Break­ing new ground with food ini­tia­tives

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENVIRONMENT - SHARON STEVENS, ENM

‘‘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.

PHOTO: SHARON STEVENS/SUPPLIED

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.

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