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We’ve come up with a plan which we are hugely excited about, which will:

  • double our vegetable production (or more!), with a new Market Garden space
  • plant 300+ trees, including fruit trees, natives, and support species
  • integrate our sheep with these trees in a silvopasture grazing system
  • introduce a rotating flock of 100 pastured layer hens

To us, this represents a vision of our food future - community-centred, human-scale, diverse, ecologically-regenerative farming for nourishment, not commodity.

Industrial, fossil fuel-dependent monoculture farming is devastating our ecosystems, our health, and fuelling the climate crisis.

We urgently need a radical transformation of our food system. We need to visualise and create models that show us a different way forward. At Kelmarna, we have a unique opportunity to demonstrate these models in the heart of Aotearoa’s biggest city.

Starting at 300m2, we plan to create (at least) 600m2 of new market garden, using regenerative no-dig, diverse plantings to grow an abundance of vegetables and feed our soil microbes to sequester carbon at the same time.

The market garden will create a new job opportunity for a beginning farmer to join our team as Junior Market Gardener.

This production-focused space will enable us to demonstrate financially and ecologically-viable market gardening, and train future farmers in the skills they need to replicate this, through our Farmhands programme, workshops, and other volunteering opportunities.

We plan to run our Market Garden as a Community Supported Agriculture scheme (What’s a CSA?), which will enable our community to continue to be heavily involved in this adventure for the long term.

Silvopasture is an agroforestry approach that combines trees and grazing livestock in a symbiotic relationship. We think most farms should have more trees and agroforestry systems have a huge part to play in transforming our food system.

Most of the animals that we currently farm evolved to live in open woodland or forest-edge environments, rather than open fields. Our plan involves planting diverse strips of fruit trees, natives, and support species, in and around each of our paddocks.

Trees provide a huge range of benefits for animal welfare, moderating the microclimate to buffer extremes of heat, wind, cold, and rain. They also provide additional food for the animals, including important minerals that they are able to bring up from the subsoil.

Their deep root systems make good use of excess water in our wet winters, while retaining moisture in the landscape through our increasingly dry summers.

Our tree lines will transform our paddocks from 2-dimensional to 3-dimensional, capturing more sunlight to maximise photosynthesis and carbon sequestration, creating habitat for wildlife, and food for humans and pollinators.

In return, our sheep and chickens will cycle nutrients through their manure to provide available fertility for the trees.

Our sheep form a key element of the system, supporting healthy nutrient and water cycling for the pasture and trees, as well as maintaining the grass at a suitable height for our chooks to thrive in it.

We manage the rotation of our grazing animals with the aim of ensuring that our pasture is continually in its growth stage, when plants are pumping the most root exudates (carbon) into the soil, to feed soil microbiology and sequester carbon.

Including sheep in the system allows us to produce pasture-fed meat for our community directly from a source where they can be certain that it has been produced in the best way possible, using agroecological methods that prioritise the health of the animals and the wider ecosystem. The first step in transforming our food system is building transparent and trusting relationships between farmers and communities.

Our paddocks will also be home to a flock of 100 layer hens (introduced in two stages), in mobile hen houses that will be moved to give access to fresh pasture every day or two.

Following a few days after the sheep leave a paddock, the chooks peck through their manure, finding bugs to feed themselves, reducing parasite populations, and spreading the manure around, while also contributing their own.

Their pecking and scratching also creates spaces for new seeds to germinate, boosting the diversity of the pasture.

The varied diet of insects, greens, fungi, and more will mean the chooks produce eggs packed full of flavour and nutrition.

Our aim is to develop towards a truly regenerative model for egg production, using our perennial crops, waste products from our community, and insects we grow on-site to reduce our dependence on industrial grains grown elsewhere, and choosing heritage breeds that will thrive in these low-input systems.

We plan to make our eggs available through a Community Supported Agriculture scheme, that reflects the reality that eggs are a seasonal food, with peaks and troughs during the year.

Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) is a partnership-based farming model where community members and farmers work together to grow and share food.

CSA members commit up-front to buying a share of the farm’s harvest for a period of time, essentially clubbing together to employ a farmer to grow their food for them.

Members receive a box of fresh veggies or eggs each week, but accept that they are sharing the risks as well as the rewards of the CSA - when conditions are good, everyone will receive a bountiful harvest, but in the case of adverse weather or crop failure, members accept that they will each receive a little less.

The CSA model has many benefits for farmers and members:

  • Secure funding for the season ahead
  • Shared risk
  • Community members connect more closely with their food, and what’s truly in season
  • Community members connect with each other through the scheme
  • Minimal marketing/sales time, meaning we can focus on growing food
  • No production food waste resulting from unsold food
  • No packaging waste, from displaying or transporting food
  • and more!