Green Party plan for regenerative farming to start from the grassroots
The success of a Nelson organic community garden is a blueprint the Green Party hopes to replicate throughout the country.
Green Party co-leader James Shaw was in Nelson on Saturday, where he visited the Waimarama Community Garden to talk about his party’s policy for sustainable and regenerative farming.
A week ago the Greens launched their Future of Farming plan, which pledged $297m to support farmers and growers to transition to more environmentally-friendly farming practices.
Along with that was $10m for community food production projects, similar to the one at Waimarama.
Run by volunteers, the Waimarama Community Garden specialises in organic produce, seeds and compost, and provides garden space and educational workshops for the public.
Shaw said Nelson was at the forefront of efforts to increase food resiliency and support community food production.
“This will be one of those examples that will be used around the country, for the kinds of community composting and regenerative farming examples we want to see more of.
“The idea is to scale up this kind of work here in Nelson and right around the country so communities, households and local businesses can get involved in processing their own food waste, turning it into high quality compost and then turning that into sustainable food grown locally.”
Shaw said while the plan was a practical way of reducing food waste and providing high-quality sustainable food for low-income families, there was also an educational component as well.
“It means that people who don’t normally have the opportunity to think about where food comes from, they get connected to that system and become more conscious about the waste they produce in their homes and businesses.”
Shaw said while an exact delivery method of the money had not been set out, if passed the $10m would go a long way.
“[Community gardens] do run on the smell of an oily rag – that funding should give the whole sector a shot in the arm.
“If we can get the funding over the line… it will provide a real boost to initiatives like [Waimarama], who are doing such good work and are such a good example to the rest of the country.”
Speaking on the party’s broader farming plan, Shaw said the $300m investment would help remove the financial barriers for farmers to transition to more environmentally sustainable practices.
Some of these changes would include tightening the limits on nitrogen fertilisers, and banning the import of palm kernel as a stock feed.
“We know farmers are really proud of the land and have a deep connection to the land,” Shaw said.
“A lot of farmers are stuck in a hamster wheel. They’re highly indebted, they want to move towards more sustainable models of farming and food production, but are stuck.”
By Tim Newman