support staff at St Peter Chanel a couple of years ago. She was part of the newly introduced takiwatanga (autism) programme.

“I found myself working with children of all ages, and having a particular soft spot for the kids that struggled to engage with their mahi,” she says. “One of the tauira [students] was my nephew, Archie.”

On impulse, one day she bought some seedlings for Archie. Together they set to work at the school pulling weeds, digging and planting.

“I didn’t know anything about gardening, but I had Google to assist me. As Archie worked, I watched the troubles and worry melt off his face. There was nothing in the world but him and the garden . . . and I realised I wanted that for myself, too.”

Other students came to investigate and gardening soon became a two-term learning experience for all of them.

“The benefits were enormous, and not just in terms of education. The children became genuinely curious about the taiao [natural world] around them.”

After leaving the school, Bee became pregnant with her second child, Rangianiwaniwa. During her daughter’s infant stages, Bee used her spare time to learn online everything she could about sustainable gardening – different styles and methods, soil health, composting, companion planting, plant care, and much more.

Within a year of Rangianiwaniwa’s birth, Bee began her first winter garden.

“There were many fails,” she admits.

However, she soon developed an online presence, documenting her garden journey on TikTok. Before long she had a circle of close connections. She began helping other people start gardens, which turned into free garden consultations. That soon turned into a largely online business.

The business, A Lil Bee, now has several revenue streams, including online and in-person consultations, digital learning resources, gardening services and materials. She propagates seedlings sells them locally. She has even developed natural skincare products, mainly for the treatment of skin conditions such as exzema. 

All the money she earns goes towards designing, installing and maintaining edible gardens and fruit trees in schools and the community.

Bee is about to start back at St Peter Chanel, where she was inspired to embark on her gardening mission, but sadly without Archie, who died in 2022.

“I’m going to fix my Archie’s garden up as a dedication to his memory and have it blessed, just for him.”

For more information, go online to:

New passion, new business for busy Bee



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