Muri Reserve access progress

We will soon have much improved access to the Muri Reserve, thanks to Porirua City Council – here’s the work in progress.

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.

Community Food Forest planning workshop

A one-day planning workshop was held at The Woolshed on 12 March 2016 to plan the first stages of setting up the Pukerua Bay Community Food Forest. Attendance was thinner than previous meetings, nevertheless we made a great deal of collective decisions and progress, and this was summarised into our document, Plan for Autumn-Winter 2016 (PDF). See also the Planting Guide (PDF) produced as the result of earlier research work and meetings.

Muri Reserve community food forest site
Muri Reserve community food forest site

Many thanks to go to Richard Self for ably leading our workshop process, and for sharing his experiences with the Wellington Innermost Gardens community garden!

Minutes from the garden planning meeting

Thanks to those who attended the meeting last Thursday! I’m sorry I’ve left it so late but here are the minutes from the meeting.

There was a lot of lively discussion, and some of the ideas and suggestions follow:

  • A Pukerua Bay garden tour fundraiser event
  • Learn from the Island Bay Community Garden – watch the NZ documentary, Gardening With Soul (see below for the trailer)
  • Allotments produce vegetables quickly, while the food-forest take a few years to establish.
  • Allotments also provide social opportunities
  • All sorts of opportunities to involve the school
  • Start the orchard trees off in the school shade-house and get the kids involved early
  • A school trip to learn from Raumati School’s garden project
  • Use produce from the food forest in school lunches
  • Beehives
  • Heritage varieties – educational opportunities
  • Growing mushrooms in sawdust, logs, compost
  • Erosion and sediment control plan, if we do any earthworks (e.g. building swales)
  • Use the PKB Traders Facebook page

Expertise

Amongst the group here we have: gardening, beekeeping, manual labour, web and graphic design, signwriting, building, and a structural engineer, and probably all sorts of other skills I’m not aware of…!

Actions

  1. There is a “field trip” this Sunday 11 May for anyone keen – we’re going to look at Pauline’s excellent garden at 10am and then go and have a look at the proposed site in Muri Reserve (see map). I’m hoping we can get Richard and/or Tim from Innermost Gardens (Majoribanks Street, Wellington) to come along and help us with ideas.
  2. It’s great to have the RA behind the garden scheme, and it’s part of the village plan. Iain is going to follow up with getting the required official permission from Porirua City Council. This will probably involve some paperwork – some of which will come under the RA banner.
  3. Iain is also going to set up the gardens email list – more about that soon.
  4. Create an A4 poster for the dairy & school notice boards, school shade house, and something to go in the school newsletter.
  5. If we wanted to we could set about getting the long grass on the site under control with a team of mowers and weed-trimmers at any time, without the council’s permission.
  6. Also worth noting there is a Residents Association meeting on Tuesday 13 May for those interested.