Grow­ing food and grow­ing com­mu­nity

Northern Outlook - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - EMMA DANGERFIELD

The North Can­ter­bury town­ship of Ka­iapoi is not afraid of set­ting the bar. It was the first place in New Zealand to in­tro­duce field hockey, the first town to em­brace the scout­ing move­ment, and now it is home to the first food for­est in the Waimakariri.

Not only that but the land it is on is the red zone, en­com­pass­ing streets and gar­dens 578 fam­i­lies called home be­fore the earth­quakes.

The Ka­iapoi Re­gen­er­a­tion Steer­ing Com­mit­tee, es­tab­lished ear­lier this year, in con­junc­tion with the Ka­iapoi Food For­est Trust, have planned the food for­est in or­der to bring the com­mu­nity back to­gether, mak­ing a space which can be used by any­one from pre-schools to fam­i­lies, from for­agers to yoga groups.

Ka­iapoi res­i­dents Brent Cairns and his wife Shirley are lead­ing the work, and with the help of some im­pres­sive ma­chin­ery and Treetech ar­borists last week, moved 17 fruit trees from their orig­i­nal po­si­tions into the food for­est area.

The trees, in­clud­ing cherry, nec­tarine, plum, peach, bay leaf and crab ap­ple, will now be used to feed fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, but more than that, will leave a last­ing legacy for those fam­i­lies who were dis­placed, Cairns said.

‘‘We are ef­fec­tively re­pur­pos­ing these trees. One tree that fed one fam­ily will now feed the com­mu­nity. It’s like a lit­tle piece of memo­rial, so the fam­i­lies won’t be for­got­ten.’’

Ed­u­ca­tion will also be an im­por­tant as­pect of the for­est, which will be planted in such a way that there will be no pes­ti­cides or sprays re­quired, and there will be shel­tered ar­eas cre­ated with art, funky seat­ing and tac­tile pic­nic ar­eas suit­able to all ages and abil­i­ties.

‘‘The idea is that you might plant gar­lic un­der a tree, or kawakawa, to keep the bugs away, and of course you can eat those crops too.

‘‘It is also some­thing peo­ple will be able to cre­ate on a smaller scale in their own back yard.’’

Cairns said the con­cept was akin to the proverb, ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for the day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life­time’.

Es­tab­lish­ing a food for­est was a pop­u­lar re­quest dur­ing the com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion phase of de­vel­op­ing the Waimakariri Re­cov­ery Plan which was why he was so en­thu­si­as­tic about the project.

‘‘Not only are we go­ing to be bring­ing the com­mu­nity to­gether, we will be build­ing re­silience and sustainability, ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple about how to plant and grow food, how to recog­nise plants and know when fruit is ripe.’’

An open day at the site, on the cor­ner of Cass and Meadow Sts, is planned for Septem­ber 16 from 10am to which the com­mu­nity is warmly in­vited.

Bring a spade, gum­boots, pic­nic, news­pa­pers, com­post and mulch. To find out more, visit Food For­est Ka­iapoi - kai is in our name, on Face­book.

EMMA DANGERFIELD/STUFF

Plan­ning for the Ka­iapoi Food For­est is in full swing with 17 fruit trees moved to their new po­si­tions thanks to a team of ar­borists from Treetech.

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