Sunday, May 23, 2010

Eating locally, Atamai progress.

Dear Friends,

Transition Town news.
On Saturday we held an Eating Locally event, to both celebrate our local foods and to explore ways of further localising our food consumption. I'll go into a bit of detail, becuase we were happy with how the event played out, and think this may be helpful to others considering something similar.

We held the event at Riverside, which has a large kitchen, all that you need for a potluck meal for lots of people, and facilities for music performance. We put some trouble but little money into advertising - posters in shop windows, library display with appropriate books, fliers, radio, newspaper and online ads (all free). People were invited to bring a potluck meal made with local ingredients, together with its recipe to share.

On the day we prepared a beautiful display of local produce, as you can see above. In the picture is Tanja, a remarkable young woman, who did a huge array of things, usually two or three at a time, always with little Leenas (seen here) strapped to her back, and with her 4 and 7 year-old girls nearby, the 7 year-old being a real help in any way she could. Also in the picture is Richard, the Good Bread Man, who baked a batch of sourdough rye especially for the event. The aroma of the baking bread greeted the guests on the day.

We began with an intro of why we should eat locally. We can think of many reasons, as you will see below. Then the 7 year-old sang a food-blessing in Maori and we enjoyed some very creative ad delicious food. Our friends, Dawn and Emery, played mellow jazz and folk on the piano as background.

Then we reorganised the tables to use a World Cafe procedure. Some of you will have experienced this applied to other topics. It was my first experience and I recommend it. It's fast -moving, gets people thinking about the issues, and good ideas emerge. In this case we considered firstly what we ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, how far it travelled to get to us. Then we thought about how we could make that meal local, and finally we thought about the 'gaps' - food from far away that we can either think about growing nearby, or substituting something else, or doing without.

There was then a competition for the best menu using local foods, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Prizes were donated by local producers. Finally a brilliant group of local musicians, the Northern Lights, entertained us.

We had about 40 people there, some very original food (yakon, radish seed pods, chocolate chestnut pie, achachas stuffed with feijoa and goat cheese), good ideas and great music.

Atamai Ecovillage news
The village has been working at its formal structure, with the help of lawyers. To have Commons land doesn't fit well with normal legal structures, so it has taken a lot of work to shape the necessary entities. There will be an Atamai Land Trust whose task is to develop the land into individual lots and the shared Commons. The Trust uses a company, Sustainable Villages Ltd to carry out the development. The lots are sold to individuals who also buy a share of the Commons, and agree to certain covenants. The Commons will be owned and governed by the Atamai Village Council Inc., comprising all villagers who have bought into the Commons. All the normal developers' profits will go to the Commons.

Jurgen and Kyoko, and our builder, Greg Law and his wife, Isabel, have just bought one of the existing large ridgetop houses and will share it, for as long as it takes to be able to build their own homes on lots they've selected, This means that we'll soon have five little kids as neighbours, ranging, I think, from 3 to about 9.

Jo and Jack
We've both been involved in the evolution of the village, and I've spent time on the Eating Locally event and also on my radio programme. I've been writing bits and pieces for the Reconciliation book, some of which readers of this blog have seen. One you haven't seen is on reconciliation in East Timor, which is, I think, a case study in what happens when one party is immensely more powerful than the other. Basically, the big power gets away with murder, multiplied many times over.

We've spent a little time on the house, which now has its concrete foundation. Jack has spent a lot of time with a team of six, planting 2000 trees, bushes, grasses to stop the terrace slopes from washing down.

The village baby, William, turned one yesterday, so we had a birthday party for this happy little chap.

REcommended film: Mao's last Dancer. Wonderful ballet in this.

Now, here are 15 points about eating locally:
Why do we want to eat locally?• It’s nutritious. And delicious. More nutrients in fresh food.
• It reduces carbon emissions, and helps mitigate CC.
• It helps prepare us for coming fuel scarcity, when the faraway food might not get to us at all.
• It gets us growing and considering what’s in the soil, or puts us in contact with the grower,, to inquire about pesticides , herbicides etc.
• It’s cheaper.
• Strengthens the local economy.
• Helps our kids understand where food comes from
How do we do this?
• It means we eat seasonally, and learn to preserve summer’s abundance for the winter.
• It may mean we’re prepared to do without some things eg bananas.
• It means we read labels when we shop, and try to buy Top of the South whenever we can.
• Some of us grow as much as we can in our own gardens. No food miles or km, just metres.
• Some of us further strengthen the local economy by trading for our food in TALENTS.
• What we don’t grow, we get mainly from the following places (showing the map): Motueka Sunday Market; Riverside Friday Market; Arcadia Organics; Toad Hall; Victoria Gardens.
• We keep our eyes open for roadside stalls and buy from them when possible. (Asparagus, lemons, nashi, kiwi fruit, blueberries – lots of wonderful things, usually just picked.)
• Some of us get our milk direct from a farm to avoid the long distances milk travels, at high energy input. We make our own yoghurt and cheese and butter.

OK, that's it for now, dear folks.
Much love,