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'Goal: grow a lot of food on a small plot of land w/ nil pollution'
Lynda Hallinan: Making a difference, one sustainable lettuce at a time
April 16 2017 Lynda Hallinan - Sunday Star Times
[image / Katie Huisman
Practising what they preach: Yotam and Niva Kay, with daughters Lily, 6, and Dina, 3, and dog Luna
OPINION: My late Uncle John was a man of the land whose fingers were never far from the soil ...
Can small-scale food producers still make a viable living without wrecking the environment? Yes, say Yotam and Niva Kay of Pakaraka Permaculture near Thames.
Yotam and Niva, who met as environmental studies students in Israel, have travelled and worked in sustainable agriculture initiatives, community gardens, eco-villages and permaculture gardens from France to Portugal and Costa Rica. When they came to New Zealand, they found kindred spirits at the Koanga Institute and at Epicurean Supplies in Hawke's Bay before making their home on the Coromandel Peninsula ...
As well as supplying restaurants and cafes with microgreens and salad greens, they sell their seasonal crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes and eggplants at the Thames Market on Saturdays and the Clevedon Village Farmers' Market on Sundays.
It's all sown, grown, picked and packed by hand. They make their own compost, only use organic fertilisers ...
How do they cope with weeds? ... they use a technique known as stale-bed cultivation. Prior to sowing, the soil is lightly tilled to encourage weed seed germination and, when the first flush of weed seedlings emerges, they're promptly suffocated under a temporary blanket of permeable weed mat. "The heat from the sun kills the weeds and once you lift the weed mat, you can seed your crop." Niva also harvests weeds to sell as wild greens ...
The Kays aren't afraid of hard work, each putting in at least 60 hours a week. And while they believe the old ways are best, they're also thinking of the future.
They've launched a PledgeMe campaign to fundraise for a solar power system to run a new cool room (to keep their produce fresh post-harvest, reducing waste) and power up their electric car. "By charging an electric delivery car, our vegetables will be delivered in the same way that they are grown – with care for the earth, sunshine and love."
Their campaign, Running on Sunshine (see pakarakafarm.co.nz or pldg.me/pakaraka ) aims to raise $20,000 by the end of the month. They're halfway there, and they're determined. Being carbon-neutral isn't good enough for this passionate pair; they want to be carbon-negative. "We're not using any fossil fuels, we're not emitting anything, plus we're taking carbon from the air and putting it in the ground with our gardening practices."
"If we can grow a lot of food on a small plot of land with no pollution, we're making the soil better, we're making the air better and we're making the world better," she says.
[© 2017 Fairfax New Zealand]
... we have chosen clean, renewable solar energy ... charging an electric delivery car ...
We are growing intensively year round on a ¼ acre and producing over 8,000kg of food a season ...
ADAMA ORGANIC GARDENS
80 Pakaraka RD2 Thames, 3577 New Zealand (map)
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