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Land for food, recreation and well-being

At a local level, back in 1995, in St Albans, Christchurch, New Zealand, Peggy Kelly argued continued building developments on versatile lands which could better be used for food production would be irresponsible. She said, “the land should be kept. If we don’t want to use it, we should put it into reserves, like a bank for the future, just as we do money.” St Albans Neighbourhood News October 1995 (PDF 131KB)

Working with groups such as the Christchurch branch of the National Council of Women, Peggy made submissions to the Local Government authorities to try to ensure the fertile food producing soils would be protected. She was often the only person making submissions who was not being paid to be there.

While she was not successful in having this particular land protected (it was sold for commercial development), she did engage local people in thinking about a future when Christchurch’s food security could be an important issue.

Peggy was the driving force behind the establishment of Packe Street Park, where food is grown and there are still some wild places for children and adults to enjoy (as in this photo).

In Christchurch, there are thirteen official community gardens (PDF link) and the local government supports these initiatives.

Are current efforts by what are relatively small groups sufficient?

In Christchurch and elsewhere, food producing soils continue to be sold for housing development Developers apply to build 2500 houses (The Press 08 August 2008)

Are there issues here to be aired, and action taken – not just in New Zealand – including at the level of everyday life, local community development, and wider national and international policy?

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