The issue of food resilience has been discussed often in permaculture circles. We talk about the need for not just sustainable but regenerative agriculture, cultures that are permanent and communities that work together to achieve some form of network that can sustain life through a food crisis or major event.
Christchurch, New Zealand, among other global locations, has had one of those events. It is through the rebuilding of these communities that we have seen some big shifts in people coming together and standing strong in unity. When Lyttleton near Christchurch was cut off due to the earthquake, one of the realisations was that food shortage and availability was a major issue. Out of that, among other projects, is the focus on creating a food resilient harbour basin.
Part of that project is long time New Zealand Permaculture educator, Robina McCurdy from the charitable trust, Earthcare Education Aotearoa.
This summer Robina sets off to cover the length of New Zealand to bring the ‘Localising Food’ Tour out to the communities. With a small volunteer team of Helen Tulett, Jon Foote, Kahu Geor and Birgit Baader, the tour intends to mobilise communities for food self-reliance. They’ll share inspiration and ideas from a multitude of exciting local food initiatives as well as offer a series of interactive, fun and informative workshops to develop local food resilience action plans in each area visited.
Strategies include a multi-tiered permaculture design for a bioregion, linking home gardens, neighbourhoods and farms through food production zoning, and piggy-backing existing social networks (e.g. sports clubs, playcentres, service groups) with a food system function, such as a rugby club owning their own herd of cattle, managed by a farmer, using a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model.
To increase awareness about rapidly changing legal rights and responsibilities around food production and distribution, the tour team will present up-to-date information and facilitate discussion to bring to life legislation such as the Food Bill, National Animal Identification Bill, and relevant updated aspects of the Resource Management Act, mentored by MP Stefan Browning.
Communities at each stop can also choose whichever of the twelve mini workshops on offer would be of greatest benefit to them. These hands-on practicals will ensure that locals get the skills and know-how they need to obtain a hearty, healthy harvest from available land.
Examples of workshops include:
- establishing a seed bank,
- starting a garden from scratch,
- wild food foraging and,
- schools as food security hubs.
At the end of the tour the best material recorded in each workshop theme will be edited as a tutorial video for public use. At each event, heirloom and home-saved seeds will be exchanged, hand processing food equipment demonstrated and enduring handtools displayed.
In every area we’ll document success stories of local community-based food systems unearthed by Robina during her sustainability educational work around the country. Some of you may have come across those featured in Organic NZ, and many more are unknown outside of their local area. To accelerate local food momentum, the team will produce a comprehensive DVD, plus twelve supplementary ones, covering such themes as food processing cooperatives, gleaning clubs, seed exchanges/banks and CSAs.
Exciting initiatives that viewers will be able to virtual-visit, include the Food Swap (Matakana), Harvest Festival (Riverton), the Great Plum Drive (Waiheke Island), Village Milk (Golden Bay), Aunties Garden (Hastings), the Food Club (Motueka), Innermost Gardens (Wellington) and Open Orchards (Nelson).
The team has a commitment to future organic growers and local food activists. They have some brilliant viable ideas for local coordinators on how to engage children and young people in the hands-on workshops and strategic localising food planning.
- South Island (excluding top of the South): 7 areas — October 29th – December 16th, 2012
- Top of the South (Motueka, Golden Bay, Nelson): 3 areas — January 6th – 27th, 2013
- North Island: 14 areas — March 4th – 9th June, 2013
Supporting The Tour
The tour will cover most areas of New Zealand, with a week in each giving presentations, teaching workshops and documenting. For the purpose of documentation effectiveness and efficiency, the areas selected are those which already have one or more functioning local food initiatives.
Because this project is both a pro-active solutions-based initiative at a national scale, not a local level patch-up, prop-up project for less fortunate people, it is out of range for most New Zealand funders.
A personalised approach to funding is therefore required.
We are therefore appealing to all those who can, to support us to complete this tour via a campaign launched on ‘We The Trees’ crowd funding site. The campaign can be viewed at this link.
Contact can be made to the National Co-ordinator on: localisefood (at) gmail.com
More information can be found at: https://localisingfood.weebly.com
Thanks in advance for your support!
Jon Foote and team.