Bostock New Zealand in Action
2015: Te Aranga Marae Community Organic Garden
This past year the Pacific Community of New Zealand (comprised of Pacific Islanders from Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji and many others) joined the Te Aranga Community Garden. There is a large community of Pacific Islanders in Flaxmere. In 2013, 23% of the Flaxmere population was considered part of the Pacific Community, and food security is a big issue. In November 2014, the Pacific Community held a blessing at the garden including a turning of the soil. TACG now has a dedicated plot for the Samoan community where they are growing Kumara (orange sweet potato).
This community garden was first requested by the community after a series of violent events, as a way to come together and get to know each other. The garden has been incredibly successful and has provided an improved spirit within the community. There is also a growing participation from local schools, including Kohanga (pre-school aged children). Families of the community participate on a variety of levels, including learning how to grow and care for plants, the sharing of ideas along with the fruits of their labor, and how to give back to their community.
The local police are also a great support of the garden programs, and are proposing a vegetable plot for a youth program they run. The garden has also engaged and educated the community with health programs, including improving access to healthy foods for infants and children.
Up to 30 families a day come to the garden to pick vegetables, including; brassicas, salad greens, tomatoes, corn, peas, eggplant, kale, peppers, beans, chillies, herbs, cucubits (squash, pumpkin), and rhubarb. The garden now comprises 5.4 hectares (approximately 13 acres), and has expanded this past year to include nine large plots including an orchard (with Plum, Apricot and Feijoa). Feijoa is a very popular fruit in New Zealand, and until recently every backyard had one. Feijoa are oval like a kiwifruit and children love to eat them.
Local health providers refer families to the garden, and bags of food are collected for families with a high level of need. Referrals to local horticulture programs, geared towards employment opportunities by local producers, is also shared.
The garden is a peaceful place to come and sit, but it’s also a wonderful social place where people can be with others and interact. Sometimes the harvested produce is made into pickles or sauces, and shared with other members of the local community.
Nine people comprise the TACG Working Committee, and along with Gary Barclay and twelve horticulture students (post school training), they teach families how to propagate from seed, assist with re-planting and this year began installing a hardwood hedge at the perimeter of the garden. Local growers also provide advice on irrigation, assistance with rotary hoeing and turning the compost piles. This past year 14,000 plants from purchased and donated seedlings, where grown in the garden, double the number of plants grown last year.
A special shout out to local businesses for providing additional fresh produce to the community, including: Apatu Farms for providing onions; K. Bayley for providing squash and corn; and apples from Bostock and Crasbourne.
2015: Gardens In Homes
The Gardens In Homes program continues to support local families in the Hawkes Bay Community, and is now supporting fifteen families (up from eleven). There is a new goal to add two additional families per month (pending available funds).
Every garden in the program is maintained by the residents, and produce from the garden is shared with family members, as well as neighbours and friends. One beneficiary, an 80-year-old woman, just loves her garden, and another garden provides a “source of life” and a reason for living, for the recipients.
2015: Gardens In Schools
The Gardens In Schools program has grown from one school to five and now includes: Kimi Ora, Irongate, Peterhead, Flaxmere Primary and Kura. At Peterhead School a contractor teaches once a week and two teachers provide lessons on composting, harvesting, pest identification, propagation, when to plant, and other garden tasks. The children at Peterhead interact with the garden (and each other), gain knowledge and share the fruits of their labor with their families. A garden group, calling themselves The Green Ninjas (image on right), provides another source of collaboration and pride within Peterhead School.
2014: Gardens In Schools
In 2014, Gardens In Schools was created to further support the local Flaxmere community, The Gardens In Schools program, at Peterhead School, received funds to create a new composting system, gardening beds, fencing for the main garden, vine gardens, and a garden blackboard (used to announce when harvesting and weeding assistance is needed). Gardening skills and advice is shared with the children of the school (and their teachers), by program leaders.
2013 / 2014: Te Aranga Marae Community Organic Garden
The Te Aranga Marae Community Organic Garden continues to blossom from the Fair for Life program (established in 2011). This community garden provides organic, seasonal fruit and vegetables for the Flaxmere Community. In 2013 a native garden was planted to provide shelter for the vegetable garden and enhance the beauty of the garden area.
During the summer, approximately 40 families harvested fresh organic produce from the community garden, using some of the harvest for special events. When there is a surplus of vegetables, they are delivered to other community groups such as, Age Concern, Te Whare Aroha Kohanga, Salvation Army, Kia Collective and other families in need.
The most popular vegetables grown and harvested are organic corn, lettuce, squash, kamo kamo (a traditional squash of the native Maori people), beans, broccoli, kale, tomatoes and silver-beet. Apple cucumbers and zucchini are also popular. The plum and apricot trees were a huge hit with the children, as were the strawberries.
2013 / 2014: Gardens In Homes
In 2013 new recipients were nominated by local schools and families, to be part of the Gardens In Homes program. Currently there are eleven families within the Hawkes Bay Community that benefit from this program.
The planting season began with each of the new families meeting to discuss the requirements and commitment of starting their garden. They were helped with the initial planting and gardening instruction.
Mihi Robin is the latest proud owner of a veggie garden in her back yard. Anna and John, the Bostock New Zealand contract gardeners, delivered two untreated wooden Bostock apple bins to the Robin’s house, filled them with soil and compost, then planted them with seasonal, organic vegetables and herbs so that she can prepare healthy meals for her family.
The goal for 2014 is to identify better ways to communicate with each of the families, to add new families to the program, offer additional support with gardening guidance, food preparation and communicate how to prepare healthy meals so that these families will thrive in their community.
2014 should be a new year of blossoming for all three of these wonderful programs, the families that benefit from them and the Flaxmere and Hawkes Bay communities.
Te Aranga Marae Community Organic Gardens
The Fair for Life social program initiated by Bostock New Zealand supports Te Aranga Marae Community Organic Gardens in the Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand. This program not only supplies fresh produce but teaches life skills that allow the community to be more self-sustaining.
“The issue we have addressed is the community that our local New Zealand workers live in, with specific emphasis on the effect of diet on the families who lack the education and financial resources to make informed life style choices. The Flaxmere community, in Hastings Hawkes Bay, is home to many of our full-time and seasonal workers who are employed in varied roles at Bostock New Zealand.” -John Bostock, JB Organics President
Regrettably, in New Zealand society, the indigenous Maori people are over-represented in the lower socioeconomic statistics. One result is a high sugar, high fat diet based on convenience-type foods. This diet leads to a wide range of health issues including obesity, diabetes, mood swings, and general poor health. Bostock New Zealand believes that assistance at the community level is the most effective way of improving the lives of the workers’ community.
The U-Turn Trust, which funds the Te Aranga Marae Community Garden project, was set up with a vision to improve the diet and overall health of the community. The program includes workshops, community education, traditional and current cooking lessons, food preparation, and regular Huis (community meetings); as well as supporting home gardening. The project is strongly supported by the local iwi (tribe) and others in the community. The main constraint is financing for tools, seeds, fertilizers, irrigation, infrastructure, and technical support.
Every dollar of the Bostock New Zealland/Awe Sum Organics Fair for Life Premium directly funds this program. In 2011, Awe Sum Organics contributed $67,076 directly to the U-Turn Trust through the Fair for Life program. The flourishing garden now produces corn, cabbage, lettuce, beans, tomatoes, taro, and kumara (sweet potato).
“We’re not only growing vegetables here. We’re growing relationships, understanding, tolerance, and patience. As a result, we’ll have a more united and galvanized Flaxmere.” -Henare O’Keefe, U-Turn Trust Director
More information about Bostock New Zealand can be found here.