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KELMARNA GARDENS

Healthy community and environment

Words by: Natalie Clausen

Kelmarna Gardens is one of Auckland’s hidden gems. It’s a city farm and organic community garden spread out over 4.5 acres of council land just a few streets away from Ozone’s new home. The Kelmarna Gardens crew are a dedicated bunch, and spend their time and resources encouraging the promotion of a healthy community and environment, and the viability of sustainable living in the local area.

The farm was established in 1981 and is managed for the benefit of the local community by the Kelmarna Community Garden Trust. From the outset, the Trust has promoted organic gardening and wholly exclude the use of chemical sprays and artificial fertilisers. They rely instead on compost, healthy soil, good plant care and natural pest management.

The gardens are managed and maintained by Adrian and Andy (pictured on previous page), alongside a team of hard working and passionate volunteers. Inside the grounds of the farm you’ll stumble across a food forest, beehives, vegetable plots, compost bins, roaming hens, a Welsh pony, grazing livestock, a produce shop, worm farms and their new Soil Factory initiative. It’s a busy place with many different functioning aspects – but the sense of serenity and calm, and the friendliness of the staff and volunteers onsite make it a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Auckland life.

From 1992 until early 2015, Kelmarna was sub-leased to a mental health provider whose clients used the gardens for therapy and growing their own food. Today, the team continue to support the mental health community and are committed to producing beneficial outcomes for their own volunteers who have mental health diagnoses, through community-based gardening and community-building initiatives.

Education is the beating heart of Kelmarna Gardens. The team has designed and developed an organic demonstration garden which helps them teach people of all ages about home gardening and sustainable living. Working alongside schools and community groups, they help children develop an understanding of where their food comes from, and introduce them to discussions about how to feed themselves sustainably in the future.

Kelmarna is a very special place. It brings diverse sections of society together over food and a common purpose. Through involvement at Kelmarna Gardens, volunteers, customers, organised groups and other visitors meet new people and feel more connected to others in their community. It’s their inclusive approach to welcoming all who come into the grounds that empowers people and makes them feel a sense of ownership and belonging to the local, shared resources and community.

Soil Factory at Kelmarna Gardens:

Our Auckland Ozone crew are pretty stoked to say that they are part of this amazing initiative. Soil Factory is a new local community composting service run out of Kelmarna Gardens, providing affordable food scrap collection and composting in Auckland’s central. suburbs. Every Friday, Andy heads down the hill to our Ozone eatery and roastery from Kelmarna on his e-cargo bike to collect our chaff and coffee grounds – and to have a coffee with the Ozone crew too.

Soil Factory gives local businesses and households the chance to have their organic waste collected weekly by e-cargo bike, and returned to the local food system as compost. After arriving onsite at Kelmarna, the food scraps are hot composted using the NZ Box system, which has been specifically designed in Auckland for the purposes of community-scale food composting. Soil Factory’s composting process also makes good use of other organic by-products and waste materials from local arborists, lawnmowers, coffee roasters and furniture makers, returning all of this nutrition back into the soil and the food production process.

With the finished compost feeding the soil at Kelmarna Gardens to grow more local, organic food, Soil Factory is creating a self-contained food system on the neighbourhood scale. We love the fact that at Ozone, our operational by-products are being used to help produce grow at Kelmarna, which we then purchase and use it in our dishes – and so the cycle continues.
Dream scenario!

All of the Soil Factory’s proceeds fund Kelmarna’s work connecting people with nature, educating people about sustainable food production, and supporting people with experience of mental illness and intellectual disability to garden for therapy.

Kelmarna is a very special place, achieving very special things in our local community.