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Thinking co-operatively about progress

We folk of the Real Far North are fortunate to be living here. There may not be much money circulating, but we are rich in having a temperate climate, fertile soils and miles of coastline, all of which can produce much of our food.

As we know, the name Kaitāia means ‘food in abundance’, and we should be taking notice of that by using the soil for producing much of our food, as Māori did many years ago.

Of course it is much easier to shop at the local supermarkets, but the produce there has been mostly sprayed with chemicals before, while and after it was planted in the soil. This is how commercialism has crept into our way of living.

How much better for a healthy life to plant and grow your own food. There is little need for spraying chemicals on to plant, as there are organic sprays and fertilisers to keep most bugs at bay. There is also the daily digital picking of these pests off the plants, quite time-consuming but very satisfying.

A large garden is not necessary for a variety of vegetable growing, such as silver beet, lettuce or beetroot, which can be grown in pots, tubs, and the popular raised beds – these also give easy access for the elderly and physically challenged gardeners.

Large crops such as potatoes, kumara, corn, pumpkin etc can be grown on land which is either leased or loaned by keen gardeners, who can then form themselves into a cooperative. This way of life is becoming more realistic around the world.

Many people far more disadvantaged than we in the Real Far North have got together and started producing food, growing in amazing spaces, and have completely changed their communities for the better.

The advantages of cooperatives are the bringing together of people together in a common cause, providing healthy food and cutting down the transport costs from out of the area. This also makes life more sustainable. Also they can lead to self-employment. For example, an older retired person can pass on years of knowledge to a younger unemployed person who can put it into practice.

There are other forms of cooperatives that could thrive here, such as furniture making from all the timber grown, compost-making from seaweed and animal manures, clothes made from recycled materials, endless articles made from bamboo, which grows like a weed here, and so the list goes on.

We have to start helping ourselves if we want the best life possible in our far-flung top of the country. It’s all here waiting to happen.

So if you’re keen to become part of the positive future, call in to the chat at the EcoCentre, we will welcome your ideas and hope to have your support for a better future.

by Pat Davis

Through the EcoCentre a focus group is planning to bring together people interested in setting up cooperatives locally to figure out the next steps forward. Ken Ross gave a presentation at Far North REAP in 2017 about how Cooperatives work which was well received and certainly got people thinking about the possibilities. Now we’re looking to enable those ideas into becoming a reality.

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