Plans for local food growers network

It starts at home . . . Brodie Dodds is standing by to help the community grow together. PHOTO: NICK BROOK

Community movers are coming together to encourage rural resilience and local food security.

Warepa horticultural enthusiast Brodie Dodds has taken the initiative to share her skill set with free informal workshops at her property from 10am-12pm on February 10, 11 and 18 to encourage a local food growers network

‘‘The price of everything and food in particular just keeps going up,’’ Mrs Dodds said.

‘‘People are starting to understand how sensible it would be to grow their own food but many are daunted by not knowing where to start.

‘‘It’s still a tradition in some families, but food gardening used to be common to just about every household.

‘‘Our grandparents had a lot of that knowledge but maybe as lives got busier and food got cheaper, it seemed to stop getting passed down and now people are keen to re-learn it.’’

Mrs Dodds offered advice and comments on progress in her own extensive garden on her social media page Barefoot Kiwi Gardener, but felt it was time the practical, hands-on lifestyle came to life with a regular, active community group.

‘‘We’re offering the [introductions] out here in Kaihiki-Warepa but I can also be available to view properties and advise what to grow and where. People are busy and want low-maintenance. We can start with basics like potatoes and greens for calories and nutrients, with higher nourishment and fewer chemicals than what’s commercially produced, and in home-gardens that thrive on neglect.’’

Mrs Dodds, Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan and local organisations have begun informal conversations about the possibility of land in a central location being made available to produce food specifically for those most in need in the region.

‘‘Balclutha has a successful community garden using raised growing beds. We’re hoping to add another area at ground level where as well as producing fresh, healthy produce, people can learn skills to implement at home and build other support networks. Any suggestions about available land could really help the community.’’

Options to diversify from basic annual vegetables to perennial gardening, fruit trees and food forests would be included as more people with different knowledge joined in, leading to related crafts like food preservation.

Disastrous rain in the North Island has added further pressure to the national food supply, and Mrs Dodds believed first-hand experience would help urban Kiwis to better understand professional farmers while also contributing to New Zealand’s environmental goals.

‘‘I think the idea of sustainability means individuals taking more responsibility to provide the things they consume for themselves.

‘‘When people with that commitment co-operate it could easily extend beyond food to re-using clothes, furniture and anything useful to reduce waste . . . My garden’s very much a prototype for the easiest, cheapest methods but it definitely seems to be working and I’m looking for people to help share the benefits.’’