Categories
community food permaculture

building earth

Louise Shaw describes herself as an earthbuilder, a teacher, a gardener, a mother (and new grandmother). She and her family live near Whakatane where we talk about building soil and regenerating ecological systems.

We need to change our view of capital, a bigger picture, a longer picture – soil is our capital, we need to build and improve that.

I can’t be self sufficient unless I’m living in a sufficient world

Ordinary but extraordinary

The more you start making (our impacts) visible, the more ugly it becomes. We’ve become good at hiding that, but we need to fix the ugliness.

People talk about better life not a lesser life, and it’s true, we’re so rich it’s awesome.

We can’t just be self-sufficient, we have to be community sufficient.

Positive, but shit-scared.

There’s so much learning in every single day. These things add up to big things.

Superpower: Doing it. Sniffing out other people doing it. A virtuous circle and community.

Categories
food

food that does not cost the earth

Alex Davies is chef and owner of Gatherings, a Christchurch restaurant specialising in 
locally gathered and seasonal fare. We talk about his approach to food that is based on being considerate and in understanding the role of sharing.

This is the future of food, it has to be, there is no other option

Engaging with the seasons

Superpower: I cook for a living- I can feed people, share the warmth

We don’t have to push the message – the food is tasty, nutritious and it is expressive enough – but if someone wants to know more, then we’ll talk with them about where it came from and the story

I’m excited at the moment by Sumac – a middle eastern spice growing in the residential red zone – there’s a complex ecosystem growing right where people used to live

If you show respect for the land then you show it for the people

It’s about relationships

This conversation was recorded in Christchurch on the 8th March 2019.

Categories
agriculture coffee fashion food pacific

Celebration of people and place

We talk with Jon Ching, farm manager of Kauai Coffee Company, and Vance Pascua, owner of Ainofea Productions. We talk about how a seed to cup estate and the Ainofea (I no fear) philosophy both come from a positive place of celebration of the people and place of Kauai’i.

It’s about passion

This is what we are doing and this is what we believe in

I can’t save the world by myself, but I can change one life, and who knows what they might go on to do

If you take care of the land, it will take care of you

Do as much as you can, with the resources you have

These kids, their passion, they will be the future

Activist: Fighting kids off looking down on themselves

Love what you do and the rest comes easy

Categories
food maori

Food sovereignty

Toi Kai Rākau Iti is of Tūhoe, Waikato and Te Arawa decent. An actor and documentary maker, he is back home in Tūhoe working with his community, Hāpu and Iwi. We talk about food sovereignty – agroecological regenerative systems which intersect western horticultural science with traditional Tūhoe ecological knowledge and practice.

Talking points

Transitioning to a place of wellbeing

Te Reo – the magic of nature, codified in language

We talk about the importance of mana motuhake, of sovereignty – the right to life as you see fit – yet we are dependent on industrialised food systems

I come from a tradition of exposing the theatre of power, recoginising the power of spectacle, now we are developing a theatre of community

Food sovereignty is climate change

Gardening as performance art – this is a show garden, a manifestation of energy.

We see intergenerational dysfunction, we say karakia to the land, but then sit down to industrialised sausages.

The layers of colonisation are subtle, deep and thick.

In growing stuff – not just food – you can see the energy

Questions to end (short answers)

Definition: It goes on

Success: Moving home

Superhero: Bringing value

Activist: Yes. Do stuff. Subversive

Motivation: Doing stuff for people

Challenge: Creating space for healing

Miracle: An awakening.

Categories
design education food waste

Food systems whisperer

Finn Boyle variously describes himself as a compost nerd”, a “food philosophy explorer” and a “yeast whisperer”. Realising the question of “what am I eating?” took him down a rabbit hole, Finn saw that he needed to change the world and that his lever was food systems design. He embarked on a food design degree which eventually saw him a grand tour of compost. Amongst several other activities, he is now working to reduce Otago Polytechnic’s organic waste. We talk about making disruption attractive.

Read more on Finn’s work on taking a thriving approach to Otago Polytechnic’s organic waste system (pdf)

Categories
food waste

Household as a place of change

Sally Geislar

The household is a place where change can happen, a place where change needs to happen.


Sally Geislar is the Founding Director of the Food Works Lab at the University of California Irvine. She is a Doctoral Candidate in Planning, Policy, and Design in the School of Social Ecology. Sally currently manages three funded projects on local food and food waste systems. Her primary research examines the role of household behaviour in successful kerbside organics collection programmes.

Talking points

I’m really interested in people, and how people have created the world we live in, but how at the same time it seems like it has always been this way.

The world is just the result of millions and millions of decisions, and realising that if there’s something messed up about it, we can make different decisions.

Daunting on one hand because there there were some many decisions, with momentum behind them, but at the same time hopeful because we’re humans making decisions and we can start to make different ones.

So my work is on those everyday behaviours…households.

If we could get all those people who are already on board with sustainability to bring their practices in line with their ideals, we would already be on a better track.

I’m interested in consumption, broadly speaking, and I’ve found waste to be a really interesting lens on that to understand the values of a culture.

Food waste…part of the momentum of previous decisions

Farmers markets…put us face to face with the humans who are producing our food.

Relationships that are more than economic

Food waste, at 22%, is the largest component of all the materials going to landfill.

Organic materials – food waste and yard waste – generate a quarter of the country’s methane emissions.

But we can’t just make a system and expect that everyone is going to fall right into place….there’s a human element to the technological solution.

How does kerbside collection affect households? Do people change their practices within the home?

For some people it will be “just build it and they will separate”, for others it will be a totally foreign thing.

For some who are pro-environmental in taking shorter showers or not watering their lawn, food waste can pose a psychological barrier of ick factor

But it is the same garbage you were making before, it is just in a different bin.

The household as a unit of analysis.

The household as a place where change can happen, a place where change needs to happen.

Little things…but don’t give up on the other things.

Culture has to change, along with the built environment.

Study…to what extent does culture shift, just by having changes in the built environment.

Norms change…in the 70s you could smoke on a aeroplane…now its unthinkable…if we play our cards right we might see that same sort of shift with foodwaste…the idea of wasting food by throwing it in a landfill will be unthinkable.

The kerbside bins are a powerful communication of norms, of change in behaviour in the home.

Sustainability…we live in a very complex world. The (Brundtland definition)…how will we know what needs they’re going to have in an unimaginable future.

For me it is about needs and systems being cyclical. A lot of our systems are linear and end in the landfill.

The more systems that we can bring back into the cycle , so that those materials that are waste from one system are raw materials for another…the closer we’ll be to sustainability – but it’s really not a destination, it’s a process.

(Success) Clear vision of how I can combine my passion and my career.

Growing up, the opportunity explore and to have un-manufactured experiences.

(Activist) An important question, one which environmental scholars are confronted with regularly. Our work does take a normative stance, of how the world should be, or at least how it shouldn’t be. To the extent that I am trying to change the way that policies are implemented, and developed, and change the hearts and minds of the people that are parts of those systems who are influenced by those policies, way that they react to those policies, engage with the goals of those policies, then in some ways I am an activist, but I think I’m a scholar first. There’s a certain level of data, rigour and truth-seeking that isn’t necessarily absent in the activist’s world but is at the heart of the scholar world. And that’s where I start from, with the goal of making the world a better place in that way – I think I may be considered an activist scholar, or a scholar activist may be more appropriate.

(Motivation) I really love what I’m doing, and other people getting excited about the issues that I’m excited about.

Seeing other people get interested in the possibility for change on these larger scales through the work that they are doing – that’s incredibly empowering and motivating.

(Challenges) Finishing my dissertation.

Continuing applied research with an interdisciplinary scope…bringing other people and organisations into that.

(Miracle) At the heart of it, I would wave a magic wand and people would see themselves as part of natural systems instead of apart from natural systems – and that awareness would change the way the prioritise things in their lives. If we could see more of that, we would see a lot more of the other things that we would like to see.

(Advice) Don’t be afraid to try new things, and if it doesn’t work out as you planned, look to people for whom it has worked and see if they are doing something differently.

This Sustainable Lens is from a series of conversations at University California Irvine. Sam’s visit was supported by the Newkirk Center for Science and Society, and coincided with Limits 2015.

Categories
agriculture community community garden food tourism transition towns

Strengthening community

Anisha Lee

My miracle would be a very big thing, but would require a lot of small things.


Anisha Lee is involved in community development in Oamaru. We talk about her experiences in farming, geology, botany, tourism, environmental farm plans and community gardens. we talk about all of these things, along with plans to bring Ooooby to Oamaru.

Talking points

From a personal responsibility level there seems to be a change in the dairy industry – this is beneficial for everybody if we take responsibility for the decisions you take.

The environment will win in the end if you destroy the thing that is feeding your business – the soil – but it will take casualties on the way through.

No one wants to do bad. But they only know how to do good in the context of what they know is good. People do listen to their managers, but it’s an apprenticeship system without regulation – they think they’re doing good, but they’ve been taught by people who didn’t know either. All genuine people who believe they are doing the right thing.

The best way to bring about change is to get farmers who are doing a great job to run groups – to build a sense of community people who know and are doing a good job of environmental management.

International visitors hear “clean and green” don’t realise that it is provided by an irrigator – it’s not naturally green around here. They realise we have a genuine problem, that we’re not as environmentally friendly as we look on a postcard. It is definitely going to damage tourism is we don’t stop saying something we’re not.

They see environmental mayhem with a small reserve on the edge and are appalled at we call a clean green country.

If we take care with what we do to meet our animalistic desires and requirements, then the other stuff might come a bit easier

Making sure we’re not polluting and are supporting an environment that will keep producing food and preventing poverty and assisting in communities being healthy, more rounded people as well as looking after the facilities around us that provide us with food.

Seeing beginning of the tipping point.

But we’ve been removed as society from understanding what is really important to us.

People are starting to realise that what we eat – where it comes from is really important. It is easier to drive to the supermarket, but in the long run that is not better for everyone.

Helping people have more connections within the community.

(Success?) Graduating. Being involved in the fantastic and enriching Summer School

(Activist?) If it means someone who screams and yells outside and doesn’t do much else, then not really. If it means someone who takes action, then yes.

(Motivation?) I like helping people, being around people, seeing people happy. I see a lot of non-happiness in the world, and I try my best to change that.

(Challenges?) OOOOBY, Education material for the cape re-vegetation project.

(Miracle?) My miracle would be a very big thing, but would require a lot of small things. Happy people, that don’t have to deal with poverty and an unhappy environment around them. Coming up with a solution that means we’re not reliant on petroleum for everything. And getting back to our roots without having to lose too much of that comfort that we’ve managed to acquire.

The smallest thing that anyone could do that would make the biggest impact is to go and talk to your neighbours. Get to know the person who lives next door and be pleasant to them. We’ve all got to live together, whether we like it or not.

(Advice?) Be nice to everybody. Have some compassion, everybody has their struggles. They might tell you what they need and you might be able to help if you’re just prepared to listen.

This series of conversations in Oamaru was prompted by discussions with Phoebe Eden-Mann following her OU Geography field trip to explore Oamaru as a transition town.

We are very grateful to the helpful folks from 45 South Television for the use of their studio.

Categories
community community garden food

Community gardens community hub

Sophia Leon de la Barra

The single most powerful thing we can share with kids – they’re the custodians of the land – they have to take care of it, and here are some ways how.


Sophia Leon de la Barra is the coordinator for the Waitaki Community Gardens in Oamaru. Trained as a statistician in public health, she now runs the community gardens as a community, education and social hub.

Talking points

A glossy magazine for a sustainability strategy didn’t really feel like sustainability in action or practice.

I feel like a contemporary custodian of the land.

I found Oamaru and was fascinated that these eccentric people could be celebrated, and work together.

Our philosophy is around sharing life skills.

Gardening has skipped a generation, an effect of the commercialisation of supermarkets and urbanisation.

The knowledge is there, we just need to tap into that wisdom.

My job is really about people.

Community gardening is about food production, but also valuable learning opportunity and social experience.

Plant a seed, pull a weed, harvest a vege.

(On community gardens and time banking in Lyttleton) Sometimes you need a bit of a crisis to drive you to into an alternative economy. Adversity reveals character and reliance on neighbours.

Food is one of those integral things.

It is all too easy in a globalised economy to eat food from all over the world, but the environmental cost is not really factored in…how can a Korean ice-cream be cheaper than a local one? When people start looking at the logistics of global systems – this is crazy.

Growing food connects people to their environment.

Growing your own food is an empowering experience – it just tastes better.

If people want to engage it can scale up.

I measure our success by how well we are doing in sharing knowledge with the next generation. We’re reconnecting kids wit the process of food, with cycles of nature.

(Success?) Oamaru food forest.

Everybody’s got this about collaboration and making things happen.

A can do attitude – everybody’s got their own projects – so they totally get it, they get you want to do something new and want to help you.

The community garden, community hands in soil – truly intergenerational.

The single most powerful thing we can share with kids – they’re the custodians of the land – they have to take care of it, and here’s some ways how.

(Activist?) Yes. Activists are people who just do things really. If you get something done and it creates a positive change for someone else, then you’re acting on your principles, implementing – activism.

(Motivation?) Well-being of people, health is our greatest wealth, and the more we can do to share that the stronger we’ll be as a whole.

(Challenges?) Get more involved in Council – I’m standing for election next year.

(Miracle?) Make everybody more time rich, so they can engage in community projects.

(Advice?) If you’ve got something you’re passionate about, dig it, do it.

This series of conversations in Oamaru was prompted by discussions with Phoebe Eden-Mann following her OU Geography field trip to explore Oamaru as a transition town.

We are very grateful to the helpful folks from 45 South Television for the use of their studio.

Categories
Fair Trade food marketing

Fostering positive change

Will Watterson

With every dollar we spend, we vote for a certain kind of world.


Will Watterson works in advocacy and public engagement for Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand. Will was in Dunedin accompanying Fair Trade coffee grower Daniel Kinne. We discuss the role of Fairtrade, and explore the role of the story in fostering change, especially in ethical consumerism. We ask what is fair? and how to engage people in this process? (notably though campaigns such as the Great Kiwi Fairness Debate).

Talking points

Passion for social change and environmental change

I got involved in volunteering at the beginning of high school, I thinks that’s where I got my first taste of how it made me feel good to give to others and see other people’s lives improve and transform – and I’ve chasing that feeling ever since in the work that I do.

The idea of taking information and transforming that information into a story…to understand that human beings are story people. Our lives, and those of others around us inform our story.

Being able to take information…to distil it and shape it into story form, so that it is more easily digestible, and people are more easily able to connect it to their own lives and their own value systems, that’s what I learned in my undergrad (English Literature and Theatre).

The industrial revolution was very helpful in many ways – to mechanise as many things as possible, to remove us from the sources and human side of the things that we wear, touch and eat…what attracted me to Fairtrade…was not only the Fairtrade premium…but that I could pick up the coffee packet and read about Daniel and his cooperative in Papua New Guinea…and feel a little bit more connected to the human beings who are doing an incredible amount of work to grow and harvest the coffee.

What is the future that we are wishing to create? What is our utopia, where are we heading as a society? And we know that if everyone in the world lived the way Americans do, or New Zealanders, and consume the way that we consume, we’d need 4 or 5 planets to do that. It’s about acknowledging the fact that we do consume – we do take things from the planet, so if we can reduce the amount we consume, and the energy we use, fantastic..

It’s about acknowledging that every day we spend money, and every dollar we spend is like a vote. We’re voting for a certain kind of world with every dollar that we spend.
When you spend a dollar, are you spending on things that empower the people who produce that product? Are you spending your dollar on things that are supporting sustainable practices rather than unsustainable practices? It’s about becoming aware about where the things that we consume come from, and what kinds of practices and mentalities that we want to support with out consumer dollar.

I like to take a simple approach. I like it but do I really need it? Will it really make my life more fulfilling? Not necessarily – so we can reduce the amount of things we consume.

The things we do buy, need or want – do I need coffee? I love coffee, I’m going to keep buying it – so I’d like to know that the coffee I buy is grown sustainably and is empowering for the people who grow it.

It’s about creating platforms.

(Live below the line) A way of being to put ourselves in the shoes, however inadequate the metaphor is, for a few days, a week, of our brothers and sisters living in extreme poverty – I find that really powerful.

We are indebted to half the world.

The genesis of Fairtrade was the injustices, imbalances and inequities in global trade practices. Fairtrade has developed alternatives, but we want to move back into a space where we are protesting again. Still proposing the Fairtrade alternative, but working with the other players in the Fairtrade movement to protest those injustices that are still occurring in the global trading system.

In an ideal world, Fairtrade does itself out of a job as consumers demand transparency right through the supply chain system.

By buying the Fairtrade mark, you are supporting the infrastructure of being able to audit the transparency of the supply chain.

(Great Kiwi Fairness Debate) Exploring the notion of fairness…stealing people’s parks when they are about to turn in, or taking the last chocolate biscuit…then segway from everyday fairness to interacting with our global neighbours.

A lot of things we consume are made far away, but why should our ethical attitude be any different?

There’s no reason why Fairtrade should be more expensive if you accept that more of the value is going to the growers than to the other players in the supply chain.

The consumer has the ultimate say

As a consumer, I just want to know, is what I’m buying sustainable and ethical? And that’s what is great about the Fairtrade mark.

(Activist?) Change agent. People think of activist as an angry person who is walking down the street throwing things or carrying a big sign. I think there is a time and a place for getting angry. But at the end of the day, being an advocate for change, I’m an advocate for change there all kinds of levers you can pull on for making change, I’m a big fan of working alongside people, and working within to change policies.

It’s important to get messages out there, to continually have conversations at multiple levels of society about what is and isn’t working, and what needs to change and how we can do that.

People aren’t necessarily interested in the run of the mill, the average product any more, people are interested in the remarkable – things that have a story, that are special.

Being special, remarkable is the way of the future, and that doesn’t preclude have sustainable practices.

(Motivation?) Fairtrade coffee in the morning. Little things…inspired by impacts of stories.

(Challenge?) If you spend enough time, it’s easy for your friends, society to put you in a box “you’re that guy”. My challenge is to avoid being stereotyped. Constantly reconnect as mainstream kiwi whole just happens to be concerned about social and environmental issues.

I love New Zealand and our culture and the way we do things so much, I can’t not leave it alone. I can’t not be part of the group of people who are always looking at ways to improve it.

(Miracle?) If I was to wake up tomorrow morning and know that as I potter around my house, everything I am wearing and touching and interacting with, was produced with love, by someone who loved what they were doing and was living a happy thriving life wherever they were.

(Advice?) Look out for the Fairtade mark. Whenever you encounter these kinds of things, just take it one step at a time. Just change one little thing. I like my coffee, so I change that. Just take those little steps, because as you take one step and that becomes regular, it becomes a habit – and habits don’t take effort to maintain. As we build up those habits, suddenly we’ve transformed the way that we live and we’re far more sustainable and happy.

Other resources:
Global Focus Aoteoroa

Global Poverty Project

Categories
agriculture coffee development Fair Trade food

Coffee that’s fair

Daniel Kinne

Producing coffee is intensive work…we want to be rewarded fairly at the end of the day.


Daniel Kinne is a coffee farmer from the highlands of Papua New Guinea. He is also a founding member and the chairman, of the Highland Organic Agricultural Cooperative (HOAC) which includes 2600 farmers. Daniel has been in New Zealand to celebrate Fair Trade Fortnight, through Fairtrade New Zealand and to share his stories on the impact we have on communities like his when we buy Fair trade.

Talking points

We set up the cooperative to give a voice to the grower.

We wanted to group ourselves to get into a system of trade.

Transparency is the main standard in the Fair Trade system.

Everything is done transparently so we don’t feel as though we have been cheated in any way.

Producing coffee is intensive work…we want to be rewarded fairly at the end of the day.

The cooperative is an inverted pyramid, the growers, the general assembly make all the important decisions.

We get a guaranteed minimum price plus a social premium.

We had to meet a set of standards – child labour, environmental, governance.

There are standards of chemicals we are supposed to use, but for use, we are organic, so this is not an issue. But the Producer Support Team of New Zealand Australia Fair Trade helped us identify risk areas in own community – they helped us look at whether our water is at risk, is our forest at risk? What about the soil fertility? This really helped us to understand our environment and how best we could manage it. A buffer zone around a river for example.

For somethings we couldn’t really see where they were coming from…we’ve got huge forest, so many trees, if I cut this we’ve still got plenty of trees. Our country is really young, we have not really experienced that kind of impact – that human activity can have on the environment. But through awareness, and we see on television, newspapers, people are talking “if you are not really careful, all your forest will be gone, the wildlife will be gone, about the future” – so they are telling us about their experience – you see this country it was big rainforest, now all that rainforest is gone due to cattle ranching or logging. We are in our little nutshell, we need to really come out to understand. When people from outside come and tell us such a thing, that really opens our minds – we are unconsciously doing these kinds of things that would mean we would eventually end up where they have ended up – so it is good that they are reminding us, so we can reconsider our ways and how we interact with the environment.

We’ve employed a person to help us write environmental farm plans.

Looking after the environment gives us a sense of satisfaction – we come from the rural area, the environment is very important to us – building materials, health services

Our life is very connected to the forest.

When an environmental officer comes and says have respect for the environment, we have it already so it reinforces us and gives us that broader sense that every one of us should be looking after the environment.

We sell our coffee to a Fair Trade exporter who sells in turn to a Fair Trade certified importer. Everyone in the supply chain of our coffee is certified and audited as Fair Trade.

It is a different relationship, we are working closely with the exporter. Transparency means we know how when he can get the maximum price so we work hard to meet those shipments. The market is there for us to see, so we operate transport and logistics…every day

Fair Trade means we can look at it as a relationship – trust and respect.

It is fair…because get the contract documents from overseas – the importer next down the supply chain. It is transparently available to us. We work out the price breakdown in a transparent manner, made possible by the Fair Trade system.

We get the price, plus a social premium. The General Assembly decides how to spend that social premium – social projects, water quality, roading, schools.

It was great to see our coffee on the shelf – a real sense of satisfaction.

For the consumer they know from the Fair Trade logo that they are empowering rural people in developing countries, but when it comes to the exporter, importer and the roaster – they are looking out for quality, so when the quality comes with a message, there is a market, and everything fits together really well.

If I could have brought my farmers here, they would be really amazed at what you have done here – the farms, the cities, the roads. From one extreme of life to the other extreme. They would say “wow, look at this, look how they have got everything organised, how they keep their place clean…how they live together in a clean and respectful environment”. Then later they would like to meet the consumers and hear about how they enjoy their coffee – this reminds them of the kind of work they are doing over there, and how this is appreciated by the consumer on this side. It connects these two and gives great satisfaction.

Everyone that visits our Fair Trade system has been really moved by the work we are doing.

(Could we do more to connect the producers to the consumers?) That is why I am here – telling our story.

(Activist?) Yes. I see myself as someone who is very strong in trying to bring development to our community, and trying to do it properly so that everyone is happy and we see change in our community. I could consider myself as an agent for change.

(Motivation?) When I wake up early in the morning I think about “alright, let’s move the coffee, let’s help the farmers sell the coffee for a good price, getting the money to the farmer and getting the coffee out while it is still fresh”.

(Challenges?) Developing our own export system.

(Miracle?) If the road system could be upgraded we could work day and night to get the coffee out, supplies in, and really build our community. Roads are the key to the health system, police, education. Our people are hard working, give them a chance and they’ll do it.

We have put some of the social premium in to roads because then we can transport our coffee to the market point – and get a better premium.

The empowerment is coming from the Fair Trade premium, we can move the coffee and still get a good price.

(Advice?) Thank you to the good consumers who are buying Fair Trade produce – you are so wonderful. When we hear of cities like Wellington and Dunedin who are Fair Trade cities, this is really empowering us. We are really grateful. Thank you very much everyone for choosing Fair Trade, it gives us hope and meaning and purpose in the struggling rural outbacks.

Categories
agriculture food permaculture

Irrepressible optimist and orchardist

Stefan Sobkowiak

If you want to get your soil living again, get your life back in your soil.


Stefan Sobkowiak describes himself as a synergist, permaculturalist and an irrepressible optimist. A landscape architect he specialises in attracting bird, insect and animal allies into his designs. Over the last 6 years he has focused on Miracle Farms, the largest permaculture fruit orchard in Eastern North America.

Stefan was featured in the film The Permaculture Orchard, and was in Dunedin as part of the BeyondOrganics tour.

Talking points

We need to say, we really want wildlife in our backyard.

If you build it they will come, you might have to help a little bit.

Most orchards are biological deserts.

Organics is a transition, but it is not stopping problems at the source, we need to ask “what is the problem we are trying to solve?”

If you want to get your soil living again, get your life back in your soil.

It is the life that will change the soil.

We need to reconnect with food.

Sustainability is just keeping on keeping on, it means over the years we’ll continue and we’ll hopefully still keep harvesting and doing the way we’re doing. And that’s better than a mining system – taking what previous generations have built up, and you are squandering it in your practices…sustainable at least you are keeping on keeping on, and you’ll be able to keep on that way. But to me that’s kind of short-sighted – why would you want to settle for sustainable, when you can actually grow or farm in a way that you will leave that property – because everybody is a steward of the land they are responsible for – why would you want to leave it the way is is, why wouldn’t you want to leave it better than the way you got it. If everybody started with that approach,we wouldn’t need to clear more land for farming, because every farm would gradually produce more, and get better and better, you wouldn’t have the problems of flooding because the soil would hold more water…it would solve so many of our problems.

Why not want to actually improve the situation?

(Activist?) No. Just a practical guy. I just want to save the world, that’s all, not much to aim for. If everyone would take on that approach with one thing that they can actually change – and for me it’s orchards for now.

(Motivation) Seeing change in a positive direction. I’ve gotten a lot more pragmatic, I’m not looking to change people, but I do realise that when people are open for change, and they’re hungry for change…seeing people really connect, going “now it makes sense..”.

People really realise that we need to work with nature.

Too often in agriculture it has been an antagonistic relationship – “me against nature” – but we don’t have to do that.

I invite every element of nature – I have to adjust. If there’s something not working the way I’d like, then there’s something I don’t understand. I just need to realise what I need to add to add to that system so that they will either fall into balance where they are not causing me economic hardship, or I need to realise “hey they’re there, I need to adjust my attitude”. Often all it is, is that I need to produce more. If we have one fruit tree and we expect to get all our fruit we’re kind of dreaming, because the birds will get most of it, but if we’re growing 10 of them, chances are we’ll have some, if your neighbour grows ten more, then you’ll have a lot more, and so on.

The problem is not that we can’t do it, it is that we’re doing it on far too little a scale.

(Challenges?) Scaling up. Scaling ideas of implanting the orchard.

Once you do one, people will look over the fence and see ideas that make sense.

(Miracle?) A change in people’s heart. You can talk about anything until you are blue in the face. But until people have a change of heart, a lot of things won’t change. You really have to want to change.

(Advice?) Just start, get going.

Categories
design food

Food as experience

Emilie Baltz

Food is our most fundamental form of consumption


Emilie Baltz is a food designer and artist who has produced Junk Foodie and L.O.V.E. Handbook. She was in Dunedin to keynote at Food Design.

Talking points

Food is a personal material for me…it represents identity, community and culture

Slowness means locality, but also greater awareness

Food is an experimental and experiential material

(Traces) Cultural codes – we have tables, we use utensils…getting rid of all the distance and bringing ourselves back to a place of primitive being, in a sustainability mindset we’re reminding ourselves of the place we exist as humans, that brings us to our primitive level within a civilised state

As food becomes more sanitised, we get further and further away from actual ingredients

Eating, over consumption, we need to look as a part of a whole ecosystem

We’ve created a host of products that depend on systems and those systems and those systems have been very badly constructed.

As designers -and design is about the discipline of order – we’re having to reorder and reframe and redesign those systems for better consequences

Food is at heart one of the issues of over-consumption, so how do we begin to look at that as human behaviour and reorganise it and reframe it?

America…is one of those spaces where there is a great deal of over consumption and inequality of consumption.

The pioneer mindset of eating as much as you can is still in place. Greater conversations and awareness are the beginning.

Working in food brings the opportunity for the conversation to be playful, joyful, not just finger wagging. I don’t believe people change when we wag our fingers at each other. But we do begin to change when we’re in a positive mindset and when we move forward in a positive space and the food and the dining experience helps do that.

This isn’t a regime that says “do this, three times, five times a day in massive quantities”, no, it says “re-imagine the things in front of you, use your imagination, use your creativity to transform the everyday into something else”.

Food is our most fundamental form of consumption

Food is an experience, and it is a highly designed experience

Food is a prop for a narrative, and human behaviour is a certain type of narrative throughout the world…so if we look at our food traditions and food rituals…these affect our most fundamental form of consumption – how we behave and how we consume.

The world problems that are at hand today are magnificent, large and beyond immediate repair…the only thing we can do as individuals is educate ourselves and to go forward with greater positive intent and with greater clarity as to how we want to take action in the world.

I think that there is room and there is necessity for healthy ecosystems, so that means there is space and a demand for luxury, there is space and a demand for joy and delight, there is space and a demand for critical thought and analysis, there is space and demand for better policy making, better justice, but if we can bring all of those systems together and understand where we are powerful and where our voice lies as individual creators I think that’s the greatest form of sustainability.

There’s no solitary linear path to a solution, what there is is a greater ability to speak to each other, greater awareness of the different ways and different flows and different systems and their applications to certain environments – and that’s what begins to create true ecosystems and true methods of sustainability.

From material understanding students can begin to design forays into larger issues at hand – like food justice, looking at food systems, how can we take our understanding of this material and then use it as a new means of communication, and potentially as a new means of being able to reorganise some of these systems that are quite broken.

I don’t think that caring enough to do something is an issue anymore…there’s an understanding that we have a huge amount of things to fix. Designers are specifically focussed on problem solving and end users.

Exploring these great issues through the lens of food is…creating greater empathy and greater joy. It is a material that allows you to make right away…to make, to prototype, to test, to learn and to redo. And that’s goal that everybody wants to get to – to take action in the world – to help something.

Design students come in with empathy…they enter into creativity because they want to help something…if as educators we’re able to help focus them more on problems – real problems – they’re very willing to take that path.

I create different lenses onto the world, to show that there are other ways of thinking, other ways of looking at the material that we consume everyday. I would frame this as participation rather than activism.

Challenges not in projects, more in what choices to make next and what those choices mean for how I want to participate in the world. Until now I’ve had the great privilege to be able to make an incredibly diverse body of work, and great privilege in being able to play in that space and I recognise that fully…moving forward, I have a huge amount of learning, great connections and a wonderful network – how do I want to use that? that is my challenge

Advice: Say yes. Don’t let fear make your decisions for you. Moving forward with a positive mindset that embraces, that says “yes and…” and that allows you to participate in whatever way you can…to participate positively.

Works discussed

Energia
Traces
X-species Adventure Club
Food Design Studio at Pratt Institute
Porcelain Dust Mask Bowl
Junk Foodie
L.O.V.E. Handbook

Categories
business food

Sustainability at scale

Mike Sammons


A good thing from a sustainability perspective is that there’s always one of our stores somewhere in NZ doing exactly the right thing, before I even think what the right thing should be.

New Zealand spends over 15 billion dollars a year on groceries and about 60% goes through Foodstuffs supermarkets. With these sort of numbers, the person responsible for improving the sustainability of our shopping arguably has the most important role in ensuring the sustainability of our country.

Mike Sammons is a UK trained planner with a Masters in environmental management. Foodstuffs NZ is the national cooperative body of the locally owned and operated supermarkets New World, Pak’nSave, and Four Square. In this conversation we talk about how Mike came to be Mike Sammons, Sustainability Manager for Foodstuffs NZ. We talk about what is going right already, what isn’t, how changes are being made, and how that can be communicated.

Talking points:

we can make a massive difference – the programmes we’re implementing potentially affect millions of people within New Zealand.

I’m very aware of the of the responsibility I have – how good the research has to be, how tight the business case has to be, we’re potentially affecting 700 different businesses and millions of people.

When we evaluate products, and we ask for certification, it has to be really tight.

We’re championing stores that are doing the right thing

I strongly believe that sustainability makes a really good business case for itself.

Sometimes we have to get people to recognise the intangible

The next challenge is waste minimisation plans in every store

This is a slightly extended version of the show that aired on 12th September.

See other food related shows here.

Categories
business food permaculture

Growing change

Jon Foote


Private property, trespassers will be given apples

Jon Foote has ten year’s banking and business development experience in Sydney. He has permaculture qualifications and busy permaculture design business ReScape. Jon is well underway with development of the Resilience Education Centre.

we are not separate from nature, whether we get it or not

Jon’s moment of realisation: you know this is what the world needs

nothing will change without action

Permaculture is not an invention, it’s a repackaging of everything done before

(Am I an activist?). I guess so, I wouldn’t paint myself with a full activist brush. I’m passionate about the belief that we have a way out of the current situation and that we need to act on it. Nothing will change without action, and action in a positive direction is great. I’m not a big protester or create…what most activists do, and chain themselves to trees…I did a bit of that in Sydney and realised, you know I’m not achieving a lot – I’d rather go out and teach everyone how to grow food. The activist part of me says ‘you know if we grew our own food, and we had organic farmers, and lots of local systems going on, that in itself will bring down the industrial food system’. So in a way I may be an activist, but I want to do it in a way that is positive so that people can work towards something that is actually beneficial – its not just grumping about things that are wrong. So let’s do the things that are right.

Categories
Conscious Consumers food marketing tourism

Megan Williams

Megan Williams


Megan Williams is the Otago coordinator for Conscious Consumers. We talk about Megan about background in sustainable tourism and Sustainable Wanaka. Conscious consumers is a non-profit sustainbility and ethical accreditation programme in New Zealand. Initially based in Wellington, Conscious Consumers has recently expanded nationally, including Otago.

We talk about the recently released smartphone app that allows consumers to find ethical businesses and check in to support them.

Shane’s number of the week: 2. The two extra colours added to Australian weather maps recently to represent the extreme temperatures.

Sam’s joined-up-thinking: Sam revisits Klinenberg’s 2003 book Heatwave that examined the deaths in the 1995 Chicago heatwave.

Categories
computing creative commons food permaculture

Permageekery


Active in both the Permaculture in New Zealand and the creative commons movements, Danyl Strype describes himself as a permageek. We spend an enjoyable hour wallowing in sustainable IT (without mentioning virtualisation).

Categories
agriculture food

Sustainable growing


Alex Huffadine heads the Natural Resources Group (horticulture, viticulture and pest management) at Otago Polytechnic. We talk about how sustainability is changing the practice and profession of growing.

Categories
environmental entrepreneur food organics

Local food systems


After experience in business creating and running an organic mushroom farm, Bart Acres undertook an Masters in Planning to explore local sustainable food systems. Concerned with how a city can feed ourselves with nutritious food he established Otepoti Urban Organics – a local collective that aims for a healthy city. Now Bart aims to scale this up to his new community venture. Foodweb aims to make local farming worthwhile by facilitating the growth of local food production.

Shane’s number of the week: 97% The Greenland Ice Sheet is melting at an unprecedented rate says NASA – with 97% of it thawing during July.

Sam’s joined-up-thinking: The role of entrepreneurship and enterprise in education has been exercising Sam this week. He tells us why.