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.

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