Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tilth Newsletter December 2007

New Committee Members
A big welcome to our two new committee members, Charlotte McHaffie and former Branch President Peter Green. This is a really encouraging sign!

As you will see from this issue, our branch is once again becoming more and more engaged in the wider organic community.

At our AGM this year we talked about ways we could give life to our branch vision statement, which reads: "We are the custodians of sustainable growing systems for healthy, affordable, accessible food for our community and future generations." We looked at what we had to offer, and realised we had our membership, our networking abilities, our library and our newsletter.

We have made some good steps in terms of getting the library back up and running. It used to be a core component of the branch way back in the 1950s, in fact the newly joined and quite young George Maslin was an early librarian back then. Donn Hampton, our librarian, has taken on the job of transporting the books and other materials over to Lyttelton, where they are now housed in the Project Port Lyttelton building. They are all ready to go, we just need shelves! We hope that our members will be able to call in and take a book or two away with them to read, and we think they could be useful to the community gardeners who share the building.

Organic Garden City Trust Revival
In July some of the old members of the Organic Garden City Trust (OGCT) got together to celebrate its tenth anniversary. During the lunch-time conversation the idea was raised of reviving the Trust. Those present decided to test the waters and contact individuals who had expressed an interest in the OGCT in the past to see what the general level of interest was, with a follow-up meeting planned to report back.This process is still underway. The OGCT was always about its projects, and these, especially Kids' Edible Gardens, the Canterbury Commercial Organic Group and the Christchurch Community Gardens Association, are still active while the Trust itself has not been operational for some years. This means new project ideas have not been incubated while the established ones have had to look elsewhere for support.

Seven Oaks Project
Project Port Lyttelton (PPL) are currently negotiating with CPIT for use of the site at Seven Oaks campus in Opawa. The organisation has been gardening on the site for several months since negotiations began, and are already harvesting from the site and selling produce to an organic shop and local restaurants in Lyttelton. The main aim is to make available good quality (organic) produce produced locally for the Lyttelton community. "We want to be able to do that at affordable prices. It will link in with the various gardens within Lyttelton to achieve that aim," says Project Leader Margaret Jefferies. She is very enthusiastic about the Seven Oaks project, remarking on the special qualities of the site, which has had so much organic love poured into it over the years and which has nurtured so many members of the organic community. The long-term future of the site is still uncertain, but Margaret believes it's value as a food producing site in the metropolitan area will only become more pronounced as the effects of climate change and peak oil set in.
If you are a former organic student from Seven Oaks, and would like to be kept in the loop about the PPL project there, please contact Margaret Jefferies to become a 'Friend of Seven Oaks'. Email:

New Community Gardens
At a meeting of the Shirley Papanui Community Board in November the Friends of Edgeware were given permission to continue developing a community garden on the old Pool's carparking area. A report is still to come from council staff on security issues, but planting and garden building has commenced.
Discussions have also begun about the possibility of a new community garden in the Papanui area, with a meeting held between council staff, a keen resident and the Chair of the Christchurch Community Gardens Association (Lily White). Ideas are being tossed about at the moment for this, but if you know of a good site for a community garden there, please let us know.
Transition Towns
Soil & Health Canterbury/Waitaha is set to participate in the Transition Towns project currently being guided by members of Sustainable Otautahi Christchurch. For more information on transition towns, either google that phrase or look up

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Tilth Newsletter April 2007

It seems right, that now in autumn, with the quinces, peaches and apples ripening, that we let you know some of the things that have come to fruition within our branch.

Our Vision
In February we held a visioning workshop at Lyttelton, which was very successful. The meeting was a lot of fun and a tremendous input from all attendants. First in over 60 years, a Visioning Quest! Matt Morris, Branch President asked: “Where do we fit in and where do we go? What are we trying to achieve? The goal of the meeting was to develop a vision statement. At the end the following statement was decided:

‘We are the custodians of sustainable growing systems for healthy, affordable, accessible food for our community and future generations.’

A warm thanks to all participants. The committee has agreed to hold a follow-up workshop, on action-planning, to be held in conjunction with this year's AGM (date to be finalised!)

Another project our committee has slowly been working on is re-establishing our branch library, which was once an essential component of our branch. Although there is some work to do, Project Port Lyttelton has agreed to host the library in the Marriot Building, St David’s Street, where we held the visioning meeting.

Furthermore, long-term committee member Donn Hampton has agreed to be branch librarian. This is great as it means energy will be focussed on this resource.

We have also continued with some overdue housekeeping. Part of this has been a reorganisation of our committee, so, for your information, it now looks like this:

President, Matt Morris
Membership Secretary, Mia Colberts
Treasurer, Melanie Morris
Librarian, Donn Hampton
Immediate Past President, Annmarie Banchy
Committee Member (and National Co-Chair), Holger Kahl

We will be holding an action-planning meeting in conjunction with our AGM this year, but in the meantime, if you have any thoughts about where you’d like the branch to go, please let us know.

Do you want a corporation in another country deciding what supplements, drugs and medical devices can and cannot be sold in New Zealand?
The Therapeutic Products & Medicines Bill is being considered in parliament RIGHT NOW to regulate ALL therapeutic products in NZ as drugs under the management of an Australian run corporation ANZTPA - an amalgamation of the TGA & MedSafe. We understand
New Zealand will be allowed one vote to Australia four.

The ANZTPA are not accountable to YOU, NZ parliament or “the Crown” therefore will not be able to be voted out by successive governments. Our Sovereign Rights are about to be sold to an Australian bully who is pushing the law to be passed in time for their next election. In NZ 1000’s of supplements and remedies will become illegal to sell overnight. Herbal ingredients for Maori, Chinese and Ayurevedic Medicine may disappear off the market.
Supplements that remain are expected to rise in price by as much as 100% because of high compliance and registrations costs.

Harvest time or Ngahuru
Ngahuru is the old Maori word for ten and means the crop lifting tenth month or Kumara harvest. This is a wonderful time of the year to see the fruit of our labour, but before you start harvesting ask yourself if by doing so, will you get the best benefit from all the vitamins and nutrients of your vegetables?

Did you know?
That fresh vegetables can lose up to 10% of their minerals and one quarter of their vitamin C when left in the refrigerator for just one day, and up to half in five days? For long term storage, freezing is the best option, but remember to blanch them first to hold high vitamin A levels.
However the best option is to leave your brassicas in the ground until needed and cut only the amount required, leaving the rest growing. Place a leaf over the cut portion and when you make the next cut you will just need to trim the edge that was exposed to the air. This was a tip from the Good Gardeners’ Association Newsletter, which I like to share with you.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Tilth Newsletter February 2007

Te Waru/Lughnassadh/First Harvest
This is a very busy time for most gardeners and traditionally in Celtic times a celebration was held during the Full Moon (this year on the 2nd of February) to celebrate the harvest of First Fruit in the expectation of an abundant harvest. Lugh was the God of grain and life, who conquered darkness; and a good harvest meant the survival and conquering of the harsh dark winter in Celtic time. Nasadh means feast, held at this time of the yearly cycle to thank Lugh for the first fruits of the earth and the abundant harvest that was expected to follow. In the old Maori calendar this was the 8th lunar month, Me te terakihi e papa ana I te waru (Like cicadas chattering in the 8th month). For both cultures this was the berry time, but in Maori culture the first Kumara was not as yet harvested, while the European grain harvest was now in full swing. While the European ovens were full with bread baked from the first harvested grain, the Maori rua (storage kumara pits) were still empty and it was a lean time for them. (Batten, Juliet, Celebrating the Southern Seasons. Tandem Press, Birkenhead 1995. P.124 and 135)

Visioning Workshop
Soil & Health Canterbury/ Waitaha Branch RevisioningThe Canterbury/ Waitaha branch of the Soil & Health Association is rethinking its role and revisiting its objectives, and we'd like YOU to be a part of this. At its well-attended 2006 AGM, those present expressed a strong desire to keep the 63 year old branch going, and floated some exciting ways of taking organics to the next stage in this area. Since then, the committee has been tidying up some house-keeping matters. Now we want to develop our vision at a special
Visioning Workshop to be held on
Sunday 11 February, 1.30pm-4.00pm,
At Marriott House, Lyttelton,
Right beside the Lyttelton Community Garden
(entrance via the Community Garden, through the double wire
gates on St David's Street, between Exeter Street and
Stevenson Steep).

We hope you can come along to share your thoughts. We want to capture the fullest possible picture of what our organic community needs and wants. At the end of the session we will have our new vision statement and some strong ideas about projects, as well as a mandate to proceed. The committee will then be well placed to meet our community¹s expectations. The visioning meeting will then be followed by a brief Special GeneralMeeting, in which we will elect a new Treasurer and possibly new committee members, and discuss a slight wording change to our constitution for IRD purposes. An agenda for the meeting will be sent to members beforehand, but if you are not a member and would like more information, please feel free to ask. Email Matt Morris:
We will, of course, also be featuring an organic chocolate and parsnip cake, and other organic nibbles to celebrate this next step for the branch.

Lunch in Ashburton with the Wastebusters
This was attended by Matt Morris, your President and Don Hampton and myself and was much enjoyed. The name of Waste Busters, proudly displayed at the entrance of the refuse station, is also very positive and encouraging. There were other interesting names such as “Mitre 13” where all sort of tools, metal constructions and motor parts were displayed and for sale. It is a joke in the Ashburton community that if a woman has lost her husband, she will go to Mitre 13 to look for him as that is the place he is most likely lost and to be found.

I do not have the exact statistics of what % ends up in the landfill and what is actually “busted” and put to very good use, but it was very encouraging and certainly much better than in Christchurch. The Waste Busters centre is also very friendly and inviting and the coffee room next to the 2nd hand clothing and preloved toy shop is a meeting place for locals to have a chat and a browse. Ashburton certainly sets a shining example for Christchurch City to follow.

Mandatory additives to our food.
The decision of compulsory Folic Acid Fortification to ALL flour, including organic is still on the agenda, even though the decision has been delayed. However a delegation of OANZ met with Food Safety Minister Annette King, who was willing to consider the possibility of an organic exemption. To Mass Educate is better than Mass Medicate 4 million people of NZ to prevent 8 spina bifida is the message of OANZ, and Soil and Health will continue with their efforts to achieve this. The latest Magazine of Organic NZ, 2007, Vol.66, Page 45 has full details of the discussions and issues.