Buildings once stood where lettuces now thrive, in the centre of our second biggest city.
Cultivate Christchurch is an urban farm attracting nationwide attention. They produce more than veges here, they’re growing opportunities for young people.
Co-founded by ecologist Bailey Peryman and youth advocate Fiona Stewart, Cultivate delivers produce to 22 restaurants in the city, in return collecting their food waste to feed the soil and grow more plants.
Produce can also be purchased at the farm gate, where customers can see the urban farm in operation.
Young people who need support to enter the workforce, are given a step up at Cultivate, which offers Urban Farm Hand internships.
“It means they have a place where they can come to, to connect to the land and to each other and have a sense of purpose.” says Stewart.
So far, 25 young people have completed an internship, with many moving on to other training or employment opportunities.
Peryman believes the scale and complexity is unique in New Zealand, and he regularly welcomes visitors from other cities, keen to replicate what’s happening in Christchurch.
Peryman and Stewart are eyeing up expansion, taking Cultivate into the red zone, where they’ve applied to farm a large site.
With a boyish grin, Peryman says it would be good to be do as Ngai Tahu once did, and bring produce into the city via the Avon River.
Cultivate Christchurch is also working with the health board to re-establish a hospital garden at Hillmorton.
“This is a city of opportunity apparently, but for who?” says Peryman.
“I can create opportunities for myself … and then it's my duty to create opportunities for others.”
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