Breaking new ground with food initiatives
‘‘The vision is local people harvesting local trees’’ Brian Way PNCC leisure assets officer
Edible planting in public spaces is a growing international trend. As part of its quest to become ‘‘a leading city in environmental sustainability’’, Palmerston North City Council is doing its part in helping community-grown food initiatives break new ground.
In addition to increasing numbers of community gardens, permanent food plantings can now be found throughout PNCC reserves.
Brian Way, PNCC’s leisure assets officer, says there are feijoas, lemons, nut trees, and others tucked away throughout the city and surrounding villages. The aim is to have many small, accessible plantings.
‘‘The vision,’’ Brian says ‘‘is local people harvesting local trees.’’
The council also funds and supports community groups who want to plant apples, pears, stone fruit, and other trees that require more maintenance. In these cases, PNCC asks for a long-term community commitment to pruning and general care. Orchard partnerships are already in place with several kindergartens, and Ashhurst’s RECAP.
PNCC has confirmed funding for edible plantings in its recently released 10-year plan. There’s room for new involvement. In addition to orchards and gardens, Brian would love to see new types of edibles such as blueberries or raspberries.
Community access though, is essential. Plantings can be in a reserve adjacent to a playcentre or kindergarten for example, but not behind a fence. Reserves are multi-purpose spaces, and mowing requirements need to be considered.
These requirements do create some challenges for groups wishing to establish more complex public plantings - food forests for instance, which typically combine fruit and nut trees of varying heights, berries, vegetables, and herbs; and even vertical climbers such as passionfruit.
Any group wanting a public food forest would need to manage its establishment and maintenance.
Established community groups wanting to discuss the possibilities for any sort of edible reserve planting should contact Brian at PNCC, 356 8199.
RECAP (The Society for the Resilience and Engagement of the Community of Ashhurst and Pohangina) volunteers Jenny Brown and Aaron Roberts prune a pear tree, donated by Jenny Olsson to Ashhurst’s PNCCsupported Olsson Orchard, named in honour of Jenny’s late husband Noel.