Thursday, 23 July 2009

WAITATI EDIBLE GARDENS column

WAITATI EDIBLE GARDENS

By Scott Willis

What a wealth of community groups we have in Waitati and Blueskin Bay.
Recently (10 June) I gave a presentation at the
Dunedin 'Pecha Kucha' night on Waitati in Transition. Essentially, it
was review of some of the sustainability initiatives, and I enjoyed
the process of sitting down and looking at what had become of the
Weggies since 2006.

Winter is a good moment to stop and take a look
around at what needs to be prepared for the hectic days of spring
ahead. The Weggies' aim to build a strong local food web is even more
relevant now, as we enter difficult economic times, and address the
predicaments of peak oil and climate change. The 'Slow Food' movement
uses the term 'eco-gastronomy' to describe itself and I think this
term describes also what seems to be a core value of all the Weggie
initiatives.

There are workshops and tours, which occur every summer, aimed at
encouraging small scale food production, spreading skills and
knowledge and sometimes introducing people to food growing and local
networks (and what a lunch!). In 2008 and 2009, harvest markets
sprouted up, providing a community farmers market to dispose of
surpluses, barter and sell, or just mix and mingle and have a good
time. 2009 saw the first harvest from the small community garden
located on Frank and Lynley O'Neill's property and co-ordinated by
Derek Onley. They had a huge potato harvest. This year we've seen a
couple of new initiatives: Open Orchards and the allotments, both
aimed at providing ways for engaged people in the community for
self-provision, interaction, and generally introducing more health and
wealth into their lives. Aunt Lucy offers juicy and judicious advice
but what has happened to Derek's Garden Diary?

There's always an ebb and flow of voluntary input (everybody has to
make a living too) but there's never been any shortage of passionate
people willing to make things happen. The Blueskin Resilient
Communities Trust, in wanting to offer to support to the weggies, has
applied for funding for a salaried weggie position, as there remains
much to be done, not just in the existing initiatives (with
EnviroSchools being scrapped by the Government we may need someone to
step into the breech, for example). So, like a well-formed artichoke,
the weggies are in good heart. Membership is growing ($5 for
life-membership!) and there are many more places to grow, glean, find
and even eat good local food.

So, what does preparation for spring look like? Increased membership
(contact Lynnaire at 482 1364), offer your skills to one or other
initiative, volunteering to help out at the Waitati School Garden, and
planning, planning, planning what to plant where in early spring!

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voluntary/non-profit community publishers in Blueskin Bay (Seacliff,
Warrington, Evansdale, Waitati, Doctors Point), Dunedin, New Zealand.
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