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Council project helps feed community, improve environment

Castlecorp depot land after landscaping and establishing vegetable gardens.

News Release
Tuesday 22 January 2013

Council project helping feed local community and improve environment

ROTORUA 22.01.13: A Rotorua District Council project to help reduce dust in Ngapuna has resulted in over 100kg of vegetables being donated so far to the Salvation Army food bank to help needy residents.

Mayor Kevin Winters says staff from the council’s maintenance business unit, Castlecorp, developed vegetable gardens at their Vaughan Road headquarters in August last year. He said the project was part of a Dust Management Plan in conjunction with Environment Bay of Plenty, aimed at reducing dust in the Ngapuna industrial area.

“The result is a win-win-win outcome for Rotorua. We’ve been able to supply freshly harvested vegetables to help feed some of our more needy residents, we have a reduction in dust in the local environment and we’ve made some substantial savings by recycling waste material that would otherwise incur waste disposal costs,” said Mr Winters.

Castlecorp general manager Mike Davies said there had been concern about the amount of dust generated in Ngapuna from unsealed areas and uncovered stockpiles of soil and waste.

“Rather than seal or grass the land behind our council depot, it made sense to have it landscaped, and put to a more practical use that would benefit our community,” he said.

“There was quite a lot of surplus material and rubbish accumulating in our back yard, such as excess materials from work sites. So instead of carting it away to the landfill we used that material to form a protective bund and garden surrounds, which were then planted with herbs and vegetables.

“By utilising left-over waste materials we’ve effectively saved in excess of $20,000 in landfill charges. The only costs incurred have been staff time and landscaping machinery, and about $500 on vegetable plants and trees which has been recovered through the sale of surplus scrap metal.

“It’s been a really satisfying project in terms of recycling and looking after our environment. As well as utilising excess materials, we’ve relocated trees and shrubs that had been removed from the CBD, and our mulch has come from tree branches that we’d had to cut down over the previous months.”

Mr Davies met with Salvation Army staff at the end of last year to offer their foodbank fresh vegetables from the new gardens and the offer was well received.

He said small deliveries were made to the Salvation Army prior to Christmas and over following weeks. However last week Castlecorp staff harvested and delivered a further 100kg of new potatoes, silverbeet, cabbage and carrots to the non-profit organisation for distribution to people in need.

“It was initially a trial to control dust but the help we’ve been able to give to our community has been an extra bonus. Because it worked so well this summer and our vegetables were of high quality, we’re looking at further developing and expanding the gardens we currently have.

"Our new vegie gardens have certainly made a big difference to the aesthetics of our back yard and have been very effective in reducing dust. It now looks beautiful and it's creating quality produce for those in need. We're feeding the community we care for which is very satisfying," said Mr Davies.

He said lettuce, cauliflower, leeks, kamokamo, strawberries, and fruit trees have also been planted for the next harvest.


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