Adrienne Lamb, of Alexandra, wants to establish a vegetable growers’ co-operative to meet the increasing demand for a more consistent supply of locally grown, spray-free, seasonal vegetables.
Mrs Lamb also wants more experienced vegetable growers to share their knowledge and mentor the less experienced, and to have the chance to supplement their incomes by selling their surplus.
“If they can’t use or sell their harvest, then we can also make sure the surplus gets to people who need it, so it is not wasted,” Mrs Lamb said.
“We want to set up the co-op for like-minded people.”
She said there was a growing trend towards buying locally grown, spray-free vegetables without too much packaging or too many food miles.
“Many people are wanting to know where their food has come from, and they want .. better quality food on their table.”
Mrs Lamb is part of the Friday Food and Produce Market, and has had requests from people living as far away as Wanaka who wanted a spray-free source of home-grown vegetables.
She said there used to be many small market gardens supplying the district’s vegetable requirements in the 1960s and 1970s.
However, it can sometimes be hard or uneconomic for some small growers to grow a variety of vegetables on a large enough scale.
In recent years, many regions had moved towards centralised, large volume mono-crop growing, with fewer varieties and nationwide distribution.
She said a region’s whole crop could be ruined following a weather event.
“That is when we start seeing cases of cauliflower for $10 each, as an example.
“There are a lot of people who own some land and want . to grow vegetables for their family or [to] supplement their income.
“They may have done it in the past and maybe want to do it again.
“They want to be a bit self-sufficient and they might be looking for guidance or information, so we want to set up mentoring as part of the group.
“I’ve talked to a few people already who are happy to share their knowledge.”
Eventually she would like to start selling food bags or baskets at the Friday market – these would have enough vegetables, fruit and meat or fish in a bag for four or five meals for a family – but to do that she needed a consistent supply of ingredients.
She would also be looking at council requirements to work through the logistics of what can be done.