Desire to Grow

A group of Nelsonians are embarking on a revolutionary new approach to feeding themselves. Not too keen on letting all of the details out of the bag organiser and Green Party Candidate Colin Robertson said “It’s basically about connecting Nelson’s available land with people with a desire to Grow”.

The group with the provisional name ‘let’s GROW’ had it’s origins in the local permaculture gathering when a few like minded people started discussing the intertwined issues of resilience, healthy organic food, food miles and education. The group, now consisting of at least fifteen people comprising of land use consultants, ecologists, a soil scientist, organic and Biodynamic consultants, permaculturalists, computer programmers developing alternative currencies, marketing and communication professionals and many of the people already involved in organic food distribution in Nelson.

 Colin goes on to say “The end game may sound a bit ambitious but it is to grow and supply the majority of Nelson’s fresh Organic fruit and vegetables locally produced by local people. Most of our organic food currently comes from Canterbury and this is simply unsustainable”

Whilst the project will be self funding and self sustaining in the medium to long term Colin explains that they are seeking funding through a variety of channels including the MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund to get started. “We are pretty relaxed with timeframes and will work with what is available and when.”

Colin continues “We have some great land already committed both within Nelson and in the Richmond Plains and are looking for much more, especially in the city itself.”  At this stage ‘let’s GROW’ would like to hear from land owners with a minimum of 200 square meters in sunny places available for growing on an ongoing basis.

More details will be provided to those who get in touch. The project is not due to begin until May of next year due to funding streams with a launch a date around October 2014.

Ideal participants are people with more land than they can look after, live in a sunny part of town, have no intention of moving and wish to obtain a yield from their gardens. If interested please send expressions of interest GROWNelson@mail.com

Colin describes some of the potential side shoots “We’ve stumbled into so many needs and opportunities from our discussions with community leaders” .  “From the need for a system to deal with the massive resource that is our food waste to the concept of a large biodigester heating a greenhouse by this gas”. Currently Nelson has no mechanism of dealing with food waste and it all goes into landfill. 

Opportunities also exist in capturing, processing and composting some of the 16,000 cubic metres of green waste Nelson produces each year.  “With all of these compostable materials we can’t fail to improve our soils and with it our community’s resilience.” Says Mr Robertson

We’ve heard from all people from all walks of life who are keen on being involved from seasoned gardeners to new comers to Nelson with a desire to literally put down roots, people new to gardening, to travellers who are here in their hundreds at the peak of growing season. 

Other people who may be keen on such a flexible system are contract workers, retirees, differently abled people, tenants who want the security of a plot of land over the growing season.  The list is endless, basically it’s everyone!”

The magic that allows it all to happen is a beautifully elegant computer system that displays and filters jobs.  The key is that this is accessible from anywhere including on a smartphone with an internet connection. We will include a hub at the environment centre for folk who are not online. 

Colin’s other interests include land use consultancy, viticulture, conservation, renewable power and he is currently standing for Nelson Council as a Green party endorsed candidate.

Colin says he is standing for election to help bring a smart Green economy to Nelson.  He says “We have an opportunity in Nelson to show the country how it’s done.”  He points out that we can and must transition to a sustainable future to meet the goals of Nelson 2060.  “Integrated transport with safe, direct, efficient walking and cycling infrastructure and affordable public transport as part of smart, modern urban design is key to making Nelson a truly living city.  

“The reality of climate change means we must have a resilient infrastructure and play our part in decarbonising the economy” Says Colin. 

If you have time to help with this campaign in any way he’d like to hear from you. Colin.robertson@greens.org.nz

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