New group promoting home-grown

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A new group in Hawea has been created to encourage more people to grow food at home.

The Hawea Food Growers group aims to build a supportive network of locals who can help each other grow food all year round.

The group was formed by sisters Jess McDougall and Anna Edkins, both of Hawea Flat.

“We moved to Wanaka three years ago, and have been on a bit of a journey to self-sufficiency, I suppose you could say,” Mrs McDougall said.

While establishing their own garden, they came across many people in the community who had experience of gardening and wanted to turn that knowledge into a resource.

“Hawea Flat and Lake Hawea are quite unique climates in that we are very seasonal, so we have very cold winters and hot summers and a little bit of everything in between.

“We are hoping to bring a range of gardeners together, so we don’t want this just to be about experienced gardeners.”

Spending time looking at each other’s gardens was an aim, as well as holding workshops and having guest speakers, Mrs McDougall said.

“It’s about people growing for themselves, or for the community, so less about commercial production and more about growing for your own use.”

The group could provide a platform for sharing any excess vegetables so they were not wasted, she said.

“Come spring when we have an abundance of produce, it would be nice to share as well.”

The group was “just a starting point really, whether you are starting off planting some lettuces to eat or whether you want to carry on into grains and things like that. There’s a huge range, and it is all beneficial,” Mrs McDougall said.

Many things grew well in winter, and she had leeks, carrots, beetroot, cauliflower and broccoli in her garden at present, Mrs McDougall said.

“It’s still worth gardening through winter – there is still lots you can do.”

The first meeting was popular, about 25 people attending.

“Ben Elms [Dr Compost], of Hawea Flat, spoke about getting ready for spring, with 16 handy points, which also became a point of discussion for members.”

Popular topics included composting and calendar planting for the local season, Mrs McDougall said.

“People were also interested in propagation, soil science, processing produce, organics and fruit tree pruning.”

Those attending the first meeting ranged from beginners to experienced gardeners, and the group arranged to meet on the first Thursday of every month.

For more information go online to www.fb.com/groups/haweafoodgrowers.