Big plans for Epuni factory
A community kitchen feeding 2500 people a day is the ambitious plan of a Lower Hutt group that has taken over an old plaster factory.
Common Unity Project Aotearoa is turning the Epuni factory in to a ‘‘social enterprise business incubator’’, providing struggling families with food and other services.
Spokeswoman Julia Milne said a lack of money was the biggest barrier many people faced in their daily lives. The Remakery was about finding new ways for people to feed themselves and to help them participate in society.
Milne and a band of volunteers have spent three months converting the factory, which dates back to 1943, into a hub featuring 18 enterprises including the Common Grocer. Members pay $1 a week to gain access to nutritious food at reasonable prices from the food co-op.
Milne has high hopes for their community kitchen.
‘‘Our next mission is to build an off-grid production kitchen that will be a community-run facility to produce 2500 meals per day, all from locally grown food.’’
The kitchen would feed local
The UnityKitchen – Community kitchen providing meals to local people. The Tiny Whare Collective – Small off-grid homes built from unused wood and building supplies. SewGood Sewing Cooperative – Plastic-free living, made from old corporate uniforms and recycled textiles. ReCycled Rides – Recycling bikes from the landfill. The ReStore – Re-using old wood for furniture. UrbanKaiNetwork – Developing local employment by teaching intensive urban agriculture. schools, community groups and anyone needing a meal, she said.
Remakery is partnering with Housing New Zealand, Rimutaka Prison and the Epuni youth justice facility to develop urban farms to supply the kitchen.
Other projects include a small cinema, a textile library, recycling bikes and a base for the Honey Collective, which supports beekeeping throughout the Hutt Valley.
Epuni resident Rochelle Browne has been making functional and fashionable baby bibs as part of the Sew Good Sewing Co-op, and recently completed barista training with Coffee Supreme, which has donated a coffee machine and coffee beans to the koha cafe.
‘‘It’s such a welcoming place, where your background isn’t important, it’s just a great place to develop skills and meet people,’’ Browne said.
Milne hopes the factory will build on the success of the Epuni Primary School garden and food production project, which was the Supreme Winner in the 2014 Wel- lington Airport Regional Community Awards.
Her dream is to build a society where everybody is prosperous and self-sufficient.
The Remakery has been given use of the factory by KindyCare, which has long-term plans to develop the site.
Profits will be invested in to the development of food projects and local urban agriculture.
The official opening, at 310 Waiwhetu Rd, is on Sunday September 3 at 9am. Tours and free workshops throughout the day.