Golden Bay the sus­tain­abil­ity cap­i­tal?

The Leader (Nelson) - - FRONT PAGE -

Could Golden Bay brand it­self as a ‘‘sus­tain­abil­ity cap­i­tal’’ of New Zealand?

This is a ques­tion some in the com­mu­nity have been toy­ing with.

Whether it’s sus­tain­able farm­ing, al­ter­na­tive power, cafes grow­ing and com­post­ing their own food, or ed­i­ble gar­dens at schools – there’s cer­tainly no short­age of de­voted in­di­vid­u­als and groups ded­i­cated to sus­tain­able prac­tices.

Agri­cul­ture min­is­ter and West Coast-Tas­man MP, Damien O’Con­nor, thinks the area is per­fectly lo­cated and fo­cused to take a brand­ing ini­tia­tive a step fur­ther.

A ‘‘Sus­tain­able Golden Bay’’ brand would ’’se­cure the fu­ture’’ as a food pro­duc­ing area, he said.

With its wide aware­ness of en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, spec­tac­u­lar back­drop of na­tional parks and aquatic en­vi­ron­ments, O’Con­nor said the well-ed­u­cated and in­ter­na­tion­ally-fo­cused pop­u­la­tion would buy into such an eco­nomic ven­ture.

‘‘The re­cent dis­cus­sion around se­cur­ing the wa­ter qual­ity is a pos­i­tive move, you have some in­no­va­tive small-food pro­duc­ers, and I be­lieve there’s po­ten­tial to do more with the dairy pro­duc­tion.

‘‘There’s a his­tory and ca­pa­bil­ity around dairy man­u­fac­tur­ing that could be built-on to form a core com­po­nent of this sus­tain­abil­ity ex­er­cise, aqua­cul­ture is also a huge po­ten­tial for pos­i­tive brand­ing and sto­ry­telling.’’

With min­i­mal ad­just­ments, O’Con­nor said Golden Bay could meet the high stan­dards of in­ter­na­tional con­sumer ex­pec­ta­tion.

‘‘The com­po­nents are all there, it just re­quires some lead­er­ship and struc­tures to cap­i­talise on the op­por­tu­nity.’’

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers provin­cial pres­i­dent, Wayne Lang­ford, said he sup­ported all con­ver­sa­tions around sus­tain­abil­ity.

But there was con­cern among farm­ers around the brand­ing with any pri­vati­sa­tion of the Golden Bay dairy in­dus­try.

‘‘If Golden Bay was to be its own or­ganic dairy fac­tory, for ex­am­ple, we then started com­pet­ing with Fon­terra on or­ganic milk, but there’s not enough of an or­ganic mar­ket for us to re­ceive enough of a pre­mium.’’

Lang­ford, who switched to 100 per cent bi­o­log­i­cal farm­ing two years ago, said there was a ‘‘beau­ti­ful gen­er­a­tional shift’’ of farm­ers in Golden Bay.

‘‘There’s a lot of peo­ple de­cid­ing how they want to farm and how they want to leave their mark. It’s more peo­ple try­ing dif­fer­ent farm­ing prac­tises, whether it be once-a-day milk­ing; bi­o­log­i­cal farm­ing; some farms go­ing back to self-con­tained farms; and then dif­fer­ent fertiliser regimes.’’

‘‘We will start to see more of that as the new gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers come through, par­tic­u­larly in Golden Bay, be­cause we grew up with is quite dif­fer­ent than what our par­ents and grand­par­ents grew up with.’’

Golden Bay Or­ganic Com­mu­nity Gar­dens man­ager, Sol Mor­gan, also be­lieves a brand could work, but sees more po­ten­tial than just the pri­mary in­dus­tries.

The com­mu­nity gar­dens were the sec­ond-ever to be de­vel­oped in New Zealand, and to this day re­main the largest. It is a hub of the com­mu­nity and is used daily for a mul­ti­tude of pur­poses.

The gar­dens trust, Te Whar­erangi, is in the process of re­brand­ing it­self as a ‘‘Sus­tain­able Liv­ing Cen­tre’’ and is cur­rently de­vel­op­ing a 10-week sus­tain­able liv­ing course.

It would take up to 20 stu­dents from all over the world, and would utilise the sus­tain­able skills and prac­tices of the com­mu­nity.

The trust also held the 2-day Golden Bay Sus­tain­able Event last year, which fea­tures a va­ri­ety of work­shops and dis­cus­sions.

‘‘We are ba­si­cally see­ing Golden Bay as an ideal place for this,’’ said Mor­gan.

‘‘We feel we could be a cen­tre for sus­tain­abil­ity, be­cause so much of what we are do­ing and dis­cussing is al­ready about sus­tain­abil­ity.’’

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