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Human scale farming that sees life flourish

HUA PARAKORE

We are currently working through a three year process to become Hua Parakore certified grower. This is a holistic kaupapa Māori framework for certifing Kai Atua - pure foods free from GMO's, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

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To us, regenerative means farming in a way that improves the resources it uses, rather than destroying or depleting them. This is not a textbook process, but rather a practice rooted in our context and conditions. Ecosystems are an evolving spiral, requiring continuous learning and observation by the grower to contribute positively to its growth.

Healthy soil full of life is the starting point for growing healthy produce. Regeneratively managed landscapes can act as carbon sinks and retain more rainwater by restoring the natural cycles of carbon, water, and nitrogen.

For us, this looks like:

  1. No-till horticulture, causing minimal disturbance to the soil so life can thrive
  2. The removal of chemical and synthetic inputs to allow the natural fertilisers of soil (microbes and worms) to form relationships with plant roots
  3. Dense and diverse plantings to enhance beneficial fungi, bacteria and insect life in our soils

Farming in a changing climate, where droughts and larger storm events will occur more frequently, these practices are more important than ever to create resilience.

Diversity

The soil is alive. Teeming with billions of microbes and insects that build and maintain the soil ecosystem. They need constant feeding, which is the role of the plant roots. By providing a diverse set of plant roots year round we can build and maintain a robust population of micro-organisms. We try to have multi species growing at once in each bed and rotate species between the beds during the season.

By feeding these tiny team members we are not only looking after our precious soil resource, but also helping the plants recieve more nutrients in return for feeding them. Over the coming seasons we hope to see stronger, healthier and more vibrant plants growing in the fields, ready to feed our community for seasons to come.

Seed Sourcing

We are currently sourcing most of the kākano for our maara kai from large seed producers. With the experience we have had in other market gardens we have been following standard practice sourcing untreated seed from producers of various scales. This includes international producers. Whilst all of this seed is untreated, we feel that sourcing from large scale seed producers over the long term does not align with our kaupapa. This choice has felt like a necessity in order to operate. We intend to work on the access we (and other growers) have to geographically connected and resilient seed.

We know we have many collaborations to form to begin to build a seed network that works economically for growers, that aligns with our kaupapa and that adapts alongside the whenua. We intend toward the practise of more localised seed use, saving and sharing in our maara kai.

Collaboration

There are three main reasons why we have decided to farm in a collective manner:

The main barriers to beginning a farm are generally access to land, finance and expertise. By coming together under a shared vision we have been able to significantly reduce those barriers and made it possible to start farming and producing food at scale.

We all love being outside, working with plants and animals, and doing what is necessary to produce food. However, we realise that having the ability to leave the farm, take holidays and make commitments to friends and family is important for a more balanced and fulfilling life. As an owner-worker collective we have the ability to provide each other with time off - something that most farmers are not fortunate enough to have.

We don't believe competition results in the best outcomes for businesses, particularly for small food producers. Along with our internal collaboration, we believe that through collaborating with other growers and producers we can form mutually benefical relationships that can support and enhance each other's work.