And the winner is….

Ames Street line up
Ames Street line up

Ames Street of Paekākāriki has been named Kāpiti Coast’s Greenest Neighbourhood 2014 in a well-attended prizegiving at the Sustainable Home and Garden Show over the weekend.

The neighbourhoods were judged on a combination of factors: the size of their final footprint, how much they reduced their footprint over the duration of the competition and how they came together as a community. The last factor was evaluated by our  panel of judges who toured the neighbourhoods at the start and end of the competition and followed their activities in between via this blog.

Ames Street attained a final footprint of 1.4 Earths* – an improvement of 19% from the start of the competition – winning $2000 to be split between a community group, a school and a neighbourhood project of their choice. Waimeha Lagoon finished on 1.2 Earths, down by 11%. Reikorangi’s footprint measurement was incomplete. The New Zealand average is 2.1 Earths.

“We benefitted from lots of initiatives started by previous Greenest Neighbourhood entrants, so it’s a win for the whole village really,” says Ames Street’s coordinator Vicky Noon.

Her neighbour Shona Jaunas credited Vicky with “the huge undertaking of getting us all out of our own worlds and into the project”.

Continue reading

Green Street Legacy

Talking to a couple of my fellow ‘Green Streeters’ this week about “where we go from here” it occurred to us, looking at the past Paekakariki Green Streeters, that the impact of this completion really does last. It’s hard to say whether some community projects initiated by previous Green Streeters would have happened anyway, as these people were community focused already, but they really help to make Paekakariki a great place to live. Here are some of the local initiatives we’ve used as a team:
(1) Our team has regularly used the village’s Facebook trading page (set up by Flo McNeill) to get second-hand goods during the completion.
(2) A previous team hires out a Community mulcher to anyone in the village,
(3) This year there was a community bulk purchase of straw to use as mulch on our edible garden beds,
(4) Kakariki Street still have their weekly garden working bees/pot luck suppers,
(5) The Wellington Road rat trap design is still being used – with the Paekakariki Scouts making us rat traps this year,
(6) The Community Compost club,
(7) Flo has been championing Led street lights and the ‘White Roofs NZ’ for the village.
That said it seems the real legacy is to change people’s mind-set so that members of the community are more open to different ways of doing things.

Paekakariki Edible Garden Trail


On the 9th March our new Community Allotment (at Janet and Shona’s Dad’s) and the extended Community Garden (on Vicky and Rob’s Berm) were included as part of the first Paekakariki Edible Garden Trail. This was a brain child of Flo McNeill (a previous Green Streeter) as part of the ‘Local Table’ competition, https://www.facebook.com/groups/localtable/. It was a great day to showcase all the hardwork we’ve done on these shared spaces during the Green Neighbourhood competition.

What the judges saw: the final tour

On Sunday 9 March, judges for the Kapiti Coast’s Greenest Neighbourhood made their second and final visit to the three groups participating in this year’s competition. Neighbours from Ames Street, Paekākāriki; Waimeha Lagoon, Waikanae Beach; and Reikorangi, Waikanae have spent eight-and-a-half months seeking to reduce their environmental footprint, increase resilience and build community, and this was their opportunity to show off some of their achievements.

Judges with Reikorangi residents
Judges with Reikorangi residents

‘Inspiring’ was the word for the day as Mayor Ross Church, Professor Brenda Vale, Paul Kennett, Kath Irvine and Bob Glensor were guided through productive gardens, a variety of composting methods, rainwater collection and green transport choices. Alongside the individual lifestyle changes was a constant theme of thriving new communities.

“The community aspect has been brilliant”, said Robyn White from Ames Street, “Probably the best thing for us.”

Rick Swan echoed this later in Reikorangi, saying “More community networking has been achieved in a year than in the previous eighteen I’ve lived here”. Continue reading

Denise’s productive small garden

Posted on behalf of Denise, Waimeha Lagoon.

Here are some photos of my garden. I’ve got an enormous crop of passionfruit and an endless supply of kale. I have resorted to drying all the kale and crushing it into powder and adding to smoothies. I must say I found a good recipe for vegan cheese and kale chips - they were quite tasty – but I’ve eaten them to death.

This summer has seen good growth on my lime tree and some of the flowers have set fruit, which is encouraging. I have been using cardboard boxes and damp newspapers for slug traps. They are quite effective, you just have to check them often and squash the slugs.
I’ve had lots of sunflowers and I keep the seeds and grow sunflower sprouts to eat in winter. I am going to do the same with kale and broccoli seeds. I have been saving a lot of seeds (I usually let one plant go to seed) and have them drying on the kitchen windowsill. I was reading an article about polyculture for small spaces (UK Permaculture magazine) and thought I might give this a go next spring as I don’t have a lot of garden space.

I have been saving seed from radish, rocket, radicchio, parsley, coriander, calendula, spring onion and will add some bought seeds like cress, different lettuces, mizuna, etc to the mix and sow in the prepared plot in spring. The beginnings of the polyculture is in the jar in the photo of the seeds on the windowsill.
This year I grew the chilli peppers and capsicums inside. They have cropped really well and have grown enormous. I have been getting some worm wee from a ‘freecycler’ and the plants seem to like that.
IMG_1436I have enjoyed the Greenest Neighbourhood challenge, the opportunity to meet new people, swap ideas and plants and to learn new things too. The whole exercise has made me more aware of re-using things, reducing waste and recycling.
I have given away and found some very useful things on Freecycle, I’ve composted all the community newspapers and cardboard, used jute shopping bags, got a ‘No Circular’ sign for the mailbox, getting meat scraps and pet mince from the butcher and cooking up my own pet food to eliminate all the tins from commercial petfood, installed a rainwater tank (though I’m drinking the rainwater and using the municipal water for the garden), saving more seeds than usual and using my bike more.

Fruit Rescue is Born (and Adopted)

In response to complaints that neglected fruit trees on some Te Moana Road properties were attracting rodents, our group developed a ‘Fruit Rescue’ service. The aim was to distribute unwanted fruit and nuts throughout our community. We were not so much driven by charity as by waste reduction and lowering food miles. ‘Donors’ would be given preserves or tree-pruning in exchange for produce.

As we began to publicise the service, we discovered a food rescue charity called Community Fruit. Community Fruit is based is Wellington, but takes donations and gleans unwanted produce from backyards and orchards in Kāpiti. Most of what is rescued is distributed through Kaibosh or local foodbanks.

It didn’t make sense for two groups to be operating in the same space. We had a series of discussions about working together. In the end, we (at Waimeha Lagoon) agreed to help promote Community Fruit and provide volunteers to harvest unwanted produce – as required – in our area. Last weekend we were picking in Peka Peka. We have distributed flyers, and are working with local mowing contractors to target households with neglected trees. We are also in touch with the Council’s Environmental Health officers who are keen to engage with residents and Community Fruit if similar complaints arise in the future.

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Community Fruit could use more volunteers (and donors) in the district. Contact Julie on pickfruitnthwellington@gmail.com, 0272406606 or via Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pickfruitwellington.

Ames St. Street Party

On Saturday we held a Street Party on Ames Street. Ames Street is actually a long street with ~ 80 houses. The plan was for the whole street, not just our Green Street team, to get together. We were aware than one of the outcomes from the Christchurch Quakes was that community was found to be one of the most important factors for resilience. So we really wanted everyone on the street to meet so we can band together if we have a Civil Defence Emergency too. It really was a fantastic night! Continue reading

Water Saving

During the Green Street competition we decided to take up the Council’s Water Retrofit Service Grant scheme. The Council will pay up to $5,000 for the cost of adding water saving schemes to your house. You then pay this back in your rates over 10 years, so only needing to pay ~$5 extra a month. It’s a very easy form to complete with little more than your name, address, property value and the quotes from the Suppliers attached.

We used Paul from Tanks2You (http://www.tanks2you.co.nz/) to provide our tanks, pump and to install them around our house. They’re fully installed now and Paul has made sure that every drop of water that falls onto our house roof and garage roof can be captured to be used to water our garden. Continue reading

Julie Young, Waimeha Lagoon, on Greenest Neighbourhood

(Posted on behalf of Julie)

This been a great time in the garden, there’s been a lot happening in the year.  I planted sweet peas to bring in new friends and I think it worked.  I’ve made lots of new friends through the greenest st competition; we have worked together on a number of projects.

Julie talks to the judges at the initial Greenest Neighbourhood tour.
Julie talks to the judges at the initial Greenest Neighbourhood tour.

The children’s community garden has been planted with three crops now.  The beetroot are long eaten as are radish, we have a great store of garlic, lettuces consumed, sweet peas finished.  We still have crops of strawberries, alpine too (a white strawberry), they are eaten daily.  The neighbourhood children come and check out the garden, harvest the produce, grapes, peas, strawberries, zucchini etc…They exclaim….wow….if they haven’t been for a bit.  One keen 11year old boy Dean came and asked for seeds yesterday to start a garden at home…..I sent him away with 12 different seeds of choice, and will help him establish his own garden if he so desires.

During the holidays the ‘food foresters’ come, my grandson and his mates, they enjoy the children’s garden, forage, mulch, plant, eat, run skip and hop through, water too.  This is a little group of four Phoenix, Keish, Ngha and Tyler 5yr-8yrs, they often stay the night, we have BBQs, fires on the beach, bike rides, foraging around the neighbourhood and swims at the river, sea and pool. These are special times for me.  We are developing a food forest at 42 Queens Rd. Continue reading

Release your inner eco-architect

This year at the Sustainable Home & Garden Show we want to build an amazing Lego® eco-town and we’d love to have your help (and that of your children)!

Lego_house_cropped_top_view_bus_in_front_reducedThe town will be on display at the Sustainable Home and Garden Show on 22/23 March at Kapiti Primary School, Paraparaumu.

There’s a range of categories to spark your imagination and some helpful guidelines for eco-building, so go to http://www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/ecotownbuildingcomp to register your interest and claim a plot of land! Registrations close 5pm on 7 March so get in quick.

Prizes will be awarded for the best models, thanks to Toyworld Coastlands.

Disclaimer: “LEGO®is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this competition”.