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