Food is a basic necessity of life, but unlike other generations we have outsourced food production to industry and as a result we have poor diets, lost skills of food production and preparation and made our communities highly vulnerable to international economic fluctuations.
Little Eden’s is a project to create high-yield urban gardens across our city. It is based on a system used and developed by Peter Johns, who runs the system at his own home plus has also done so on a large scale for the Salvation Army in Whangarei.
We have identified the provision of healthy, affordable food as being an essential need that in many cases is not being met in our city. Little Eden’s aims to reduce the barriers to local healthy food production by providing help, resources and expertise to those who desire to grow their own food at low cost, putting food production within the reach of everyone. The system allows organic, bio-diverse small-scale urban production to be both highly economical and time-efficient.
This is the pilot project and the initial objective is to assist everyone within the HUB who desires a micro-garden to have one. This will then be opened up on a wider scale, however the aim to is maintain a relational, community-based structure. Part of the initial project will also be to support our own food basket program overseen by Katrina Andrew and other community support organisations as we are able.
As of June 2014 we now have gardens at 3 sites.
• A team of people gather to construct the garden (helping each other)
• Gardens are built on a standard template, 1m wide by 2-5m long (depending on space available)
• Area is identified and dug out, then concrete boxing form is laid out
• Concrete is mixed on site by hand and boxing is filled
• When concrete firm boxing removed and edges finished
• Prepared soil and compost added
• Irrigation pipes and heads hooked up and tested
• Hoops and curtains added
• Planted with seedlings or seed tapes at 100mm intervals
We see the benefits of setting up urban gardens for fresh food production as:
• Healthier eating habits
• Community networking
• Gathering and passing on skills to further generations
• Mental/emotional wellbeing
• Environmental benefits
• Financial savings
• Potential job creation
Initial funding is by donation. The initial cost of materials in bulk to build the first few gardens will be around $3000. This has been received and giving is ongoing. Donations are made through the HUB “Spoke” account and tracked so that reporting of income and costs may be made. These donations qualify for tax exempt status as the HUB is a registered charity and this falls specifically within the Objects of the Trust Deed namely:
(iii) To facilitate and encourage concern for the relational, social, economic, psychological, physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the community;
(iv) To assist others engaged in charitable work in the community, both financially and non-financially;
Further donations may be made by those using the system (either as a contribution up-front or an on-going amount based on what they would have had to pay for the food themselves) but this is not mandatory and depends on personal circumstances. Those who cannot assist financially may wish to invest back into the system by helping others with their gardens (this is an important part of the community-healing component of the program). Donations will be tracked through our accounting software and receipts will be issued annually or on request. The finance is overseen by Clive McKegg with reporting to the other trustees.
We see that this concept could be expanded to:
• A community kitchen (commercial grade) where people could meet and preserve or process their vegetables or fruit either for themselves, to give away or commercially as a micro-enterprise
• A similar concept for keeping hens and producing eggs in an urban environment
• Running classes and producing videos on how to prepare and cook home-grown food (Charlotte Hawkins, Nikki Smith)
• Group working-days to help each other set up, harvest, restart garden or preserve produce (monthly or closer as required)
• Spinning off micro-enterprises – concrete rain-water tanks, grey-water recycling, seaweed fertiliser production, hen houses, solar energy set-up etc
Anyone interested in supporting, being part of a garden-making day or having a plot of their own please get in touch.