Emily Harris talks to reporter Rose Cawley about growing food. DAILY GRIND
For Emily Harris the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence.
The born and bred Southlander was living the corporate life as a judges’ clerk at the High Court in Auckland but she tossed it all in to start up Urban Pantry.
The organisation focuses on bringing communities together by growing edible gardens in the city.
‘‘I was reading a lot of stuff about what was happening in cities overseas with all these really interesting urban sustainability type initiatives,’’ she says.
‘‘I was left wondering why there wasn’t something similar happening in Auckland.’’
So the 29-year-old mucked in and started the first project which involved transforming a rooftop on High St in the central city.
‘‘We have done a whole bunch of different projects since then – we’ve worked with businesses to create edible garden installations, we’ve worked with communities around creating gardens and we’ve also done some event-based stuff.’’
She says the events have quickly become the focus and the latest, a Crowd Grown Feast, was the most exciting yet. The feast was a novel experience for 100 people who produced the ingredients for a dinner which was served up by Popdining at Silo Park.
‘‘It was a big adventure.
‘‘The growing of the food is important, the fact that something is produced and people get to use it,’’ she says.
‘‘But actually, the real core of it is bringing people together . . . they get to meet new people and learn skills that they can take home.’’
She says the transitional nature of Urban Pantry allows a number of people to get involved in the projects.
‘‘It’s also low commitment, one project at a time and you can be as involved as you want. It’s not like you are having to sign your Sundays away to a community garden but you still get that connection.’’
Harris says getting your hands dirty in the garden is a great interest to have at any stage in life.
‘‘When we were growing up my dad would always have a vege garden and I’d always help out with the weeding, picking peas and radishes,’’ she says.
‘‘I don’t think I picked up a huge amount of skill but it was there, and when I moved away from home I didn’t continue with gardening for a long time but it was there on the backburner.’’