Golden Bay the sustainability capital?
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.’’