Edible Garden City concept considered

Sometimes good ideas are not instantly recognised as such - they need time to germinate.

The public food forest concept fits perfectly into that category.

The Canterbury District Health Board raised the idea with the Christchurch City Council more than a year ago because it saw it as a good way to promote physical exercise and healthy eating, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Then, the idea was picked up by Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck and Cr Ali Jones, who decided the time was ripe to allow people to plant fruit trees in city council-owned parks.

Fast-forward three months and the council has jumped with both feet onto the food forest bandwagon and is talking about how it can make Christchurch the best edible Garden City in the world.

All going well, by the end of the summer we could be feasting on crunchy apples or juicy peaches that we have foraged from our neighbourhood parks.

It is a lovely concept that requires minimal outlay and effort on the council's part.

It will provide people who live in properties where there is no outdoor space or where space is limited the chance to experience the simple joy of growing fresh produce - of being able to plant something, watch it grow, and then enjoy the fruits of their labour.

It will make children think more about where the food they eat comes from.

It will also teach people about the value of putting the public good ahead of the private good because all the food grown in the public parks will be open for anyone to forage.

I have read some of the comments from the nay-sayers who think the project will be a flop, that it is the wrong thing for the council to be doing at this time, that it will lead to a rotting stretch of fallen, unclaimed food that will attract plagues of rats, but I respectfully disagree.

This is exactly the positive kind of initiative Christchurch needs.

The council's role will be minimal. It will provide land and some guidance on what to plant, and when, but beyond that the project will be entirely community-driven.

The Press