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