Thursday, May 1, 2008

Branch Happenings

The following update can also be found in Organic Matters July 2008.

The Committee have met regularly over the last 12 months every six weeks or so, at my house. During these meetings we have worked through all of the internal issues that have been built up over the year. These aren’t very glamorous, but they include a bank account that needed to be closed, tidying up our branch constitution so that it matched reality, investigating and confirming our tax status with IRD, and re-defining our work. These issues are now all sorted.

In recent meetings we have had guests coming to talk with us about related projects in the community. In December we had a great end-of-year meeting at Seven Oaks, where Margaret Jeffries of Project Lyttelton told us about what they were doing on the site. As usual, this was very inspiring – growing salads for the Lyttelton Market and local businesses on a large scale, part of a satellite system of community gardening. Earlier this year we had a visit from Rhys Taylor to update us about Transition Communities in Christchurch. Our branch committed to being involved in this process, which is very dynamic and very NOW. At our last meeting we had the Manager of the Ellerslie Flower Show come to talk to us about how groups like ours could participate in March next year, and I’ll come to that in a moment.

We have had a great series of meetings, usually helped along by Donn and Linda’s cakes and fabulous elderflower, rhubarb or quince champagne for which the committee have been very grateful!

Open Home Discussions
We have agreed to adjust our meeting structure, now that the internal work is out of the way, and open several of them to our members and the public. These will still be held in our homes, with a talk about a particular thing we can do at home to be sustainable. This might be growing mushrooms, gardening in circles or eating more flax oil! We would be delighted to have you along to these gatherings and will let you know when and where they are happening.

Tilth Newsletter
Mia Colberts has continued as our newsletter editor this year and has put several of these together for us. We have had some good discussions about how to involve other organisations in this newsletter, making it more of a networking tool and letting you know the great organic events that are coming up around our communities. Sadly, Mia is stepping down from our committee so won’t be continuing in this role.

At the same time, the Organic Garden City Trust has started up again and will be producing its old newsletter, Organic Matters. This used to be made in conjunction with our branch and, given the timing, I’d recommend to the branch that we revisit this again and see how we can work in together.

Donn Hampton has continued this year getting our branch library operational. He has done a great job as our librarian and thankfully will continue in this position over the coming year. In doing so he has worked in with Margaret Jeffries and Wendy Everingham at Project Lyttelton, setting up the library in their building with their help. We are very grateful for the help Project Lyttelton have given us, even finding a bookcase and painting it – a wonderful shade of purple – for us! We think it will be wonderful to have this beside the community garden and we believe there is lots of potential to build the library up again over the next few years.

Soil and Health Booklets
Charlotte McHaffie has undertaken the job of revising our branch information booklets. Many of you will know these – on companion planting, planting calendars, pests and disease etc – and it is about time they were updated. She has even suggested writing a new one, on fruit forests! Very exciting. David Barwick has started producing original illustrations for these new booklets. Thanks to him and to Charlotte for the energy they are putting into this valuable work, which will also be a fundraiser for us. Donn Hampton is providing additional support in the revising process, and thanks go to him as well.

Ellerslie Garden Show
The branch has agreed to put on a stand at Ellerslie next year. This is a big undertaking and we will definitely be calling on branch members to help out where they can. At this stage we haven’t determined exactly what we will do, partly because we are discussing with some other groups whether we could put on a combined display. However, we know that we’ll be there bringing the organic message to the Show.

I would like to personally thank everyone on the committee for their ongoing commitment to the branch over this past year. I would especially like to thank Annmarie Banchy, who is a past president of the branch and who has decided to step down from the committee. Also, thanks to Mia Colberts who, as I mentioned, is also leaving the committee. Mia has done valuable work not only in producing and distributing Tilth each quarter, but also as our membership secretary.
Thanks to Melanie Morris, Donn Hampton, Charlotte McHaffie and to Peter Green for their input this past year, and to Holger Kahl as our branch mentor and to special guest committee attendees and defacto committee members Ami Kennedy and Christopher Musgrave for their presence and valued input. I have personally really enjoyed this past year, and think we have made good headway in preparing to take on more outward-looking work, keeping that organic space alive so that we can now take it again into the community.

Do you want to help?
Particular roles that we need to be filled are a secretary, workshop organiser/s and newsletter organiser/s. We will also need people to help us with the Ellerslie Show display. If you would like to join us on our committee, please do feel free to put your name forward.

Branch President
Matt Morris