Food resilience is about people…it is about how we connect with each other and how we relate to our role within the ecosystem. It invites us to care and be guardians.
In 2013, Fiona Parkes of the Rangiora Earthquake Express contacted me in my capacity as then Chair of Soil & Health Canterbury. Their organisation was winding up, had funds, and wanted to leave a legacy food project in the region.
Feeding our Future
Together, our two organisations ran a hui at the University of Canterbury called “Feeding Our Future”, on the Spring Equinox of 2013. This hui brought together representatives from a range of organisations who all had an interest in food resilience
At the hui we developed a vision of “a patchwork of food producing hotspots woven like a ribbon into the fabric of our community”, which is still a vision of the Food Resilience Network. The hui also agreed that there should be a group formed to drive this vision forward. Eventually, that group became the Food Resilience Network.
Initially, the group met in private homes and feasted on delicious potlucks while working through a wide range of issues and agreeing on some principles.
The Food Resilience Action Plan and Edible Canterbury Charter
At the same time, the Christchurch City Council was developing new community garden guidelines, and the conversation widened into developing a food resilience policy for the city. This was co-created with the Food Resilience Network. In tandem with this, we developed the Food Resilience Action Plan, and the Edible Canterbury Charter.
While there was early talk about creating a new legal entity, we decided to hold off on this so that we could focus energies on other more on the ground matters. For the first few years, the Food Resilience Network sat under the legal umbrella of Soil & Health Canterbury.
This was convenient and logical, because Soil & Health Canterbury was also responsible for leading Project 12 of the Natural Environment Recovery Programme – a Government-led Earthquake recovery initiative. Project 12 was about supporting community gardens, community orchards and other community-led food initiatives.
Soil & Health Canterbury was the only not-for-profit community organisation leading a Natural Environment Recovery Programme (NERP) project. In effect, the Food Resilience Action Plan was the work programme for Project 12 of the NERP.
The Food Resilience Network was formally launched in 2014 at the Food Resilience Expo in the Botanic Gardens, and in early 2015 the Edible Canterbury Charter was signed by numerous organisations (first off was the Christchurch City Council). This Charter sets out the guiding principles of our collective efforts to create a more food resilient region. It is also a tool that could be used to establish accountability.
The Ōtākaro Orchard is a project of the Food Resilience Network to build an urban learning hub for local food in the heart of Christchurch. Conceived in 2015 with the input of over 200 people, this project won the tender from CERA for the North Frame Community Garden. As the only community-led anchor project of the rebuild, Ōtākaro Orchard is a rare example of grassroots community vision backed by local & national government and the private sector. This project is a critical anchor for our thriving local food movement, a central nexus for inter-generational learning, and a world-class exemplar of what’s possible for New Zealand and other cities around the globe.
The Elements of Otakaro Orchard:
Public Food Forest
Producing 1,000kg / year
Open-Harvest for public use
Solarium / Outdoor Classroom
Cafe & Information Centre
Living Building 180-person capacity
Small & Large venue spaces
HQ for Food Resilience Network
Social Enterprise Cafe