This a guest post from one of the hugely popular bloggers of Indian origin KayEm ., now settled in New Zealand. She is a versatile writer , taking up serious issues for discussion, putting forward her views in simple and honest language.blog- http://nevermindyaar.blogspot.co.nz/
KayEm has authored a book, “Never Mind Yaar” which is published on Amazon and in New Zealand. She is trying to publish, a slightly modified version (with no explanations of Indian terms), soon in India.
Most of us in India think of New Zealand as green and beautiful with gardens and water bodies adorning the country. It is also in news most of the time for the Earth quakes that occur.I for one keep a track of how they overcome these adversities so courageously. I never imagined that they needed to promote kitchen gardening, sustainable gardening and saving on carbon foot prints. Once again , I am amazed at the meticulous planning that is done , with the co-operation of the citizens. Wish we had such initiatives in our leaders and Junta too!!!!
OVer to KayEm
City Farming In New Zealand
The other day I received an invitation. It was from “Sustainability Trust” (ST) – more on the organisation and its various activities at the end of this post.
The invite was to participate in a brain storming session on growing vegetables in NZ cities. One of the reasons ST wants to encourage this is obvious. It would like us to reduce our reliance on foreign vegetables and help reduce NZ’s carbon footprint (petrol used for transportation being the major culprit). Another very good reason is to make individuals as self-reliant as possible. NZ is earthquake prone and after a disastrous earthquake everyone ought to be prepared to survive on their own for at least three days.
After the Christchurch earthquake, the city emergency services swung into action immediately and it was heartening to watch all of New Zealand plus people from all over the world pooling resources to help. The Mayor, Bob Parker, let ordinary people know how best they could help.
The Indian Community put up a (well appreciated) donation effort of our own with donations of food from every Indian restaurant we knew, drinks from Coca-Cola Amatil and entertainment by our Indian kids.
The reason we still have to know how to survive on our own for three days is to be prepared for the worst (if emergency services are not able to reach us immediately.) The NZ civil defence website advises us on storing a survival kit,( http://www.getthru.govt.nz/web/GetThru.nsf/web/BOWN-7GZTZF?OpenDocument#items ), schools and offices practice earthquake drills regularly, sirens are maintained in prime condition and a lot more is done to help ordinary people stay prepared.
We were looking forward to the Sustainability Trust session because we’d already decided we wanted to try our hand at growing vegetables. If we were getting free advice just before doing so, that was a stroke of luck. As it turned out, the session wasn’t on how to grow vegetables but rather a brain storming session on where to grow them in cities and how to be more visible growing them so that passersby feel enthused about giving it (growing fruit and veggies) a go. ST felt it would be good if people got together and got involved in community gardening through better co-ordination and centralised resources. “Each garden is kind of standing alone at the moment,” said Christina Bellis, community projects manager at the trust. “If we had some more co-ordination, we’d be able to pull independent gardens together and we wouldn’t double up on resources.”
There were quite a few suggestions and the following, probably already being followed by people around the world, are worth a mention.
• Share (or barter) resources with your neighbours. For example, you might want a patch of your garden cleared of weeds and someone else might want to borrow your tools.
• Produce or seed swaps.
• Take a potted vegetable plant to work and grow it at your work station at your office. If your peers could see that growing even small amounts of edibles is creative, fun and rewarding it might enthuse them into growing veggies of their own.
• Children at school to grow veggies and either sell the produce or prepare a dish and sell that – say, once a month.
ST gave us the addresses of quite a few others doing similar work. Here are the names of a couple
Guerrilla Grafters: You find the spot (on public land – perhaps outside your home) and they’ll plant you a fruit tree! But you need to commit to caring for the tree. guerrillagrafters.org/ (note, no www prefix!)
Rooftop gardens in Japan: http://bit.ly/ORwB8W (Amazing set ups. Not much land but efficient use of space.)
We enjoyed our evening at ST. We felt it was rewarding. We’ve planted many vegetables and fruit since that day – cauliflower, spinach, chilli, tomatoes, herbs like coriander, basil and tulsi, Lebanese cucumber, potatoes – plus plum, feijoa, cherry and lemon trees and are delighted with the saplings that have sprung up. We’ve added our own homemade compost – from making a smelly, gooey slop we’ve finally started making decent, sweet-smelling earth. It took us two years but it was well worth the effort. As all gardeners will testify, gardening doesn’t replace having your own kids or pets but it comes a close second!
It is our own garden and not a community effort as yet. First, we need to ensure we do have a green thumb. From next season, perhaps we might get involved in a community effort. There are quite a few benefits. I’ve heard that people are really supportive of one another’s gardening efforts and take a lot of pride in their neighbourhood – another plus for urban gardening.
“Sustainability Trust” advice on a whole bunch of things. Here are a few things, in their own words, that they do – home insulation, e-cycle, home advice, eco shop, warm fuzzies and curtain banks. If interested, please click on their link at http://sustaintrust.org.nz