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Ōtautahi comes together to support Ōtākaro Orchard

Pretoria Gordon
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Preparations for the volunteers to support the Ōtākaro Orchard.  Pretoria Gordon

Located on the banks of the Avon River, Ōtākaro Orchard is run by a group of passionate volunteers committed to creating an edible garden and a sustainable community hub in the heart of Ōtautahi.

One volunteer is Hayley Guglietta, the chairperson of Ōtākaro Orchard and the Food Resilience Network, who launched a fundraising campaign earlier this week to help construct a sustainable community hub promoting environmental awareness and food security in Canterbury.

The sustainable community hub is part of Ōtākaro Orchard's final phase and will be called the Ōtākaro Orchard Information Centre and Café.

The future of Ōtākaro Orchard: the Information Centre and Cafe project under construction. Pretoria Gordon

One of the most exciting aspects of Ōtākaro Orchard is the Thursday morning working bees, which have become a popular fixture in the local community. Every Thursday from 9:30am to 11:30am, volunteers work on various tasks around the orchard, from planting and weeding to harvesting and composting.

The working bees are open to anyone interested in getting involved, regardless of their experience or expertise. They provide a valuable opportunity to learn about sustainable food production and connect with others who share their passion for healthy, local food.

The entrance to Ōtākaro Orchard, where you'll find a vibrant community hub promoting sustainable living and environmental awareness. Pretoria Gordon

But the Ōtākaro Orchard is more than just a garden. It is a hub of community activity, hosting various events and activities throughout the year, such as workshops, film screenings, and community meals. The orchard has become a popular destination for school groups who learn about sustainable food systems and the importance of local food production.

The Ōtākaro Orchard project has also received recognition for its innovative approach to community building and sustainable food production. In 2022, it was awarded the Sustainable Communities Award by the Canterbury Region Regional Council in recognition of its contribution to building a more sustainable and resilient community.

The Ōtākaro information centre and café project is expected to open at the end of the year and will showcase food producers, community gardens, urban farms and food-related organisations.

Guglietta says the project represents a step forward in promoting sustainable living in Christchurch. 

“We believe this project will inspire others to think about creating sustainable communities resilient to climate change and environmental degradation.”