Are you a good neighbour? Lessons from Tauranga…

I have had an incredible week in Tauranga, where I feel privileged to have hosted a workshop on large-scale Bokashi for The Good Neighbour project.

If you’re not familiar with this organisation, I highly recommend you take a minute to find out more – the extent and size of this project is truly humbling. Having just returned from Thailand and Myanmar, where I was enormously inspired by the efforts and collective impact of these communities, it is wonderful to discover something so forward-thinking in our own backyard.

John and Jackie Paine are the amazing driving force behind The Good Neighbour project, putting in endless hours and enthusiasm over 4 years to develop approximately 116 community gardens and rescue now on average 38 tonnes of food from landfill every month.

This food is weighed, recorded and then sorted into boxes to go back out into the community, to support those who need it. Excess food is frozen as required, and they have recently started building a commercial kitchen, so they can process additional food into pickles, jams, juices and pre-cooked meals.

For example, during my visit they had received delivery of bread, pastries, snacks and fruit that they sorted, boxed and distributed for the school holiday programme for afternoon tea. How fantastic is this?!

If we look at each different area in our community and our country, these projects could be duplicated everywhere. We could keep food out of landfill and feed communities in need for free. GENIUS….

There are over 100 volunteers involved in this project, and I want to take a moment to recognise and acknowledge the achievement and efforts of each and every one.

I contributed during my visit by sharing my knowledge of large scale Bokashi and the processes needed to support their efforts from kitchen to compost to garden, including auditing their food waste.

By using this clever system, they will be able to consistently add great value to their soil in the community gardens by re-using their own food waste – which is very much the ethos of their entire project – and this saves them money rather than buying new garden mix every season.

I also gave them an introduction to EM (effective microorganisms), which they can derive enormous benefit from using in their community projects including rearing chickens, cleaning drains and toilets and managing garden pests and disease.

The solution is simple.

Let’s create nutrient rich soil; let’s support the restoration of our land; let’s be socially responsible people as part of this planet and keep our food out of landfill, where it creates toxic gas and destroys our planet.

The way forward is to use EM and Bokashi, together with our food waste, to grow more amazing clean food.

I’m sure you’ll agree, the Good Neighbour is such an inspiring, heart-warming project that benefits the whole community. If you’re working on a project of a similar nature and feel that my expertise could benefit you too, please get in touch – I’d love to see where I can help!

Over the next few weeks on the blog, we will start the focus on summer pest and disease control and what to feed your garden and when for the ultimate results.

For those that receive my weekly newsletter, you’ll be familiar with the Knowledge Bed section, where I answer your gardening questions. This is now growing fast and I have decided to evolve this into a private Facebook group for members, which will enable me to respond quicker to assist you. I’ll be launching this soon and inviting you to join, so stay tuned!

For now though, please continue to contact me with your questions through the website or on Facebook anytime and do keep them short and to one subject at a time to best enable me to answer.

Happy gardening!


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