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The Greens on urban farming

Written By: - Date published: 6:05 am, September 24th, 2020 - 25 comments
Categories: climate change, election 2020, farming, farming, food, greens, sustainability - Tags: , , , ,

More from the Green Party on their Farm for the Future policy. James Shaw spoke at the Waimarama Community Organic Gardens in Nelson last weekend about the importance of local food.

Typical of Green policy, this is both environmental and social, with benefits for climate action, Māori, health, and local economies.

The key points,

  • The Greens want people to have access to locally grown, affordable and health food
  • To use existing spaces more effectively
  • Community gardens should be encouraged in urban areas, including high density housing areas
    • The Green Party policy is to give $10m to such projects
    • Central government can use the RMA to set standards that councils follow.
  • Make connections between schools and children learning what farming is, as well as strengthening the connections between rural and urban New Zealanders
  • Local food is part of creating climate friendly communities

RNZ reported,

Shaw said the top of the South Island was leading the way in several areas, including the Te Tauihu Intergenerational Strategy convened by Wakatū Incorporation in partnership with the Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough councils; the business and education sectors, whānau, hapū, and iwi across the region.

“This is exactly the kind of approach the Green Party would like to encourage – it’s strategic, it’s intergenerational and it recognises the interconnectedness of our people, the environment and local communities.”

Shaw said he met with a variety of farmer groups on his travels around the country, from organic market farmers to large-scale dairy farmers and family-owned sheep and beef farms, and there was strong interest in a shift to more sustainable, higher-value ways of producing food.

“My experience is farmers just want the practical support and the tools to be able to make that transition. A number of them feel stuck, a lot are carrying significant debt loads but they’re keen to make that transition.”

I’m particularly pleased to see the point being made here about the value of having food growing spaces in urban areas. Urban farming is not new, we’ve been doing that since we started making towns and cities, but there is a renewed interest in recent decades and there are people now making a decent living from this as well as community initiatives bringing multiple benefits to communities.

Climate change and food resiliency issues mean that protecting prime food growing land from development is an imperative. Food security comes with having a diverse range of food growing systems, not just relying on large scale farmed food imported from far away.

Green spaces are also cooler in high heat and drought cycles (we should be planting trees too). There is still much fertile land in New Zealand being subsumed under housing and industrial developments as cities and towns spread. If we integrate urban and community farming, gardening and food forestry into our lived landscapes, then there is no conflict between housing and green spaces. Solving the housing crisis requires we build homes not just units, and we can close loops around urban development, food security, and housing.

Front page photo of Waiutuutu Community Garden.

25 comments on “The Greens on urban farming ”

  1. Robert Guyton 1

    Riverton has one, between the Fire-station, the Anglican Church and the Runanga offices. It's forest-garden style and features apples, plums, peaches, hazel, sweet chestnut, grapes, gooseberries, currants and has as its understory, artichokes, potatoes, herbs and a whole lot more. The gates are always open.

  2. Rae 2

    As we madly, rapidly grow our population, we lose the means and the ability to to provide for ourselves, and become more reliant on large and often foreign corporations for the means for our existence. To me, this is as much an imprisonment as any other real ones.

    • Robert Guyton 2.2

      It's relatively easy to break out, Rae!

    • greywarshark 2.3

      Woe is me! Every person when they realise what you have Rae goes through a sense of serious un-ease, but caring for plants from seed to baby to flourishing and provision of whatever they are good at being, will stop the deadening affect on the brain of the contradiction of unbelievable reality.

  3. Gosman 3

    This shows you how The Greens fundamentally misunderstand economics.

    The climate change impact of this initiative is likely to be minimal and it ignores the massive downsides.

    Putting aside land for urban farming means less land available for urban housing. Where are the houses that The Greens are promising going to be built if they are turning urban land in to farm land?

    [This is easily understood by reading the post, the RNZ piece, and if you are really interested, the policy. Stop trolling my posts and stop wasting my moderator time. You’ve been warned many times before, you’re out until a month after the election – weka]

    • Robert Guyton 3.2

      This shows you how Gosman fundamentally misunderstands the issue.

      • Gosman 3.2.1

        Nope. There is a reason people leave behind rural life and move to the city. It isn't so they can grow their own food.

        • mikesh 3.2.1.1

          Interesting use of a negative. There must be an awful lot things that one might claim are not the reason one moves to a city.

    • bruce 3.3

      From the words of Freewheelin' Franklin, fresh air , food and clean water will get you through times without money, better than money will get you through times without fresh air etc …. Well not quite the same words but you may get the idea

      • Gosman 3.3.1

        Don't get me wrong. I love the concept of people growing food in urban environments. This is just at a hobby level though and with minimal govt support. This won't ever replace commercial agriculture and neither should an attempt be made to make it a competitor.

        • Robert Guyton 3.3.1.1

          "This won't ever replace commercial agriculture and neither should an attempt be made to make it a competitor."

          Have the Greens suggested that? Or are you merely implying, Gosman?

        • weka 3.3.1.2

          "This won't ever replace commercial agriculture and neither should an attempt be made to make it a competitor."

          The Greens aren't suggesting that commercial agriculture be replaced (which is clear if you bothered to read the material), and I certainly didn't say this in the post. Get a grip Gosman.

          • Gosman 3.3.1.2.1

            I didn't say you did although discussing food resiliency does suggest that there would be a degree of replacement at some level (even if just a small one). Hobby urban farming is grand. I don't think we need to pump millions of taxpayers dollars in to it though. What is the benefit beyond slightly reducing the cost of a households food bill? There is also a cost involved in doing this in terms of available land for housing which is not factored in to the discussion.

            • weka 3.3.1.2.1.1

              I talked about the benefits in the post.

              I also pointed out that people make a living from urban farming, so you're framing of hobby farming is either ignorant or trolling.

              I know low income people that grow most of their own produce. That's a big drop weekly cost for them. Community gardens help people with that.

      • Dennis Frank 3.3.2

        [mod: please shift to OM if you don’t like]
        Nostalgia buffs: "LSD and his discovery of his own view of life as a three-part conflict among fortune, fame, and love."

        Frank Reynolds was a member of the San Francisco chapter of the Hell's Angels way back in '66, when this book was written (or rather, transcribed).

        He was the stereotypical degenerate scooter trash, and writes of mainlining speed and dropping huge doses of acid on a daily basis. As time progresses, the drugs clearly damage his brain, resulting in a psychotic break with reality. The Frank Reynolds who wrote the first chapter is different from the Frank who wrote the middle chapter, and the polar opposite of the Frank who concludes the book.

        This makes for a scary anti-drug message far more effective than propaganda like "Go Ask Alice."

    • Draco T Bastard 3.4

      We need green space in our cities and so we need to put aside space anyway. We may as well put aside some of that as community gardens.

      And its also better to build up rather than out and so we wouldn't need as much space. Of course, that would cut into the land bankers profits.

      BTW, did you know that the reason for the 1/4 acre property that NZ started with was so that people could grow a large portion of their own food?

      • Dawn Trenberth 3.4.1

        We certainly produce a lot on our traditional quarter acre. All our own honey and some eggs as well as tomatoes except for late winter and spring most of our green veges citrus fruit feijoas etc. Lots of herbs etc. It is very satisfying. Lockdown lesd to a very prolific garden being planted for the winter. Broad beans just coming through now. If land could be set aside so people in apartments etc could garden this would be great for their well being and mental health. We bought a water tank as well so out garden can get through Auckland droughts better.

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    Liberate the berms! Councils have stopped mowing them since I was a kid. Fossil fuel costs will keep rising. Why retain unproductive council land? If by-laws allowed variation of use, folks would explore options.

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    It is a good idea – green space in cities improves environmental and mental health along with food security.

    But the capital structure of our economy – radically privileging leech-like 'property investors' to create a precipitous decline in home ownership makes such initiatives much harder. The real estate paradigm devalues environmentally or personally developed housing – Ikea-like bareness is more readily flippable than a personalized space developed with an eye to food security or bird habitat.

  6. gsays 6

    It shows how far we have gone wrong when a proposal to:

    grow seasonal, local and sustainable food,

    treating soil health as paramount,

    bring community together,

    provide resilience and 'future proofing' for us,

    is seen as radical, can't be done and put in the too hard basket.

    Beyond the obvious benefits as outlined in the post, it can mean less trucks on the road, embedding diesel miles into the 'fresh' produce in supermarkets.

  7. Austringer 7

    Nothing new in this, back in the eighties was working in Wellington for a social outfit financed by the then Muldoon Government, training newly released inmates basic trades skills and horticulture. We were allotted a few acres of land above Mount Vic, by the Wellington Council, where we planted veges for the then one food bank and also for those in need families and elderly.

    So the concept is nothing new, yet with Government financial support for those managing and those learning and council support by way of unsuitable land for development, gifted to those local community Organization prepared to be involved and a wage for preferable unemployed youngsters it can be done again.

  8. Jarjardrinks 8

    Many of us who grew up in the 80’s under grandma & grandad’s watchful eye will likely have fond memories of “helping out” in the garden as they tended to their various cultivars.
    I might be one of the lucky ones, but it instilled in me a truly holistic sense of being at a young age, which I sure hope is having an effect on me now as a millennial.

    There was a sweet spot in society that we would do well to dig up for citizens and provide them the same sense of interconnectedness through something as simple as some bloody potatoes. Or swedes if you hail from the deep south like I!

    Growing a sense of wonder in a child is just one more way to equip future generations with the tools necessary to cope and adapt to the turbulence ahead.

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