There is no better way to make fresh and healthy food affordable and accessible than to have it growing by your kitchen door, Sophia Leon de la Barra says.
Miss Leon de la Barra has recently launched a new social enterprise – Hapori o te Ao – with Ali Stock.
The two Oamaru women are building, filling and planting custom raised garden beds to help people convert lawn into edible gardens, using no-dig layering.
Their aim was to help people grow fresh food in their backyards as a pathway to building local food resilience and family wellbeing, Miss Leon de la Barra said.
“We enjoy supporting people who want to become more self-sustainable, by feeding themselves and others, while connecting with Mother Earth,” Ms Stock said.
Hapori o te Ao means “community of the world”. It was founded on the concept of “paying it forward”. For every 10 square metres of garden beds made for paying customers, they are donating a square-metre garden to a local family in need.
“We have asked a wide range of local service providers, Safer Waitaki and church leaders to help us identify families that would benefit from an edible garden,” Miss Leon de la Barra said.
There were “numerous” health benefits to gardening and growing your own food, Miss Leon de la Barra said.
“We really want to help people grow fresh food in their backyard.
“Resilient food systems are defined by the capacity of people to produce and access nutritious food in the face of disturbance and change.”
So far, the response had been positive. They had built garden beds for six families, two individuals and one school.
“I think lockdown has increased people’s awareness that food resilience starts at home,” she said.
“People were spending more time at home and had an opportunity to reconnect with gardening and self-sufficiency, spending more time doing those activities that they never quite had enough time for in their busy lives.
“Growing your own food is easy to identify with since we all love to eat and spend time in our backyards.”