Hawea Food Forest keeping up momentum

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Creating a “heartbeat” is the aim for members of the Hawea Food Forest.
Chairman Ben Elms said there was a “new energy” within the group, with an expanded site and new projects.
Regular working bees, instead of only about four in a year “kept the momentum going”, he said.
“We’ve changed our approach, we have a monthly working bee every Saturday _ the first Saturday of every month.
A new project was offering allotments, and five family groups had begun working on their plots, with plans to offer 10 to 15 allotments “in the first batch”.
The aim was to create more of a hub around the site, he said.
“So it is not just this empty space for the first 29 days of the month, and one day of the month we all come together.”
Pupils also visited the site, with different classes taking part in plantings, he said.
“We have a relationship with the Hawea Flat School, and they come down every now and again.”
A new lease agreement had been signed with the Queenstown Lakes District Council, doubling the site to about 2ha-3ha.
Planting was planned in the new area next year.
“We will probably plant that out in a more conventional style of straight rows, but incorporating permaculture and food forest principles.”
The planting could include mixed varieties of fruit trees with other edibles among them, he said.
Since the project began in 2012, there had been more understanding on the challenges of creating a food forest, he said.
“One of the things we found for us is the food forest was quite overwhelming, and quite hard to manage, even just putting in the next layer of plants.”
A food forest could have up to six layers of edible plants, beginning in the ground, but there were challenges to ensure different plant species worked together, he said.
“We will persevere with that space, and carry on developing it, but then the next space we want to be a bit simpler.”