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Water Use, Storage and Conservation

Growing vegetables (and fruit trees) need water.  A lot of the time this is supplied by the rain, but at times in many parts of New Zealand rainfall is in short supply.  The purpose of this page is to give you some tips on how to grow food successfully while still conserving water.

1) Water plants’ roots, not their leaves

Unless plants are dusty and would appreciate a wash, it is best to water the soil below the plants, not their leaves.  (This also helps to prevent mould or mildew problems;  curcubits (cucumbers, pumpkins, melons etc) are especially prone to mould if their leaves get wet.)

2)  Don’t water at midday!

It is best to water plants in the early morning or evening.  Watering in the middle of the day will result in substantial loss of water due to evaporation.

3) Water more, less often

Watering deeply two-three times a week (when necessary) is more efficient in terms of time and water use than watering lightly every day. Soaking the ground properly encourages plants to grow deeper roots which allows them to access moisture which is stored deeper in the  soil. (By contrast, if plants receive a small amount of water each day, they do not bother to grow deep roots.)

4) Mulch!

Applying a layer of mulch on top of garden soil is an effective way to prevent water from evaporating from the soil.  Grass clippings*, spoiled hay*, untreated sawdust,  wood shavings from chicken houses, pea straw, bamboo leaves etc can all be useful forms of mulch.  (Sawdust and wood shavings have the disadvantage that they can deplete soil nitrogen as it breaks down and cause your plants’ leaves to turn yellow and retard plant growth.  If you use these you may need to add extra nitrogen containing fertilisers to compensate.)

It is also important to leave a space around the base of plants:  Do not mulch right up against the base of plants (or trunks of trees) as this can cause the stems or trunks to rot.


NB: Please note that grass clippings and hay used as mulch (or added to compost heaps) should come from spray free lawns/fields. The herbicide aminopyralid can contaminate grass and hay – and manure from animals that have eaten contaminated grass and hay.  Using aminopyralid contaminated ingredients can poison soil (or compost) and kill many types of vegetable plants including lettuce, beans and tomatoes. (See http://www.compostgardening.com/ and http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2011/jul/15/vegetables-disease-aminopyralid-pesticide?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487 )   In NZ aminopyralid is sold by Dow under the brand names “T-Max” and “Tordon Brush Killer XT”.


At times of water shortages:

If water is in short supply, and your garden is in danger of dying, one option is to use grey water to water lawns, fruit trees and vegetables.  “Grey water” is water that has been used for washing.  Its use does carry the risk of potentially spreading disease such as those that are transfered via the “faecal-oral” route such as hepatitis A or other bacteria/viruses that may be present in faeces and that may contaminate grey water as bodies or underwear are washed.

To minimise this risk, the following precautions should be taken:

1)  If saving water from a shower (such as by putting a plug into the bath allowing the shower water to accumulate in the bath or catching it in a bucket) wash carefully around the genitals etc and rinse well before putting in the plug or collecting water in bucket.

2)  If saving water from a washing machine, do not include underwear or nappies in any load of washing from which you plan to save the rinse water. (NB:  If you decide to use water from your washing machine to water your garden, use only soap flakes (or grated soap) in your machine for these washes, or use the long life eco “laundry balls” – see  http://www.manaproducts.co.nz/laundry-balls.asp 

Do not use grey water from loads of washing which have been washed with modern washing powders and detergents that contain enzymes and toxic ingredients that may damage your plants.  It is also undesirable to water plants with laundry that was washed in washing soda as washing soda is high in sodium.)

3)  If using grey water, allow it to cool sufficiently that it will not stress your plants then use it immediately.  Stored grey water quickly becomes fetid as bacteria (from skin, dirt on clothes etc) multiply.  Stored grey water  should not be used for irrigation.

4)  If you water garden plants with grey water, ideally water only the soil beneath the plants, not the plants’ leaves.

Important:  If you decide to use grey water to water your garden, ensure that any produce your harvest is washed extra carefully and that children wash their hands after playing out doors. If someone in the household is immunocompromised, using grey water may pose an unacceptable health risk, even if taking the precautions outlined above.


Catch your own water!


Plants grow better on rain water!  If you are a serious gardener – and have the money to spare – it is worthwhile considering  a rain water tank.  There are a number of options ranging from concrete, plastic and steel.  Each of these types have advantages and disadvantages:  be sure that you are ware of these before you buy.   There are also do-it-yourself plans on the net.  If making any sort of rainwater storage tank yourself, ensure that it is constructed in such a way that it does not pose a drowning hazard for small children or pets or a breeding ground for mosquitos.  It is also a good idea to fence off the area surrounding water tanks as a precaution against the small risk of some sort of structural failure of the tank or its supports – such as during an earthquake.



Categories: Gardening Information, Water Use, Storage and Conservation

Growing Employment Opportunities

Food is something that no one can do without, so producing food is a career option well worth considering.

In NZ there are long waiting lists in the public hospital system and health insurance costs are increasing.  There are a growing number of people suffering from diseases that are often (although not always) related to poor nutrition such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental health problems and obesity.  Many people have made the connection between bad diet and bad health and there is an increasing market for good quality food as people realise they don’t want to (or can’t afford to) get sick.

People who know how to grow food have a skill that they can use to seek employment on existing farms, become self-employed or work with others in cooperative ventures.

Much of the produce sold in NZ is bought by large wholesalers and then sold by the wholesalers to retail outlets.  However there are a number of smaller outlets that buy produce that provide an alternative to supplying produce to wholesalers.  There is also the option of selling your produce directly to another person or business through this website:  http://homegrownmaps.co.nz/ 

Other potential outlets for fresh produce include:

Farmers’ Markets:

There are now farmers’ markets (where growers and farmers can rent a stall at a marketplace and sell food directly to customers) in most major towns and cities in NZ.   (See http://www.farmersmarkets.org.nz/ )
Locations and contact details for organisers may be seen at this link:

Businesses that deliver fresh fruit and vegetables to people’s homes:

There are a number of online businesses that buy fresh produce from producers and deliver it to their customers.  Businesses of this type include:


Ooooby is an acronym that stands for “Out of our own backyards”.  Ooooby is a business that delivers a box of locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables to its customers on a weekly basis.  It is based in Auckland and buys produce from growers (including home gardeners) within a 200 km radius of the city.  Produce need not be certified organic.


Online Farmers Market

This is a business that buys fresh fruit and vegetables, honey etc and sells it through its online store.


Businesses that deliver organic produce

There are a number of these serving different areas of New Zealand.  Below is a sampling of websites.   (Google “organic delivery” + your town/city to find a local home delivery business in your area that may be interested in buying fruit or vegetables you can produce.)  These businesses probably require their food to have organic certification (see this page http://www.growtogether.org.nz/category/gardening-information/organic-certification/) but it may be worth enquiring as to whether they ever take uncertified produce.

http://www.eco-organics.co.nz/home_del.htm (Auckland based – delivers to Auckland and much of the North Island)
http://www.naturallyorganic.co.nz/ (Auckland based – delivers nationwide)
http://www.organicconnection.co.nz/ (Delivers to Wellington, Wairarapa, Manawatu)
https://www.justorganic.co.nz/ (Delivers to Christchurch, Canterbury, elsewhere in the South lsland)

Local wholefood/organic shops

Wholefood and organic shops in NZ usually get most of their organic produce from organic wholesalers; however some may buy directly from growers so it is worth enquiring at these stores what sort of produce they may want to buy and whether they take uncertified produce.

Local Restaurants

Some foods that are valued by gourmet restaurants (such as red cherry tomatoes or golden pear-shaped miniature tomatoes) are ridiculously easy to grow.  (They grow like weeds – although they can be vulnerable to the new potato psyllid pest, so may now require extra care to get a good crop in affected areas: See:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/life-style/5409621/Dangerous-new-pest-can-wipe-out-potato-crops)

It is worth asking local (or not so local) restaurants what sort of produce they need; crops such as microgreens or gourmet lettuce/mesclun etc salad mixes that are popular in fine restaurants are not difficult to grow organically and could be a good source of income.

Conclusion:  The ideas on this page are obviously not the last word about the sorts of employment or income-generating opportunities open to people with gardening skills but intended to give an idea of the potential that developing organic gardening skills has in helping people find work or start their own businesses.

Categories: Growing Employment Opportunities

Organic Gardening Supplies

The purpose of this page is to list products that can be used in organic gardening to help beginner gardeners to get started.  This page is a work in progress: if you have suggestions for good products that should be included on this page, please email through the Contact form.

A comprehensive list of products that can be used in organic production may be downloaded from the following link of BioGro’s website:



A very  comprehensive and helpful list of gardening supplies in NZ may be found at this link:


(NB:  Not all the products in this directory are organic, although many of them are.  If you are working towards organic certification it is important to make sure you use approved products or you may jeopardise your certification.)


Composting Systems (NZ Made)

(NB:  For more information about composting and how to build your own composting system,  please see the Compost page)

1) General compost makers


Horto Compost Bins

Vitality for Life


2)  Worm farms

Earthly Delight

Pottbusry Farms

Worms Are Us


3) Bokashi Bucket Composting Systems

Bokashi Boost

Zing Bokashi


Businesses that Supply Bulk Compost





Dalton’s supply BioGro certified potting mix and compost products in bags in garden centres and in bulk.




Weathersfield supply BioGro certified potting mix and well aged compost in bags and in bulk.  They also grow organic seedlings.



Lower North Island

Composting NZ

0800 888 200 (producing a BioGro certified product)

A note about commercially prepared compost:  Some brands of compost incorporate sewage sludge (often called “biosolids” into their compost.  This is best avoided as sewerage sludge can be contaminated with heavy metals. Sewerage sludge is not permitted under organic certification schemes.

Some commercially prepared (and home made compost) is too “green” – meaning that it contains too high a proportion of bits of stick, bark etc that has not yet rotted down. As the “green” compost begins to break down in your garden, it can deplete nitrogen levels in the  the soil, causing plants’ leaves to yellow.  Applying a nitrogen rich fertiliser will help if this is the problem





This company supplies BioGro certified fertilisers, including RokSolid, a full spectrum powdered fertiliser.



Fieldgro Fish Fertiliser

Contains Biogro certified ingredients. Helps strengthen plants against attacks by insect pests.

Phone Paul Field on 09 278 6469




The following organisations supply seeds for heritage plant varieties.  seeds from heritage plants can be saved from year to year, so they are recommended. Growing these seeds also helps preserve rare plant varieties.


Eco Seeds Ltd   http://www.ecoseeds.co.nz/

This business supplies heritage seeds, some of which are certified organic.


Koanga Gardens    http://www.koanga.org.nz/

Started by Kay Baxter, this organisation has saved a large range of organic heritage seed varieties.  Some of its seeds are available from health food stores and other outlets that sell seeds, while others are available to members only.  http://www.koanga.org.nz/koanga-seeds


Kings Seeds   http://www.kingsseeds.co.nz/

This business supplies a wide range of seeds, some are organic some are not.  Some imported seeds have to be treated with fungicide (this is a MAF requirement). Seeds that have been treated are identified with a sticker. Some organic seeds are coated in a seed enhancement agent.





Weathersfield supplies organic seedlings (grown from heritage seeds) to retailers up and down the country.  Their outlets may be seen at this link: http://www.weathersfieldorganics.co.nz/2157.html

Categories: Gardening Information, Organic Gardening Supplies

Community Gardens Directory

Community gardens are a great place to learn gardening skills, share your knowledge with others and make new friends.

The community gardens in this directory are listed mostly from North to South.   For those community gardens where there is little information, more details will be added as soon as they are available.

If your community garden is not listed here please contact the site coordinator through the Contact Form.  Many Marae also have community gardens:  websites for some Marae gardens may be found on the Marae Gardens page of this site at this link: http://www.growtogether.org.nz/category/community-gardens-and-other-projects/marae-gardens/

NB:  Some email addresses on this page have been altered to reduce the chances of their being picked up by bots that patrol the net and then spammed.  For example, an email that would normally be written Name@organisation.org.nz may be altered to read Name [at] organisation.org.nz or Name [at symbol] organisation [dot ] org [dot] nz.




Oromahoe Community Garden
Oromahoe Primary School, Oromahoe


Rangihamama Garden Community Project
34 Ngapuhi Rd, Kaikohe




Auckland Teaching Gardens: 


This scheme gives beginner gardeners a chance to learn to garden in a plot of land in a park with the assistance of a mentor.  After participating in this programme, people will have have the skills they need to establish a garden at home.

The contact people for each garden are below:





Vija Kumar     09 2788154

Rebecca Ru  0221261814



Digger Harris   0210670786

Daya Ram        09 2754776



Yvonne Thomas   0274997006

Graeme Hansen   0211528020



Gordon Muir  09 2637511

Monday Poaiti  0211068385


Maich Rd

Don Armstrong 02108537669


East Tamaki

Zahoor  Sheik 0211862384


Chairman of Auckland Teaching Gardens

Gary Halton



Panmure East Residents Association Community Garden


4a Coral Crescent Panmure, Auckland 1072
This garden has been running for five years (as of 2015) and its open days are Friday and Sundays 9:30 am- 11:30am or you may visit by setting up a time. Then contact person is Nerissa Henry 021 073 6995


Ranui Community Gardens
Ranui, Waitakere

The coordinator for this garden can be emailed on Ranui-garden@hotmail.co.nz.

You can also find information about this garden on Facebook in the community pages under “Ranui garden” or Ranui community house website at this link http://www.ranuicommunityhouse.co.nz/community-garden.html.



Millbrook Edible Gardens (MEG)
Sunnyvale, Waitakere



Te Atatu Peninsula Community Garden
Te Atatu Peninsula, Waitakere



CCS Disability Action Community Garden
Royal Oak, Auckland



Grey Lynn Community Gardens
Grey Lynn, Auckland
Wilton Street Community Garden
Wilton Street, Grey Lynn, Auckland



Kingsland Community Gardens
Kingsland, Auckland


Mangere Community Gardens
Mangere Community Health Trust, Manukau




Highland Park Community House Community Garden

427 Pakuranga Highway behind the Eastgate Community Centre. For more information 09-534-5584

This garden is currently (June 2013) running a course called “The Healthy Edible Garden” on Mondays from 1 to 2.30 pm each week.

This organic vegetable gardening course will give you the confidence to start your own vegetable patch, even if you’ve never sown a seed before. 427 Pakuranga Highway behind the Eastgate Community Centre. For more information 09-534-5584


Devonport Community Garden
Mt Cambria Reserve, Devonport



Kelmarna Organic City Farm
12 Hukanui Crescent, Herne Bay. Tel (09) 376 0472. Open most days 9am-5pm



Waterview Community Garden
Meets Saturday Morning at Waterview Primary School, Oakley Ave entrance



EcoMatters Environment Trust Community Gardens
1 & 4 Olympic Place, New Lynn, Waitakere


Bay of Plenty


Whakatane Community Gardens

20 King Street

Hannah Irakau Pehi 027 513 4703
whakatanecommunitygardens [at symbol] hotmail [dot] com

This garden offers 50% of our kiwifruit crate beds to community groups and schools, and the remaining beds are cared for by volunteers with the aim of providing free food and education to the community. The food is distributed to the community by having it available on two produce stands situated on site.


Titirangi Community Garden
Behind Te Poho o Rawiri Marae, Ranfurly St, Kaiti, Gisborne



Te Runanga o Te Whanau a Apanui Community Gardens
Whitianga, near the mouth of the Motu River


Ruatoki Community Gardens
Maori Women’s Welfare League / Te Huinga a Matariki ki Tuhoe.

Phone Mina Timutimu 07-312 9222, Hine Kane 07-312 9606 or Sandy Watene 07-312 9377


KEA (Kawerau Enterprise Agency) Community Gardens Project
Situated behind the House of Hope, Tamarangi Drive, Kawerau. Phone Kelly 07-323 7377 or email kelly@kea.org.nz


Let’s Get Growing

This is an allotment-style community garden in the Otumoetai Railway Reserve on Otumoetai Road, Tauranga





Waikato Community Gardens Network
The Network was formed in 2011 and meets twice a year.  The Network has a Google Group email list at this link https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/waikato-community-gardens-network with open membership where you can hear about events, open days, etc.


Grandview Community Garden

Located in Grandview Road, Grandview, Hamilton.
A Waikato International Community Garden Project (WIC)
http://ooooby.ning.com/group/wic – see the Community Gardening discussion
Phone Clare and Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 224 3109 to arrange a visit or to start a garden.



Bright Smile Community Garden
712 Mackay Street, Thames


Hannah’s Bay Community Gardens

Hannahs Bay Reserve, Rotorua.  This has been in operation for eight years. Contact Denise La Grouw denisel@clear.net.nz



Central North Island

Awhi Farm
129 Atirau Road, Turangi






Opunake Community Gardens
Heaphy Road, Opunake


Marfell Community Garden
Marfell Combined Culture Centre, 56 Cook St, Marfell, New Plymouth. Phone Janeen on (06) 7580035. Open Tuesday and Wednesday from 10.30am-3pm, plus many free weekend workshops and gardening bees. Look out for ads in the Midweek community newspaper.


Aramoho Community Garden and Food Forest
Wai Ora, 49 Brunswick Road, Aramoho, Whanganui. Contact Wai Ora (06) 343-5015




Brandon Street Intermediate School Garden
Cannons Creek, Porirua

The garden is on the school grounds.  For more information contact Alicia Rich at alicia.rich [at] brandon.school.nz


Commonground (Wellington)

This is a garden developed in a partnership between community members and Sisters of Compassion, who are providing land for the garden.  For more information please see the website:



Innermost Gardens

There are two gardens run by Innermost Gardens in Wellington.  One is on Mount Victoria, and the other is in Newtown.  Please see their website for details:



Kai O Te Aro in Aro Valley, Wellington


Moera Community Garden

105 Randwick Crescent, Moera

Contact: Paul Kennett 027 442 1055 or paul [at]kennett.co.nz

Martin de Jong 568 6202 marmac [at] paradise.net.nz


Northern Community Gardens

Jay Street Reserve, Paparangi, Wellington
Web: www.ncg.org.nz  (If the site is not yet up it will be running soon!)
Facebook: “Northern Community Gardens”



Operation Green Thumb Wellington Community Gardens
Various sites around town see: http://www.communitygardenz.org.nz/


Te Maara Garden
Cornwall St
Cannons Creek Porirua

This is a community garden & orchard with food available for anyone.
The big potato plot belongs to the food bank.
The garden is wild because it needs more volunteers; it would be great to have community groups adopt a part of the garden.

Te Maara Garden holds successful community events occur twice a year: Autumn Hangi and Spring Organic Festival.

There are three mosaics in the centre of the garden that were produced by Kerry who is an expert mosaic artist.  it is a nice spot to visit for a picnic.

For more information see the Te Maara Garden Facebook site.



Other Wellington Gardens

This helpful link on the website of the Wellington City Council lists community gardens and orchards in Wellington, as well as funding  sources for gardens in Wellington.



Nelson region

Motueka Organic Community Gardens
This garden has moved and is now on Old Wharf Road, Motueka.

We have working bees tuesday 7pm, Friday 9am and Sundays 1pmt is on Old Wharf road Motueka.We have working bees on Tuesday at 7pm, Friday at 9am and Sundays at 1pm


Golden Bay Community Gardens/Seed Exchange
24 Waitapu Rd, Tasman, Nelson



Waimarama Community Gardens
Tantragee Rd, The Brook, Nelson





Marlborough Community Garden
Ralph Ballinger Drive off Budge Street, Riversdale, Blenheim. Phone Tina Fortune (03) 579-3599



Linwood Community Resource Centre
332 Linwood Avenue, Christchurch
New Brighton Community Gardens
136 Shaw Ave, Christchurch


Packe St Park
125 Packe St, Christchurch


Paparoa Community Activities Centre
380 Waterloo Rd, Christchurch


Strickland St Community Gardens
188 Strickland St, Christchurch


Lyttelton Community Garden
54a Oxford Street, behind the pool in Lyttelton. Gardening session from 10am to 12:30 on Wednesdays followed by a shared meal


Timaru Community Garden
Oxford Street, opposite the end of Sheratt Street


Okeover Community Garden
Beside Okeover Stream, on path between Ilam Road and Engineering Road, University of Canterbury. Open to the whole community, Fridays 2-5pm



West Coast

Westland Community Garden
Lazar Park, corner of Park and Hall Street, Hokitika. Phone Glenys at the Westland District Council, 03 756-9082


Hokitika Community Garden

This garden is a partnership between Poutini Waiora and WESTReap and is on Fitzherbert St, Hokitika (next to Hokitika automotive.)  The garden coordinator will be working at the garden most Mondays from 3 pm to 5 pm and will also be running gardening workshops from time to time.



Dunedin Community Gardens
Shetland Street Reserve, Kaikorai Valley, Dunedin


Waitati Edible Gardens
Waitati, Otago



Speargrass Flat Road
Speargrass Flat Road, Queenstown


Mataura Community Garden
Kana Street, Mataura


Waitaki Community Gardens, Oamaru

email: waicomgardens@hotmail.com
Contact Annie Beattie 03 434 8891


Acknowledgment: Most of the information on this page is sourced from the following link at the website of Good magazine.


Categories: Community Gardens and Other Projects, Community Gardens Directory | Tags: , ,

Food Banks

Food Banks in NZ  are currently struggling with increased need for food combined with lower donations.  This page lists food banks in most parts of New Zealand. If you are need food or are in a position to donate food or money, please contact a food bank in your area.  The Salvation Army has food banks in many different parts of the country: for ease of compilation, all the contact details for regional Salvation Army offices are grouped together after the other food banks.

Auckland Foodbanks

Auckland City Mission
PO Box 5352
Wellesley St
Phone 09 358 4830

The Auckland City Mission’s “Community Food Programme” regularly supplies food to around 70 food banks and community groups throughout greater Auckland. For more information, check out their website: www.aucklandcitymission.org.nz/ and click on the “Crisis and Community Care” button if you need food.  If you would like to donate food please email distribution@aucklandcitymission.org.nz or phone 09 377 4322.  The programme is dependent on donations from businesses and individuals in order to be able to give food to people in need.

Wellington Foodbanks

Coalition of Wellington Regional Food Banks
C/- PO Box 6133
Marion Square
Phone 04 384 7699

Check out the Wellington Coalition’s list of local Food Banks which provide emergency food assistance: www.standrews.org.nz/dcm/foodbank/coalition.html


Downtown Community Ministry
Phone: 04 384 7699
Fax: 04 384 7688
Address: Compassion House, Luke’s Lane,
Te Aro, Wellington; PO Box 6133, Marion Square.
Website: www.dcm.org.nz
Email: office@dcm.org.nz
Monday and Friday 1.30pm – 3.30pm. Central City residents only. After your first visit a WINZ decline letter or other community referral letter is required.

Johnsonville Food Bank
Phone: 04 478 5698; Jan 04 478 8628
Fax: 04 478 5690
Address: Corner Frankmoore Avenue & Moorefield Road Johnsonville
Website: www.cab.org.nz
Email: cab.johnsonville@xtra.co.nz
You must be a local resident and bring a decline letter from Work and Income. Located in the Johnsonville Community Centre, open five days a week. Morning interviews until 11.30am, afternoon pick–ups.

Kapiti Food Bank
Phone: Hamish 04 298 1907
Address: 10 McGrath Avenue Paraparaumu 10am–12pm, weekdays. A referral letter from a community agency or a Work and Income decline letter is required.

Wadestown Food Bank
Phone: Phyl 04 475 3281 or Dawn 04 479 1559
By appointment only. Please phone on weekdays by 10.30 am on the day requesting food.
Lower Hutt Food Bank
Phone: Glenda 04 570 6858,
021 128 9377
Address: 14 Laings Road, Hutt City Council Buildings 9am–11.30am, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday. Behind Hutt City Council building. After your first visit a Work and Income decline letter or referral letter from a budget service or other support agency is required.

Massey at Wellington Students Association (MAWSA)
Phone: 04 801 2540
Fax: 04 801 2541
Address: Level 2 Student Centre,
Massey University Entrance E,
Tasman Street, Wellington
Website: www.mawsa.org.nz
Open 9am–4pm weekdays for Massey internal students only. Students are entitled to one parcel a year.

Miramar and Strathmore Food Bank
Phone: Food bank: 04 388 1982,
Mary: 04 972 6508
Arranges food parcels to be picked up Tuesday and Friday in both suburbs. Emergency food parcels available.

Newlands Community House Food Bank
Phone: 04 478 879
Fax: 04 478 8799
Address: 23 Bachelor Street, Newlands
Email: nch1@kol.co.nz
Local residents can contact Tracy on weekdays 9.30am to 12pm. Two parcels are given before referral to budgeting advice (from Agape Budgeting or Johnsonville CAB).

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (Porirua)
Phone: 04 237 59 68
Address: 18 Mungavin Avenue, Porirua
Call the shop Monday–Friday 10am–3pm. Delivery is during the day and people need to be at home. A form needs to be filled out as well as an interview in order for staff to determine how to further support people. Food is delivered by volunteers.

Stokes Valley Community House
Phone: 04 972 5758
Address: 212 Stokes Valley Road,
Stokes Valley; PO Box 37042
Stokes Valley
Email: svchadmin@clear.net.nz
Providing bread and veggies on Fridays between 12pm–1pm.

Upper Hutt Food Bank
Phone: 04 528 9057
Address: 64 Martin St, Upper Hutt; PO Box 40862 Upper Hutt
9am–11.45am, Monday and Wednesday and Friday. Closed on public holidays. People must bring proof of address. After receiving four parcels people will be sent to receive budget advice.

NB: At every visit, Customers should bring Community Services Card or SuperGold card, plus Photo ID if they have them and recent evidence of address.
Victoria University of Wellington Students Association (VUWSA)
Phone: Welfare vice president 04 463 6985
Fax: 04 463 6990
Address: Ground Floor, Student Union Building, Victoria University, Kelburn,
Website: www.vuwsa.org.nz
Email: wvp@vuw.ac.org
12pm–2pm week days. For enrolled Victoria University students only. Food parcels are provided on the basis of need.

Wainuiomata Food Bank
Phone: 04 939 0842
Address: 33 Parkway, Wainuiomata
Email: carolynfreedman@hotmail.com
This Food Bank is open 9am–12pm, Monday and Thursday for local residents only.

Wellington City Mission Food Bank (Newtown)
Phone: 04 389 2033
Fax: 04 389 2109
Address: 200 Riddiford Street, Newtown
Website: www.wgtncitymission.org.nz
Email: enquiries@wgtncitymission.org.nz
10am–3pm, Monday to Friday. Interview required. ID is required for first timers and preferably receipts or a decline letter from Work and Income. For subsequent visits a decline letter or other community referral letter is required.

Wesley Wellington Mission Porirua
Phone: 04 237 7923,
Fax: 04 237 7952
Address: 206 Mungavin Avenue,
Cannon’s Creek, Porirua;
PO Box 53050 Porirua
Email: wporirua@wesleyca.org.nz
9.30am–12pm, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. We give out food parcels, not food vouchers. Proof of address needed. Other services are also provided.

Christchurch Foodbanks

Christchurch City Mission
275 Hereford Street, Central Christchurch.
Phone: 03 365 0635. Email: info@citymission.org.nz

Dunedin Foodbanks

Community Helping Agency Group
C/-Anglican Methodist Care
PO Box 5219
Phone 03 477 0801

Salvation Army Listings:

(I apologise for the fact that the email links do not work in this section.  I will fix them as soon as I have time.)

Northern Divisional Headquarters
691A Mt Albert Road,
Royal Oak, Auckland
Phone: (09) 639 1103
Email: Northern Divisional Headquarters through this page http://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/centres/nz/northland
(Covers Auckland and Northland)

Midland Divisional Headquarters
12 Vialou Street,
Phone: (07) 839 2242
Email: Midland Divisional Headquarters through this page http://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/centres/nz/waikato
(Covers Waikato, Bay of Plenty and East Coast)

Lower North Island

Central Divisional Headquarters
204 Cuba Street,
Phone: (04) 384 4713
Email: Central Divisional Headquarters through this page http://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/centres/nz/lower-north-island
(Covers Wellington and Wairarapa)

Nelson / Marlborough

Southern Divisional Headquarters
71 Peterborough Street,
Phone: (03) 377 0799 or (03) 377 0250
Email: Southern Divisional Headquarters through this page http://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/centres/nz/nelson-marlborough

West Coast
Southern Divisional Headquarters
71 Peterborough Street,
Phone: (03) 377 0799 or (03) 377 0250
Email: Southern Divisional Headquarters through this page  http://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/centres/nz/west-coast

Southern Divisional Headquarters
71 Peterborough Street,
Phone: (03) 377 0799 or (03) 377 0250
Email: Southern Divisional Headquarters  through this page http://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/centres/nz/canterbury

Otago / Southland
Southern Divisional Headquarters
71 Peterborough Street,
Phone: (03) 377 0799 or (03) 377 0250
Email: Southern Divisional Headquarters through this page http://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/centres/nz/otago-southland

Categories: Food Banks, Help Offered

Gardening Basics

The Community Food Network advocates organic gardening for the following reasons:

* Organic food contains higher levels of trace minerals and other micronutrients
* Growing food organically is safe for children and pets, as it does not involve the use of toxic pesticides which can cause health problems – and also harm wildlife and the environment.  (The use of snail baits that contain the poison metaldehyde, for example can cause an extremely unpleasant death for animals and birds that eat the pellets or poisoned slugs or snails.)
* Organic gardening makes good use of what would otherwise be waste products such as food scraps, grass clippings, hedge trimmings etc, thus reducing pressure on landfills

If you are an experienced gardener, you may not need to read this page.  If you are a beginner this page is for you!

The Soil and Health Association (which publishes the excellent magazine Organic NZ) has made the very helpful little book Organic Gardening available for free on their website:


NB: If this link does not take you to the exact page on the Organic NZ website, select the tab marked “Organic” from the menu near the top of the page and click on “Organic Gardening” from the  drop down menu.

Organic Gardening  is an extremely good beginner guide to gardening.  (Organic Gardening can also be purchased for just $9.90 from the Organic NZ book club (See: http://www.organicnz.org/bookclub/  or phone 09 419 4536.)

Each issue of Organic NZ also includes useful articles about different aspects of organic growing.  See the website for more information: http://www.organicnz.org/

The Soil and Health Association also has local branches that offer regular meetings with guest speakers sharing their expertise and/or trips to successful organic farms or gardens.  These events are listed in each issue of Organic NZ magazine.

There a few rules that help beginner gardeners to be successful:

1)  Grow foods you and your family like – that will keep you motivated.
2)  Some crops are easier to grow than others.  It is best to start with easy crops first.  Vegetables that can easily be grown by beginner gardeners in most parts of NZ include silverbeet, kale, beetroot, lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, jerusalem artichokes and green beans – bush beans are easier than climbing types.
3)  Choose open pollinated heirloom seeds, preferably those that come from your local area or another part of NZ with a similar climate.  This will help ensure you have seeds that suit your growing conditions.  Also the end of the growing season, you can save seeds from these plants for the following year. (See the Seed Saving and/or Organic Gardening Supplies page for a list of organisations/businesses that supply open-pollinated heirloom seeds.)
4)  A smaller garden is easier to start with, rather than a large garden.  (Once you have more experience you can expand.)
5)  Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from family, friends or neighbours who have more gardening experience.

Categories: Gardening Basics, Gardening Information

Health and Safety

Health and Safety

In general, gardening is an activity that is very positive in terms of health and well being.  People who take up gardening can expect to gain strength, flexibility and a higher level of general fitness.  Most people find gardening relaxing and enjoy a sense of achievement as their efforts bear fruit.
Then of course there are the health benefits of food fresh from the garden which has not lost nutrients during transportation or storage. However, like virtually any other activity there are risks of gardening.  This page is designed to help you minimise them.

The risks generally fall into three categories:

1)  Risk of injury
2)  Risk of infection – from inhaled microorganisms or those that may enter the body via broken skin
3)  Risk of exposure to rodent-borne diseases
4)  Risk of children accidentally being poisoned by garden products or drowning in buckets etc
5)  Risk of producing food that is inadvertently contaminated with heavy metals or other toxic substances

I will deal with these each at a time:

1)  Risk of injury and/or over-exertion

This can be minimised through commonsense.  Take care when lifting heavy items such as bags of potting mix.  This link has a guide to how to minimise the risk of injury when lifting heavy objects:


Remember:  Bend from your knees. Do not use your back as a crane!

If you are unfit, take it easy to start with or you may find that using of muscles that you do not usually use may result in your being quite stiff and sore the next morning.  If you have serious health problems (such as cardiovascular disease) it may be sensible to ask your health professional’s advice before gardening.

Ensure you have sufficient water to drink when gardening in hot weather.


2)  Risk of infection

Compost and potting mixes can contain microorganisms (such as Legionella longbeachae that can cause Legionnaires disease –  a serious and potentially fatal infection) that can be harmful if inhaled.  For this reason, bags of compost etc come with a warning not to inhale dusts from these products.  For this reason, it is essential to ensure that these products are damp when handling them and best to wear a P2 rated mask to minimise exposure to dusts that may contain potentially pathogenic organisms. While it is rare to become ill from using these products, the risk is real and should be taken seriously. People who are most at risk are those whose immune systems are suppressed due to illness or the use of certain medications such as steroids or drugs used in cancer chemotherapy.  If you have been handling compost and develop a temperature and signs of a chest infection, make sure that you tell your doctor when you seek medical help so that the appropriate tests can be done.

Microorganisms in compost, potting mix and garden soil also pose risks if they enter the body through cuts in the skin. For this reason, cuts or grazes should be covered with sticking plasters before gardening.  If you injure yourself while gardening, wounds should naturally be washed properly. Cleaning out the wound with hydrogen peroxide (available from pharmacies) is a good idea if the wound is deep as the hydrogen peroxide can help bubble dirt out of the wound.

Tetanus bacteria may be present in ordinary garden soil and occasionally people (mostly elderly women) contract tetanus as a result of gardening.  Although tetanus is very rare, it can unfortunately be fatal even with good medical treatment.  Adding high doses of vitamin C (administered by injection) to the standard treatment for tetanus was shown to reduce the mortality rate in a study in Bangladesh.  See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6466264

Special infection risks for pregnant women:

Garden soil may become contaminated with the parasite toxoplasma gondii (from cat faeces) which can cause toxoplasmosis (from cat faeces). Toxoplasmosis infections are often mild or  asymptomatic. However developing toxoplasmosis during pregnancy can cause the baby to be born with birth defects and brain damage.  The baby may also be born premature.  For this reason, pregnant women should wear gloves when gardening and wash their hands thoroughly after gardening.  They should also avoid handling cat litter boxes and ensure that meat is well cooked as undercooked meat may be a source of toxoplasma gondii. (If you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, your midwife or doctor can organise a blood test to see whether or not you are already immune to toxoplasmosis.)


3)  Rodent borne-diseases

Home compost heaps that contain food scraps can become a magnet for rats and mice wanting a free feed.  This may be avoided by designing (or altering) a compost heap in such a way as to excludes rats and mice. (See the Compost page).  Compost heaps that do allow rats and mice to have access to the pile may mean that rodent urine containing leptospira bacteria (the cause of leptospirosis) can contaminate the compost.  An increased rodent population also poses a particular threat to people who are on tank water, since if rats run along the roof, their urine may end up being washed into the water supply.

Leptospirosis can is serious infection that can become life threatening (although it is very rarely fatal) in people. (See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002352/ ) The infection can also kill young dogs and affect farm animals.


4)  Risk of children accidentally being poisoned by garden products or drowning

Even certified organic gardening products that are very low risk when used as directed have the potential to cause serious illness if accidentally ingested by a young child.  Keep all gardening products OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.

Young children’s head’s are much heavier in comparison to their bodies’ than those of older children and adults. They are therefore at risk from drowning in small amounts of water as they may not be able to lift their head out of, for example, a bucket, into which they have peered into to investigate.     (See http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5006.html )

If you have young children or the area where you are gardening is accessible to young children, ensure that there are no buckets or other containers that could present a drowning hazard. Even a partially filled bucket can be dangerous.

If you are making seaweed tea or other home-made liquid fertilisers, ensure that these have lids that cannot be removed by a young child.  (Having a lid will also prevent these from attracting flies.)


5)  Minimise heavy metal contamination of food

If you are going to take the time to grow food, you will want to grow food that is the highest quality that you can – and avoid accidentally poisoning yourself and your family.  The following tips should minimise the heavy metal content of food you produce.

*  Do not grow food around the edges of buildings (houses, sheds etc) built before 1980 as in NZ lead-based paint was still in use until this time and may have flaked off and contaminated the soil (or been scraped from the walls on the soil during renovations.)

*  Avoid using tanilised timber as garden edgings as the arsenic used in this timber treatment process can contaminate the soil.

* Avoid using recycled wood for garden edgings as it may have been painted with lead-based paint.

*  Avoid using newspapers for mulch as the inks may contain heavy metals and aluminium compounds are used in the production of newsprint.

* Avoid using commercial compost products that contain sewerage sludge (often labelled as “biosolids”) as sewerage sludge has the potential to be contaminated with heavy metals.


To summarise:

*  Ensure that compost, potting mix etc is damp so to minimise exposure to dusts
*  It is advisable to wear a mask when handling compost etc
*  Always cover cuts, grazes etc before gardening
*  Carefully clean any cuts or scratches you may sustain while gardening
*  Pregnant women should always wear gloves while gardening
*  Dispose of cat litter into the rubbish;  do not compost it
*  Always wash your hands well after gardening

Handy Tip!  If you don’t wear gloves while gardening, poking your fingers into a cake of soap before gardening so that a layer of soap is pushed beneath your nails. This prevents dirt from getting behind your nails and makes your hands much easier to clean afterwards.

Categories: Gardening Information, Health and Safety


Composting involves turning unwanted waste such as food scraps, lawn clippings, hedge trimming etc into valuable plant food.

There are three main types of composting systems:
*  traditional composting piles or heaps that rely on heat to break down plant matter;
*  vermiculture systems such as domestic or commercial worm farms where worms do all the work and produce a valuable liquid fertiliser;
*  and the bokashi system which involves composting food scraps in a bucket with the help of special microorganisms.


A good guide to all these systems may be read at the following website:


Create Your Own Eden also runs regular FREE composting workshops in Auckland:


The schedule for 2012 classes that are held in Auckland (and booking info) is at this link:



This link at the site of The Soil and Health Association has useful information about composting, including what sort of plant nutrients are supplied by different materials. http://www.organicnz.org/organic-gardening-soil/

NB: Please note that grass clippings, hay and manure added to compost heaps should come from spray free lawns/fields. The herbicide aminopyralid can contaminate grass and hay and manure from animals that have eaten contaminated grass and hay.  Using aminopyralid contaminated ingredients can result in a compost that kills many types of vegetable plants including lettuce, beans and tomatoes. (See http://www.compostgardening.com/ and http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2011/jul/15/vegetables-disease-aminopyralid-pesticide?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487 )   In NZ aminopyralid is sold by Dow under the brand names “T-Max” and “Tordon Brush Killer XT”.

It is also a good idea not to compost imported bananas as some very toxic pesticides are used in banana plantations.


The site below is totally dedicated to compost, and though it is an American, has a lot of information that is relevant to NZ, including how to build different styles of compost heaps.


This link shows how to make a worm farm out of recycled materials.


There are some potential health risks from handling compost; please read the Health and Safety page of this site for details.


NZ Made Composting Systems

1) General compost makers


Horto Compost Bins

Vitality for Life


2)  Worm farms

Earthly Delight

Pottbusry Farms

Worms Are Us


3) Bokashi Bucket Composting Systems

Bokashi Boost

Zing Bokashi


Businesses Supplying Bulk Compost

Lower North Island
0800 888 200 (producing a BioGro certified product)

A note about commercially prepared compost:  Some brands of compost incorporate sewage sludge (often called “biosolids” into their compost.  This is best avoided as sewerage sludge can be contaminated with heavy metals. Sewerage sludge is not permitted under organic certification schemes.

Some commercially prepared (and home made compost) is too “green” – meaning that it contains too high a proportion of bits of stick, bark etc that has not yet rotted down. As the “green” compost begins to break down in your garden, it can deplete nitrogen levels in the  the soil, causing plants’ leaves to yellow.  Applying a nitrogen rich fertiliser will help if this is the problem


NB:  If you can help improve this page by suggesting other composting making products and/or suppliers or good quality compost, please do so.

Categories: Compost, Gardening Information

Religious Communities

Faith communities already help with a variety of initiatives to help alleviate poverty such as by running opportunity shops to help people buy clothes and other items cheaply, by running food banks and by providing moral leadership.

Leaders in faith communities are likely to be aware of families who are facing significant stress due to job losses, inability to find full time employment, chronic illness etc whose members may therefore be at risk of poor nutrition due to poverty – which can cause (or worsen) health problems and contribute to learning and behavioural difficulties in children.

Religious communities are well placed to help alleviate hunger and disease related to poor nutrition by promoting increased local food production in their town or city.

Many established churches are set on spacious grounds – often beautifully landscaped – with large areas of lawn.  Establishing gardens for food production on church property would be achievable for many congregations.  (The large surface area of the roofs of many churches, temples and mosques also provides a good opportunity to harvest rainwater for garden irrigation.)

Faith communities typically include people of all age groups and there are bound to be members who have gardening experience that they could share within their congregation to help establish gardens to produce food for members of their faith community and/or other people in need in the local area.

Establishing food producing gardens on the grounds of a church, temple or mosque may also lead to members of the congregation becoming motivated to start their own gardens at home as they gain confidence in growing food, just in the same way that when schools start gardening projects, the families of children attending the school often take up gardening at home.

Religious communities can potentially support members’ home gardening efforts through some of the following ways:

* By establishing worm farms on church (or temple or mosque) grounds so that appropriate food scraps from events held at the church can be made into fertiliser and any surplus that is not needed for church gardens can be made available to members of the congregation for free or at a nominal cost.

* By collecting seaweed (such as on church picnics at the beach) and using it to make liquid seaweed fertiliser that can be made available to members of the congregation.

* By purchasing fertilisers in bulk so that members of the congregation who need fertiliser can obtain it at a more affordable price.  (Quality fertilisers are comparatively inexpensive when bought in bulk but can cost a lot when bought in low volumes from garden stores.)

* By holding workshops to help construct wooden frames for raised beds, do-it-yourself ferro-cement rainwater collection tanks etc.    (This provides an opportunity for children and young people to learn basic wood working and construction skills.)

* By creating a collection of heritage seeds that can be shared among the congregation.

* By identifying people in the congregation who have a particularly urgent need for good food (such as low income elderly people, families with young children) but who may have difficulty producing their own (due to poor health, long working hours etc) and assigning a member of the church community to help them establish and maintain home gardens.

Faith communities are also likely to have members who can help young (or older) people who are having difficulty finding full time (or any) employment by providing practical training in food production, increasing people’s self-sufficiency, skills and self-esteem. (You can read about one such successful project at this link http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/northland/dargaville-districts/4405062/Garden-project-grows-skilled-workers .)  Skills gained in these sorts of initiatives may potentially lead to self-employment or cooperative enterprises. (See the Enterprise/Employment page for details).

Categories: Religious Communities


This page is for events (such workshops, conferences etc) relating to organic farming growing and community initiatives designed to improve New Zealanders access to nutritious food. If you would like to list your event, please email the site coordinator through the Contact form.

Events are listed (roughly in chronological order).  From now on, the date at which an event is listed will be posted with the listing.


Permaculture Design Certificate Course – Awhi Farm

28 January 2012 – 12 February 2012

Details are at this link: http://www.transitiontowns.org.nz/node/3337


NEW LISTING (as of 21/1/12) !!!

Adobe Pizza Oven Building Workshop
Hands on ( more like feet on) workshop
Dates: 18th February for the base brick work
3 & 4th March for the adobe oven

$20-40 per day (sliding scale)
9 am – all day

Bring your lunch and drinks. (Shops not far away)
Held at Ranui Community Garden 22 Marinich Drive, Ranui.
Please contact Buffie at Ranui-garden@hotmail.co.nz or on 021 2721214.


NEW LISTING (as of 28/2/12)

New “Gardening Bites” course on edible gardening led by “Nana-Technologist”  and expert organic gardener Dee Pigneguy.  They start on March 6th.  Details are at this link.



The 11th Australasian Permaculture Convergence will be from 12th-15th April 2012 in Turangi, New Zealand
For more information see:  http://www.permaculture.org.nz/forum


An intensive permaculture design course is being held by the Koanga Institute in April.

Tutors: Bob Corker, Kay Baxter, Nathan Foote, Koanga Institute Staff
Location: Koanga Institute, Kotare Raod, Wairoa.
Price: $1700 includes Food and Basic Accomodation (tents)
Date: April 7 – 20,  2012

For more information see http://www.koanga.org.nz/pdc


NEW LISTING (as of 29/2/12)

Fruit tree pruning workshop

There is a low cost ($20) workshop to help you learn basic fruit tree pruning to keep trees healthy and productive.  This is coming up in July.  Details are at this link:  http://www.transitiontowns.org.nz/node/3375


Categories: Events