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Blueskin Food Systems Report

Christchurch First to Experience the Newest Luminarium – Arboria
Blueskin Food Systems Report

The ideal of eating local, seasonal food has grown in profile in recent years, as consumers recognise the value of ensuring a secure local food supply and the social and environmental advantages of reducing supply chains.

Now, the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust has taken a step towards exploring what this could mean for a cluster of coastal Otago communities north of Dunedin, by commissioning a comprehensive report into the area's local food systems.

Says BRCT Manager Scott Willis, “We knew there was a significant amount of interest and activity in food locally. What this report does is enable us to see this picture more vividly and gain a real understanding of the state of play in terms of our local food economy.”

Supported by a Lotteries Commission grant, and researched by local food and environmental consultant Rhys Millar, the report explores a the local food system in relation to a range of dimensions, including the history of food action in the Blueskin area; identifying potential impacts of climate change on food production opportunities; comparing calories commercially produced in the region with those consumed; understanding more about informal and home-grown food economies; and gauging the attitudes towards – and appetite for – greater development of the local food systems.

Willis says that while the report recognises an imbalance between food produced and consumed in the region, it also speaks to an active community of food-growing enthusiasts.

“One of a great pleasures of living in rural areas and small communities is the chance to be more connected to your food supply, whether it is through growing your own veges, or buying eggs from a neighbour. This report affirms the value placed on this for its own sake quite aside from the economic or environmental advantages of doing so, and this is worth acknowledging and celebrating.”

Willis says Blueskin communities' task now “is to consider how these findings can be applied to our vision of a resilient, sustainable and thriving community. This could mean our ability to withstand a crisis that could cut us off for weeks, or to position ourselves to cope with changes to the economy and food supply due to the incremental impacts of climate change. And of course we want to ensure a vibrant, desirable community where food producers can make a good livelihood and connect with their customers.”

Key findings include:

• Based on a population of 2800, the Blueskin area requires 2,313 tonnes of food each year, and commercially produces 1837.2 tonnes. However, this is overwhelmingly weighted towards beef and lamb, producing more than seven times that required by the local community. In all other food groups except dairy, Blueskin is a net importer of calories from other areas.

• The fertile alluvial Waitati river plain equals in size the land that would be required to sustain its population in fruit and vegetables; however this area may be particularly susceptible to impact of climate change.

• Around 75% of households surveyed are producing some kind of food, including fruit, vegetables, berries, eggs and meat.

• Approximately 35% of those producing food at home reported being self-sufficient in at least one food item, but none claimed complete self-sufficiency.

• 81% of those surveyed agreed that knowing where food comes from is important, and 76% indicated a strong interest in supporting local food initiatives.

The community is invited to visit the BRCT stall at the Blueskin Community Market on Sunday 6th September to discuss the report and consider next steps. (11 am–1pm at Gallery on Blueskin, Harvey Street, Waitati). Or they can read it online and email comments to office@brct.co.nz

The report can be downloaded at: http://www.brct.org.nz/assets/BRCT-publications/Blueskin-and-Karitane-Food-System-Report-Final.pdf

ends

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