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Despite The Challenges Of 2020, A Local Community EnviroHub Kaipātiki Project Is Thriving

Newfound passion for nature and the need for food security and zero waste, are just some of the trends that Kaipātiki Project EnviroHub noticed in its community post NZ lockdowns.

With 41,000+ native plants grown in 2020 alone and 16 part-time staff equivalent to eight full timers, Kaipātiki Project has been busier than ever, with outstanding support by regular and new volunteers.

Inspired by possibilities of everyone's food needs being met from local sources, their teaching garden grew into 12 organic garden beds cared for by volunteers during weekly volunteer mornings. Even lockdown didn’t stop the progress. Alison, a long-time garden volunteer, planted seeds just before the lockdown, and looked after them at her home until it was time to come back. Currently they grow silverbeet, kale, fennel, beetroot, spring onions, lettuce, coriander, asparagus, broad beans, herbs and strawberries. All produce, of which there is plenty already, is shared among the volunteers to take home, and other gardening and food sharing groups.

Local people make a significant contribution to the social development, economy, and environment of North Auckland through volunteering. Kaipātiki Project is brimming with amazing volunteers, bucking the national trend of a decline in volunteering. Despite the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns, their volunteering numbers have grown significantly. From an average of 15 volunteers during a regular session, they reached new peaks with 34 volunteers per session.

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Supporting schools to solve their local environmental challenges, Kaipātiki Project worked with 266 youth in environmental project-based learning, ranging from stream care citizen science, monitoring pest control, building environmental hub design and learning about harakeke and weaving techniques. Such projects are important for giving our biodiversity the best chance of survival. Businesses also got on board with 11 corporate volunteering groups, getting their hands dirty planting trees and regenerating native bush.

With the lockdown slowing down plant sales, they managed to squeeze in an inaugural plant sale in June, opening the doors to over 400 people from near and far. This event generated much needed income and spread the word about Kaipātiki Project and what they do.

EcoFest, a month-long series of eco-events, was interrupted by COVID-19, but the crew quickly transformed the programme into Backyard Actions. This new online platform provided ideas for people suck at home to recycle, reduce waste and grow more edibles during lockdown and beyond.

“We believe the heart of wellbeing for nature and people lies in belonging. Through love of place, embracing diversity, and the sharing and exchange of knowledge and skills, we can empower our communities to share in nature’s revival and live lightly on the planet,” said Janet Cole, Manager at Kaipātiki Project.

“Community involvement and learning opportunities are crucial to our work, with everyone walking away with a dose of learning from their experience. The combined effort of a small team of staff and a huge team of volunteers keeps the momentum for change buzzing.”

Within a year, Kaipātiki Project, including 800+ volunteers, grew 41,760 native plants, ran 39 bush restoration days, removed 662 kg of pest plants and established two composting hubs. Compost Collective initiative, which they co-manage, attracted 6,012 participants in 399 workshops across Auckland region, and helped divert 522 tonnes of food waste from landfill.

Thanks to amazing partners, funders and supporters, this financial year they generated one million dollars of investment for the first time in their 22-year history. And with plenty to do in the environmental space this contributed to a real impact during the year.

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