Community Food Forest update: vehicle access!

It has been a while, perhaps too long; but although it may look like nothing has happened in the last year or two, your intrepid Residents’ Association has navigated a long and complex journey on your behalf, so that we can now, legally, finally, begin our planned community food forest!

Muri Reserve, with the community food forest site. Vehicle access from the end of Muri Road, along the station platform, across the ditch and to a gate in the fence, shown in yellow.

Porirua City Council are building vehicle access this month to the community food forest site on Muri Reserve. The access will go from the end of Muri Road, along the station platform, and across the ditch to a new gate in the fence, as shown in yellow on the map.

Getting the green light

To legally establish the community food forest, and to set it up to continue indefinitely as a community-stewarded project, required several things.

Firstly, we needed an organisation to take responsibility for stewarding the project, and maintaining its links to and engagement with the community. Initial discussions were around establishing a charitable trust, but the constitutional principles of the Residents’ Association to act and liaise on behalf of Pukerua Bay community projects was a natural fit.

Second, we needed a licence to garden on the Muri Reserve site from the Porirua City Council. Although this was more straightforward at the beginning, the process got a bit bogged down because of the Muri Reserve site boundary with the KiwiRail main trunk corridor. The licence was further complicated by the fact that the site is on reserve land, governed by The Reserves Act 1977, which requires more regulations and careful considerations of liability than would otherwise be the case. However, in June 2016, Te Komiti approved our application for the issuing of a licence for gardening, and this agreement has now been signed.

Thirdly, we needed to sign a scary-looking legal access agreement with KiwiRail for the vehicle access, which runs alongside the closed Muri Station platform. This arose from the gardening licence negotiations with council, and involved quite a lot of to-and-fro, and a good amount of persistence on our behalf from council staff. However this agreement is now signed and in place, and work to build the vehicle access will be commencing this month.

We also needed to lodge our shorter-term annual garden plan for the community food forest with the council parks department for approval, which is also happening this week. This is to ensure that we are adhering to local by-laws and so on, and not doing anything silly like planting convolvulus, or having a bonfire. (No, we can’t ever have bonfires on Muri Reserve land. Sorry.)

And finally, we needed to agree to pay public liability insurance. This is fairly standard nowadays unfortunately, due to changes in legislation around work safety, occupational health, ACC, local government liability and so on. The RA is now up for an annual insurance bill of a few hundred dollars a year to cover this, and would appreciate any fund-raising ideas or efforts from willing enthusiastic residents!

If you’re still reading this, well done; even more excruciating detail is available in the RA minutes, which you can browse here.

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