Growing food and growing community
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.
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.