Posts Tagged ‘Aotearoa / New Zealand


Child poverty should be putting you off your dinner


Considering the very big dependency we have on food and the fact that mankind has been walking the earth and eating from it for the last however-many hundreds of generations, you’d really think it was about time we got better at feeding people, right? 

Well, we suck. Not only are there famines in the Horn of Africa, but there are people hungry in almost every country in the world. People who simply don’t have enough money to eat. And those dying of nutritional starvation because all they eat is crap. And the bit that really, really infuriates me is when there are children in supposedly first-world countries that don’t get enough to eat.

The UN has already slammed New Zealand’s “staggering” rates of child abuse and poverty, limited access to high-quality early childhood education, high suicide rates and widening disparities in health and living conditions for Maori children. Child abuse rates in NZ are among the highest in countries of the OECD, and 20% of children live in poverty (a household earning 60% less than the median income).  The Greens tried to make it a political and moral imperative to reverse these appalling statistics and were rewarded with over 10% of the vote in November 2011 elections.

I haven’t even tried to watch Inside New Zealand’s Inside Child Poverty documentary that screened last week as I am a new mother and cry at the thought of someone hurting a child or even when I handwash the stuffed animals and they look up at me with those big dopey eyes like I’m drowning them (please donate more handkerchiefs to the big girl’s blouse fund here). You however, should have more balls then I do and watch it online On Demand. That way you can pause it to go grab more hankies.

So, we can’t feed 270,000-odd kids but we’re more than happy to throw out half a million tonnes of food a year? I’m very skeptical about the ‘authority’ of this article given it’s sketchy, ill-written ‘facts’, but unfortunately, it probably isn’t too far from the truth…. After you’ve read it I want you to go to your room New Zealanders and don’t come out until you can think of at least 3 small ways you can help. Then go do them. Or I shall get the karma fairy to personally come and spit on your food.

Wasteful Kiwis still biffing costly fruit and vegetables

Despite soaring food costs, Kiwis are throwing out thousands of dollars of food each week.

The vast majority (86 per cent) of over 1000 Sunday Star-Times readers polled said they bought food and threw it away.

Fruit and vegetables make up more than half of what is thrown out with food past its use-by date a close second at 46 per cent.

The latest Statistics New Zealand figures show fruit and vegetables are the main component in driving up consumer price indexes since June. Fresh produce rose 9% overall with vegetables alone up 18%.

Wasted food was most likely to end up in the bin – rather than in compost – and ultimately ends up in a landfill.

Nearly a quarter of the 3.2 million tonnes of waste that ends up in a landfill is organic and Zero Waste chief executive Jo Knight estimates more than half of that is food.

If, like Australians, we bin 13% of our total food purchases each year, then more than $2 billion of food is wasted annually. That’s $465 of food per person a year.

Results show we are also cooking more than we need with 36% of food thrown out being meal leftovers.  Read more


Loving Local Food – The Ooooby Story

Starting in 2009 as an online community for people who like to grow food out of our own backyard, the Ooooby phenomenon has seen a huge rate of growth. Here is part of the Ooooby story. To support the cause, sign up for freshly delivered produce at, or join in the community at

We are living in a time of unprecedented change. Around the world things are speeding up and reaching peaks they have never reached before. Unfortunately our finite world cannot infinitely support such expansion, and we need to find a synergy between the future and our simpler past.

As consumers, we buy food from around the world every day, sometimes from Ecuador or the Philippines, California or Australia – the list is long. When we do this we use up our time, energy and precious resources, we pull money away from our communities, and we pollute our home, in order to transport food that we can grow ourselves. We expose ourselves to a food crisis because we cannot control what happens far away. We don’t know how our food is grown, or who has grown it. And we do it because the dollar sign says it’s cheaper.

Ooooby wants to reconnect communities. To recreate the simple food systems of days gone, but adapted to our modern societies and cities. To build resilience into our food systems, to create transparency and trust in our food’s origins. And we want it to be easy and affordable.

Ooooby is about local food. We encourage new growers, whether on a farm or just in a back yard. We establish relationships with our growers based on trust and mutual respect. We coordinate the collection of produce from a range of these local sources, and we distribute it to local homes – our customers. This process puts money back into the community, reduces the waste that goes into transporting food, keeps the food fresher (since it gets to your fork faster), and it gives us knowledge about our food’s origins.

To support your local community and food system, sign up for an Ooooby Box subscription at As a bonus, you’ll receive a box of fresh, delicious fruit and veges every week!

Currently available in Auckland, NZ and Waiheke Island, NZ. If you’re interested in starting up Ooooby in your own community, please get in touch at

Article supplied. Images by


October Planting – What you can plant right now and when you can eat it

Wayback when I created a handy little chart of growing times for common food plants which proved quite popular. So let’s put it in immediate terms- What can you plant this Labour weekend and when will you be able to eat it?

~~A reminder that this is for a guide for temperate New Zealand.~~

Plant now for December harvest

Leaf lettuce, Mustard greens, Radish, Rocket, Coriander, Parsley

Plant now for January harvest

Beans, Beetroot, Bok Choy, Broccoli*, Cabbage*, Capsicum, Chillies, Cucumber, NZ spinach, Swiss chard, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Basil, Dill, Sunflowers

Plant now for February harvest

Aubergine, Carrot, Corn, Leeks, Zucchinis, Pumpkin

Plant now for March harvest

Celery, Parsnips, Potatoes, Yams/Oca


* Yes, you can grow these now but I don’t advise it because of whitefly.

Buy seeds online

You can buy quality vegetable and herb seeds online right now at Trade Me and I’ll make darn sure they get to you ready to sow next weekend.


Something smells bad

I like cows. I enjoy a nice piece of steak every so often, consider cheese not only a separate food group but a necessity for life and think cream is floaty. I’m also thankful for some of the manure that graces my compost pile, invigorating my soil microbes. But what the hell is this country going to do with the effluent produced by 4.4 million dairy cows?

I was thinking how gross that was when it suddenly struck me, “Hold up a minute, that’s only milking cows!” Add another third on for my rough estimate of total dairy herd – 6 million. Now add say 5 million beef cattle. Ta da! That’s 11 million very large bovine eating machines. That’s a lot of grass. That’s a hell of a lot of poo – a cow produces around 11 tonnes of it a year. That’s about 121 million tonnes of cow manure produced every year in New Zealand. (This is my own rough estimation. Not all cows poop the same).

121 million tonnes, let’s reflect on that for a minute…

Global sugar production each year

– Weighs the same as 121 million 1990 Honda Civics

– 121 x more grain than is produced in NZ each year

I’ve been told that cows produce two-thirds more manure than is required to fertilise and replenish it’s food supply. So it’s understandable why we have such problems with runoff issues in this country. Add to this no natural native excrement-dwellers to go to work and help break this shit down. Thank goodness the mighty dung beetle army is on it’s way to help remediate. Because left to decompose, manure is a powerful emitter of greenhouse gas emissions.

The smart solution may be the better management of effluent collection for use as fertiliser and put a lot of it through a biodigester for power generation. Surely NZ could be powered by wind, solar and poo power?

According to the University of Alberta, Canada around 7,500 cattle can produce 1 megawatt (MW) of electricity (1MW can power the average home in the developed world), according to the University of Alberta, Canada. The university also says it would take all of the manure of 6 million cows to fulfill the needs of 1 million homes — or about six cows per home.

There! Energy problems solved.

For more info please read Cow power: the energy and emissions benefits of converting manure to biogas


That’s a lotta coleslaw

No NPK fertilisers on this big boy. A cook holding up a giant cabbage at a camp in Wairarapa. Taken circa 1890s.Courtesy of ATL.


Presents Time: Membership money for NZ’s leading plant groups & a giveaway for you!

It’s the end of the financial year, and continuing with the festive spirit of the New Year, it’s time to see who gets the presents! There are many a charitable organisation for the New Zealand plantlover to lavish favours upon. But this plantlover, while feeling generous, doesn’t have a heap of cash to go round. But I have decided that this year I will show support for those organisations I admire – as much as I can afford.


So who’s membership coffers will benefit from the LovePlantLife endowment fund?  Well, you can help decide. Leave a comment on this post supporting your favourite organisation before July 25. I’ll join the 2 most popular and then pick another two of my favourites to financially support.

And just for showing support for your favourite organisation here, you’ll be in with a chance to win a LovePlantLife prize pack – 6 packets of seeds from the LovePlantLife range, a copy of Save Your Own Seeds and Growing Nutrient-Dense Food by Kay Baxter from Koanga Gardens!

Have I left off your favourite plant-related organisation? Who do you support? Let me know below.

12 worthy New Zealand plant / garden organisations to support

Listed in no particular order, 12 fantastic organisations all thoroughly deserving of my/your/everyone’s donation/support/love.

Forest & Bird

Hysterical about nature since 1923. These people do a hell of a lot of great work. They’ve been wonderful with the anti-mining campaign this year. 40,000 members can’t be wrong! $57 a year gets you 4 magazines, the chance to take part in local branch activities, free entry to some of their 37 reserves and an incredible sense of self-satisfaction.  Join now

Soil & Health Association

The largest membership organisation supporting organic food and farming in NZ, fighting the clean green fight and putting out a great magazine. Strong local groups provide access to a huge information resource, good people and clever ideas. $45 a year furnishes you with 6 quality magazines and surrounds you with a warm healthy non-GE glow.  Join now

Koanga Institute

For the love of plants, please support this organisation! Responsible for the preservation of many of New Zealand’s heirloom food plants, Kay Baxter and her team are the shining lights for NZ seed saving. We love them! $35 gets you access to the golden treasures of the Koanga seed catalogues including 2 free packets twice a year.  Join now

Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Asssociation of New Zealand

Holistic sustainable organic agriculture and horticulture – really, should there be any other kind? Often dismissed for being a bit ‘out-there’, the practices are all based on sound farming principles developed over hundreds of years. $70 – free copies of Harvests, the Calendar, info leaflets and access to preparations & a postal lending library.  Join now

Herb Federation of NZ

I love these people. They are the keepers of such tasty treats, true plantlovers and so terrific at touting tantalising herbs. $35 gives you access to the biennial conference, magazines, lending library, the national seed bank & plant collections and a delicious life – Yummy! There are also local branches around the country.  Join now

New Zealand Botanical Society

Plants are prettier than protons or particle accelerators and therefore the more pleasant science – but you don’t need to be a scientist  to love botany. There are local groups in Auckland, Rotorua, Waikato, Whanganui, Manawatu, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, Otago and Wakatipu. All arrange talks and field trips.

New Zealand Plant Protection Society

Protecting useful or valuable plants from the ravages of pests and weeds, NZPPS puts out the excellent Common Weeds of New Zealand and advocates for better protection and tighter border controls. Aimed more at the scientists and professionals, research is a costly business and this society needs your help. Join now or buy the book

New Zealand Plant Conservation Network

Their mission statement says it all: ‘no indigenous species of plant will become extinct nor be placed at risk of extinction as a result of human action or indifference, and that the rich, diverse and unique plant life of New Zealand will be recognised, cherished and restored‘. These are just simply beautiful people – show them some love for only $35.  Join now

GE-Free New Zealand in Food and Environment

I do not support the New Zealand environment being used as a giant petri dish for genetically modified organisms. I am not anti-science, I am for sensible scientific measures – I don’t see having GMOs released into food and the wild as sensible. Help support this organisation working to stop us being GE guinea pigs.Join now

New Zealand Tree Crops Association

Promoting the sustainable management of tree crops in NZ to home gardeners, orchardists, hobbyists, farmers, investors. This is an excellent organisation with an incredible amount of accessible knowledge and very good publications. $NZ40 introduces you to the exciting world of tree cropping and gets you their quality magazine.  Join now

Tãnes Tree Trust

Promoting native trees for the future is hard work when NZers seem to constantly latch on to exotics fas the next big thing, the wonder plant. Look in our own backyard! NZ has an incredible wealth of plant diversity with great delights still untapped. Support this very worthy organisation for just $30 a year and help increase our biodiversity.  Join now

Project Crimson

Decorating the country with beautiful pohutukawa and rata. This project wouldn’t have got off the ground without the aid of a major sponsor, but the project still requires public support. Not a membership organisation but one that can be supported through fine wine, tshirts, books, textiles, cosmetics or by sponsoring a tree or 20.  Shop now


Wellington/Kapiti: Donate Garden Tools for Refugees

It must be a difficult time of year for refugee families, separated from and often fearing for the safety of loved ones overseas. Spurred on by a request by Refugee Services, I’ve decided to give the gift of gardening this Christmas. And would like to invite you all to join me.

Request from Wellington Refugees as Survivors:

This is a Colombian family (parents and 3 primary school children in NZ, with 3 grown up children still in Colombia) who arrived earlier. Shortly after their arrival the father was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He has nearly finished his 4th round of Chemo Therapy and will have major surgery in January 2010, followed by more Chemo Therapy. He describes himself as a “hard worker” and enjoys gardening. He has developed a huge vegetable garden in his (HNZ) backyard (including composting organic rubbish) for which he would love to have some of his own garden tools (currently he borrows).

Do any of you have a spare hoe, fork, spade that you no longer need? Also a hammer and some new garden gloves.

I’d like to help this family out and get them the gardening tools they require. I’m assuming there are other families who would also be wanting such things so I’d like to collect any garden tools you have left over and disperse them to those who need them. I’ll also contribute a large amount of vegetable and flower seed. Can anyone help?


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