We receive a lot of CV’s from people wanting to work with us. It is really exciting to see the calibre of individuals who, like us, want to improve our little place in this world. As a small company, we often have to say no to these awesome folks, we can’t employ everyone. However, it was perfect timing when James' CV came across our desks. Not only does he have a Masters in Ecology, an area we are expanding our work in but he also has fantastic mapping skills and the ability to communicate to a wide range of people. In our work, communication is vital and James can talk with farmers, conservationists, GIS geeks and volunteers. So, we snapped him up. Welcome to the team James. Click here to read more about James.
We are so pleased to have been involved in the creation of Dunedin's first residential recycling facility that opened last week on Moray Place (bottom of View St). A lot of time and hard work went into many different aspects of the project. A big thank you to Marilyn and Tammy from the Dunedin Curtain Bank and the rest of their team for making the coffee sack carry-bags for the residents to bring their recycling to the facility. A huge thank you to Lawrie, Stuart and John at Zeal Art (part of Zeal Steel) for bringing it all together. And huge respect to the Solid Waste team at Dunedin City Council for their vision and leadership.
Photo of Lloyd and Niki "using" the new residential recycling facility at the launch.
We are holding our Fourth Learning from Leaders this coming MONDAY at 23 Princes St in the "Unstitched" pop up space. Come and join us to learn more from our local entrepreneurs regarding the stuff we wrap around ourselves each day.
We also have the pleasure of hearing from the Tear Fund about the launch of their new Ethical Fashion Guide: www.tearfund.org.nz/EthicalFashion
We were privileged to host the National Good Food Network on Friday 10th February when they came to Dunedin for their annual Hui. WellSouth kindly donated their conference room, Taste Nature put on a special lunch, the MacNeille's showed us around their farm and Rory educated us on what can grow in Dunedin.
SBN’s (Sustainable Business Network) Emily Dowding-Smith has spent the last two years bringing people together to help restore New Zealand’s food system.
The Good Food Network is helping to define the barriers for those wishing to provide good food and health advice. There are also barriers to those trying to get good food into their homes and communities. Last year a total of 17 representatives from 12 areas across New Zealand took part in three full day hui in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch. There were 18 visits to, or talks from, businesses, researchers, social enterprises, and contract manufacturers across New Zealand.
February's hui in Dunedin is the first for the year and focused on "Regional food systems: policies and implementation". As SBN's Business Connector, we helped out with some of the arrangements and presentations. Firstly, we took everyone to our best FOOD HUB in Dunedin - TASTE NATURE. Where Rayna shared a little bit of her story including the highlights and some of the challenges (for example, organics being watered down across NZ by producers using the words when they are NOT certified, competing with the large supermarkets who now stock organics, and competing with the "convenience" of those supermarkets). On a positive note, we were fed the most scrumptious food that filled our bellies ready for the chocka afternoon.
After lunch Rhys and I gave a joint presentation on the Otago Food Economy project we worked on last year. It was quite refreshing to dust off that work. It reminded me of how much effort we put into it and what a great outcome resulted. We shared the Toolkit that we produced which was also greatly received.
The first in our afternoon adventures was a visit to Alex and Merrill's farm above Port Chalmers. We introduced our guests to the power of community support by telling them all about Alex and Merrill's story after discovering Nellie (a non-milking heifer) had TB. At that point they thought the whole herd might have to be destroyed but their amazing community got behind them (financially) and powered them through the tough times.
[Note: If you are interested in learning more about this story or Rayna's from Taste Nature, read Andy Barrett's summary of our third Learning From Leaders event (Sept 13).]
Lastly, we headed back into town to the North end and to George Street Orchard. Here Rory Harding showed us all the wonderful fruits that can be grown in Dunedin. I talked about Our Food Networks Food Engaged Communities project, including the food harvests and the workshops we are currently running at George Street Orchard. It was a full day of immersion in a regional food system, from policy to planning to research to local business and community based initiatives. We had a great day showing off Dunedin's finest in Local Food.
By Niki Bould
Ahika has been working with the Bioenergy Association to extend the highly successful Wood Energy South project into Otago and South Canterbury. Wood Energy South aims to lower energy-related carbon emissions, improve air quality and demonstrate the cost and life cycle benefits of utilising local waste wood in boilers.
Otago is blessed with a large sustainable supply of forest estates and many of these estates are directly owned by Council organisations. Furthermore, a number of large boiler plants in our Region are also council owned and there are likely to be many opportunities within these organisations to switch their boilers to operate on local wood energy.
At a recent presentation to the Forum of Mayors, Ahika’s Lloyd McGinty received positive feedback and support from all forum members. The Mayoral Forums represents Waitaki, Clutha, Dunedin, Central Otago, Queenstown Lakes and Otago Regional Councils. The next step is to gain traction at a central government level and Ahika and the Bioenergy Association are working closely to get this proposal considered for the next budget round. The benefits of expanding Wood Energy South into our region are numerous so watch this space! For more info about Wood Energy South visit www.woodenergysouth.co.nz.
Ahika has specialist experience in all aspects of biomass wood energy from initial feasibility, wood energy demand and supply assessments, developing wood fuel supply contracts, engaging with fuel suppliers, specifying wood boilers and assisting with all aspects of wood energy projects.
The end of last year seemed to race past and we realised we didn't write up our Energy Efficiency 'Learning from Leaders' Event from October. So here is a brief summary:
Martin McArthur from Cadbury talked us through their energy and sustainable goals and some of the energy projects that were tackled in 2016 including the development of an energy plan, energy metering strategy, air and steam leak surveys and the highly successful heat recovery project that is saving 1,140MWh per annum or 157tCO2-e.
Peter Van Meer from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) talked us through funding opportunities and engagement strategies that work well. Cadbury have a collaboration agreement with EECA that allows funding to be quickly obtained for projects. Within a 12 month period, Cadbury completed more than 10 projects that received some level of funding from EECA.
Chris Dawson from Pioneer Energy explained how the company is owned by the Central Lakes Trust and discussed its unique proposition of partnering with its clients to delivery energy efficiency projects among other things.
We also visited the chocolate melting room where attendees were treated to entering the heart of the factory and see first hand some of the energy efficiency changes that have been happening including energy metering, improved melter design and controls that reduced the melt time for a block by more than 50%
Ahika’s Lloyd McGinty spoke about the opportunities organisations have to be involved in leveraging EECA funding for projects, particularly energy metering and planning, feasibility reports, energy audits and surveys and new technology such as biomass wood energy boiler systems.
In brief, we had a great event where we learned a lot from industry and ate delicious food (thank you Cadbury for the space and the nibbles).
Now 2017 is here we will be hosting more Learning from Leaders events, so watch this space for updates.
Niki has been asked to host an evening with the author of "Ruby and the Blue Sky" a feminist, climate change thriller. Katherine Dewar's debut novel is a tale of fame, power, sacrifice - and tea. The novel is also set in Niki's home town of Leeds.
Date: Tuesday 18th Oct- 4-6pmLocation: Cadbury World Theatre, 280 Cumberland Street
Join us for our third sustainable practice, Learning from Leaders' event. This event focuses on efficiency in business. Hear from four speakers on the following topics:
Cadbury: “Energy + Sustainability = Good Business Sense”
Cadbury’s Martin McArthur and Judith Mair will be speaking about their journey and pathway towards energy efficiency. Judith will discuss the strategic company perspective which goes beyond just energy and covers their own Sustainability Roadmap framework. Martin will speak about projects that have been completed recently, what worked and didn’t etc. Lots to speak about here. (Heat recovery, mass melting, stirrers, lighting etc)
EECA: “How funding can drive energy efficiency”
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s (EECA) Peter van Meer will be discussing what EECA does and the main funding programmes (Collaboration and partner programmes) and how EECA integrates with the client. Peter will be using a real example of a recent project at Cadbury to demonstrate the funding process and contract obligations. If Peter has time, he will highlite some of the exciting projects happening around NZ.
Ahika: “Planning is the first step towards identifying opportunities”
Ahika’s Lloyd McGinty will be speaking about the role Ahika plays with clients, the benefits of developing an energy plan and how funding can drive energy savings. Lloyd will also discuss some of the projects already tackled at Cadbury and the process of identifying projects, verification of energy savings and the importance of collecting energy data.
Pioneer Energy: “Energy supply with a difference”
Pioneer Energy is a Otago based business providing energy generation, retail and energy services throughout NZ. A community owned organisation, all profits are either reinvested or returned to the community via funding and grants. Pioneer also support their clients by assisting with energy efficiency and energy projects. Hear about some the local projects they have been involved with.
Chocolate melting project: At the end of the talks we will invite attendees to see firsthand the chocolate melting project and Martin or Lloyd willgive a brief talk about this energy efficiency project. The mass melting area is within a food safety zone in the heart of the factory so all attendees are required to wear appropriate clothing (provided).
Please note we only have 40 spaces for this particular event. So sign up with OSEA asap (Phone: 0508 656 757 Email: email@example.com)
The venue was packed. The hospitality was generous. The speakers were great. All in all, it can safely be said that this event was an unqualified success.
Five different – and distinctly personal – voices with very different perspectives on our current food system and its discontents. Although all represented alternatives to the mainstream, this was no rant session. Instead, we heard five people speaking openly and honestly of their recent and current experiences and offering pointers towards what the future of food might look like.
The session was opened by Sean Connelly from Otago University’s Geography Department. As an academic who has devoted a great deal of his time researching food systems, he provided a useful framework for understanding how we value food in contemporary New Zealand. At present, food is treated, above all, as a commodity like any other, a simple fuel that we are encouraged to view purely in terms of how much we get for the dollars we spend. This is the “consumerist” logic which drives the world today and which we see everywhere around us, from the industrial monocultures that dominate the countryside to the supermarkets that dominate our cities.
So what can we do about this? In the first place, we need to think of food not as a thing to be bought and sold, but as a process which involves far more than the simple process of sustaining our bodies. Sean listed six sets of values that we need to have in mind if we are to be more than mere consumers and become what he calls “food citizens”. These are the values of (1) work (how the food system employs people and how meaningful and rewarding that work is); (2) social interactions (how every part of the system, from production to consumption, has crucial consequences for all aspects of our communal lives); (3) health and nutrition (no explanation needed here); (4) the environment (ditto); (5) local economic development (one of the major focus for the DCC and its newly appointed Food Resilience Business Advisor); and (6) justice (ensuring that good food is available to all). These, of course, are the very values that guide Our Food Network and other local food groups around the world.
This was fighting talk, and Sean reminded us that to become a “food citizen” is to engage in a political act.
Next up was Rayna Dickson. Rayna and her husband Mark are well-known locally as owners and managers of “Taste Nature”, Dunedin’s organic food and produce shop. Rayna began by giving a brief history of the initiative, which was the brainchild of Jim O’Gorman (now a celebrated Kakanui vegetable grower). Unfortunately, the venture ran into financial difficulties and it was only through the valiant efforts of John Gadd, Helen Davidson and many volunteers that “Taste Nature” continued to operate. When Mark and Rayna bought the business it was still unsustainable as a commercial enterprise and it took them many years to reach financial viability.
Rayna explained how the shop strives to meet both the ethical standards of a truly “green” business and the commercial imperatives of the current financial environment. Like everything else these days, the world of organics is constantly changing. Many businesses are responding to the call for sustainable practices and products with “greenwash” – claims that, on inspection, are not only worthless but which also threaten those who are concerned to meet honestly the growing demand for better food, farming and commerce. There are also changes within the organic sector itself, as some organic producers increase the scale of their operations. This has happened in the US, where there are real concerns about the integrity of large-scale organics and increasing pressures on the smaller producers who have been the mainstay of non-industrial farming over the decades.
For the consumer, ventures like “Taste Nature” pose a dual challenge. By its very location, away from the main shopping district, the shop fails to meet the current pursuit of convenience above all else: it takes an effort to break the supermarket habit of finding everything under the one roof, with a large adjoining car park. And it also runs counter to the philosophy of getting as much “food” as possible for the lowest price. As a percentage of our incomes, we spend far less on food today than we did a couple of generations ago. (We also spend a great deal more on housing – but that is another matter.) If we want to eat good, healthy food which is produced with fewer environmental costs, then we have to be prepared to pay more for it. This is the price of “revaluing food”.
Mike Barton provided a completely different perspective. Mike is a beef farmer in the Lake Taupo catchment who has been in the forefront of efforts by the local farming community to cope with the massive changes to land management imposed by the regional council as part of the effort to reduce the impacts of nitrates leaching into the lake. Mike farms 150 hectares and currently finishes 300 beef cattle a year on his property.
Although many of us will have followed this story through the news media over the years, I must confess that I hadn’t given anything like enough thought to the predicament of the individuals caught in what was, for them, a truly dreadful situation. Mike spoke with great honesty about his initial reaction of anger and denial, about his efforts to find others to blame for the environmental problems, and his final acceptance that farming practices like his own simply had to change for the sake of the environment.
Since then, Mike has been obliged not only to change the way he manages his livestock to meet the new environmental standards but also to find new ways to market his meat. His farm can no longer carry the same number of animals as before, to the point where the existing system could no longer guarantee the financial viability of his business. With others, he was involved in the establishment of “Taupo Beef Certification”, a scheme which has enabled farmers producing environmentally sustainable beef to sell their produce with a premium (rather like the premium which attaches to certified organic produce). (Search “Taupo Beef” to find a number of interesting items about this.) His business has also been assisted greatly by “My Food Bag”, Nadia Lim’s initiative, which takes some of the lesser meat cuts for its products, which are sold on-line. (See www.myfoodbag.co.nz)
This is not just a Taupo issue. As Mike was at pains to point out, the situation that he and other farmers have had to face is just the first case of what will eventually come to face all food producers. The nitrification of Lake Taupo is the result of an unusual set of circumstances, most notably a high base level of nitrates in the lake water and the rapid leaching of nutrients through the pumice subsoil. But the continuing demand for intensification of production on farmland will inevitably force a realisation that the current system is unsustainable everywhere in New Zealand. Mike explained that his business now runs on a key measure which is quite different from the current norm. For him it is dollars earned per unit of nitrate leached that governs his viability as a farmer. He believes that in the long run, this will be the model for all New Zealand farmers and this is the idea behind a new project which has grown out of the “Taupo Beef” initiative. Called “Food, Farms, Freshwater” – or 3F – its objective (in words from its website) is “for New Zealand and international consumers to value food products that support farmers to farm more sustainably” (www.3f.co.nz).
Cath Gledhill spoke next. She is working with the Dunedin City Council as part of the “Love Food Hate Waste” initiative. Again, the website (www.lovefoodhatewaste.co.nz) tells it all: “Every year Kiwis send 122,547 tonnes of food to landfill, all of which could have been eaten. Not only is wasting food costing us money, it is also bad for the environment. Love Food Hate Waste has tips and recipes to help you reduce your food waste and save money.” (One of the recipes is for banana skin cake – who would have thought?..) The campaign has only just begun and will run for three years. It is very much a practical, hands-on affair, as the banana-skin cake suggests. There will be many events and promotions throughout the Dunedin region. Coming up quite soon is “Pizzas and Pies”, a free cookery class with Alison Lambert. It will be held on Tuesday, 20th September from 5-30 to 8.30 pm. At Queens High School, 195 Surrey Street, St Clair. Numbers are limited and anyone interested should register with Catherine.Gledhill@dcc.govt.nz
Cath is keen to spread the word far and wide and she is encouraging local groups to work with her to organize “Love Food Hate Waste” events.
Tess Trotter had the unenviable task of speaking last. Many locals will know Tess as the prime mover behind the Friends of Holy Cow. The story has had a lot of coverage in the media but it is very much a heartening tale of what can be done through grass-roots activism. It all began when Merrall and Alex MacNeille’s small dairy farm in Reynoldstown was closed down when one of the cows was found to have contracted bovine Tb. Tess is just one of many customers who had come to rely on the farm to supply raw milk. More than that, she admired Merrall and Alex for the humane values embodied in the farm and its produce. Within days, she had set up a Facebook page (still open now with more than 1000 “friends”) and organized a “Give a Little” fundraiser. This was followed by a dinner and auction event. In all, this has (quite literally) saved the farm. The funds raised have provided Merrall and Alex with the wherewithal to keep their animals fed, organize pasteurization as an interim measure, and even come up with some exciting initiatives which promise well for the development of local food options in the future.
So there you have it. It was a reminder that, in the midst of all the depressing news that assaults us daily, there are some good things going on. Each of the speakers would certainly qualify as the “food citizens” that Sean Connelly defined at the beginning of the meeting, and each left us with plenty to ponder.
· Sean himself showed the value of having academics capable of analysing the many issues involved in food systems and making their insights available in language we can all understand. He reminded us of the importance of our Humanities departments at a time when they are coming under threat at Otago and elsewhere in the world.
· Rayna emphasized the need for good business skills as well as sound ethical principles in promoting local food. She was also realistic about the challenges that remain. Even as she defended the need for a revaluation of food, she acknowledged that there are far too many people in New Zealand today for whom such additional expense is an impossible burden.
· Mike made us aware of the plight of the contemporary farmer. Although his focus was on the specifics of the Lake Taupo environmental crisis, he also mentioned both the increasing costs that have assailed him over the last decade and the sobering statistic that real returns on production have fallen consistently over the last 40 years. If we are to be true “food citizens”, we need to understand more about such things. As Mike said, it is time for us to have more mature conversations about the future of food.
· Cath’s work promotes the kind of individual (and family) behavioural change which will ensure that we are all better prepared to meet whatever demands our changing world might have in store for us. Although there is much scepticism at large about the effectiveness of small acts in bringing about major change (climate change is the classic example, of course), this is no reason to sit on our hands. And why not find out how clever frugality can help us live well and balance the family books?
· Tess showed by example what a “food citizen” can achieve. She helped provide invaluable financial and moral support to her local farmers in their hour of need. The massive display of practical compassion which flowed out of this calamity reminded us what a true community is about – good people coming together to work for the good of all.
Finally, although I have tried my best to be accurate, I will apologise in advance for any errors or misrepresentations. I have had to rely on my memory and notes scribbled in haste while observing proceedings from behind a potted plant.
The US and China - together responsible for 40 percent of the world's carbon emissions - have both formally joined the Paris global climate agreement.
We are collaborating with GEIA to develop their Champion Programme. Come along on Thursday evening to hear more about "Sustainability for Business".
Experts say Southland's approach to dealing with air quality issues could be a model for the rest of New Zealand, as well as save lives and move the region towards a lower-carbon future. Business leaders from throughout Southland and the rest of New Zealand gathered at the Kelvin Hotel on Thursday for the Commercial Biomass Boilers Symposium. At the day-long conference, a variety of speakers discussed the experiences, advantages, and future potential of switching from using coal-powered boilers for heating to wood chip-powered boilers. Venture Southland business projects coordinator Cathy Jordan said new air quality regulations further highlighted the need to switch to more environmentally friendly boilers.
For more details see: http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/82342796/Southland-urged-to-switch-to-wood-boilers-for-lower-carbon-future
We are holding our second Learning from Leaders event on the 30th August. It is all about the value of food. The price of food is not necessarily a good measure of value. We want to know how we (the collective "we") can improve this? Come and join us as we hear from five diverse speakers who cover different aspects of the food system: production, retail, consumption and waste. We also have a leading University of Otago researcher to talk about the different values of food.
We are holding the event in the wonderful Vanguards Specialty Coffee Co., if you have not yet discovered it (329 Princes street), we would recommend trying their direct from grower coffee or their locally grown and made delicious food.
As the Business Connector for Sustainable Business Network, Ahika launched its inaugural Learning from Leaders event on Tuesday evening with four speakers on the subject of ‘Powering Dunedin with Renewable Energy’. Hilary Phipps and Hans Pietsch from Property Services plunged us into the University of Otago’s energy journey. We started with the faulty, old and dirty oil boiler and progressed through the university owning one wood chip boiler and Hans hauling 15kg bags of chips around campus to having 13 wood chip boilers with more in the pipeline and loading being automated. Hans’ graph and passionate statements around the high cost of electricity should have been enough to have other big businesses hammering on our next speakers’ door to get in line. Eduard Ebbinge from Timbr (an off-shoot of Spark Energy) talked about the pro’s and con’s of keeping an existing wood chip fuel supply. We learned about clever log stacking to maximise the sun and wind to the expensive wood chip powered wood chip drying facilitates. From these two talks alone we discovered that there is enough wood fuel in and around Dunedin to power a lot of Dunedin’s large businesses as well as the schools (they just need to convert to wood chip first!).
Thirdly, we heard from Neville Auton who talked us through the concept of a District Heating system for Dunedin, based on wood chip fuel. His vision and enthusiasm for the future of Dunedin’s heating system just needs some financial backing to get it up and running. Lastly, our own Lloyd McGinty spoke about wood chip fuel in Europe and implications for Dunedin, his talk reinforced Neville’s District Heating concept with working examples such as in Schrems in Austria. They demonstrated how a kindergarten was currently being linked into their system. We were also educated on how to use every last cubic cm of heat generated from the wood chips.
Our first event concluded with a visit to the building next door to see one of the university’s wood chip boilers in action. Our guests returned to CSAFE for drinks and nibbles and to discuss all they had learned.
Powering Dunedin with Renewable Wood Energy: 4-6pm Tuesday 5th July at the University of Otago
Hear from four speakers on these topics:
- The University’s transition to wood energy: Hilary Phipps & Hans Pietsch (University of Otago)
- Maintaining a continuous fuel supply: Eduard Ebbinge (Spark Energy)
- Local policy supporting wood energy: Bill Frewen (DCC)
- Wood energy experiences from Europe and its application to Dunedin: Lloyd McGinty (Ahika)
Each talk will be short and sharp with ample time for questions, discussion and networking.
To register contact our sponsor, OSEA by phoning: 0508 656 757
or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
As the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) "Business Connectors" we have teamed up to showcase some of Dunedin's forward thinking businesses and to provide a platform for them to tell their stories. The Dunedin City Council (DCC) and the Otago Southland Employers Association (OSEA) are sponsoring our bi-monthly events.
We have a great line up.... Our first event will be in July and the topic is Powering Dunedin with Renewable Wood Energy. The series will include:
August 2016: Rethinking How we Value Food
October 2016: Energy Efficiency in Practice
December 2016: The True Cost of Fashion
February 2017: On the Road to Sustainable Practice
April 2017: Accelerating the Circular Economy
The events are open to anyone to come along, we will have a minimal cost of $20 to help cover our costs (and provide refreshments).
A great article in this month's Listener... check it out:
We submitted our final report to MPI's Sustainable Farming Fund in February for the Otago Food Economy (OFE) project completed by Ahika Consulting and Otago Polytechnic.
Local Food Economies (LFE) is the economic and social system for growing, processing, distributing and consuming food within a local area, building social capital and increasing resilience in farming communities by increasing activity within the local economy. Through collaborative processes, a LFE can build community cohesion and greater consumer understanding of food and farming systems which in turn further breaks down social barriers between New Zealand’s rural and urban communities.
The Otago Food Economy (OFE) project has created a better understanding of the capacity for the Otago region to supply its own food needs with the purpose to promote more resilient food economies that have a stronger focus on localisation.
It includes our Food Economy Toolkit that we created to help other communities or local councils explore the capacity for their town/city/region to supply its own food needs in a sustainable way. This toolkit provides the background research, case studies and step-by-step exercises to gather the information needed, as well as provide some processes and suggestions about how to then use the human assets in communities to explore the opportunities for potential change within existing food economies.
The primary funder for this work was the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF). We would like to sincerely thank SFF for both the grant funding and for staff support. We would also like to thank Dunedin Rural Development Inc. and Otago Polytechnic for their financial support.
Access the toolkit and learning more about the project through the Otago Food Economy website (www.otagofood.org).
Ahika was selected as the preferred service provider for energy efficiency at their Dunedin factory in July 2015. Since then, Ahika has assisted with identifying and implementing a number of energy efficiency projects related to air compressors, heat recovery, energy system optimisation and design, steam system improvements and metering. To find out more about how we can assist your organisation, click here.