The supply of fresh produce is as political in the Wellington region as it is internationally, organisers of a Newtown market have discovered.
The organisers of a pilot project to set up a community market in Newtown visited other such markets in the region and asked suppliers if they would also supply the Newtown venture.
One of the organisers, Duncan Holland, said a member of his group was threatened with repercussions if the Newtown market went ahead.
‘They see this will drain away from what they’re doing without realising there’s a whole community that will add to it. I guess they see that the cake’s only so big and they’ve got so much of it now and they don’t want to share it with anyone.’
The group then approached growers from out of town to ask for a supply.
‘But there were all these excuses—“Oh, we’re scared you won’t make any money,” and “Oh, it’s the wrong time of day”, or “Oh, if you had it on a different day of the week…”
‘Finally one man said to us, “The people that I supply wouldn’t like it if I supplied you”.
These experiences showed the fragility of the supply of food into the city.
‘It’s in a few hands and it’s really fragile,’ Duncan said.
The group is now looking for a way to get production onto an urban basis.
‘There was someone here today selling organic avocados grown in Mt Cook, someone else had organic lemons grown in Island Bay. I might have too many cabbages on my section so I know I can come down here and swap or barter them for something else or simply sell them outright. So that’s kind of the mission that seems to be coming out of this.’
‘There is heaps of land round the suburb that could be allocated to people for production—it’s definitely possible and some organisations have been working for years to get these ideas to take hold in the collective consciousness,’ he says.