Common Interest

Kelmarna: Creating A Food System Kinder To The Planet

Interview with Sarah McFadden, General Manager at Kelmarna

Kelmarna: Creating A Food System Kinder To The Planet

Nestled in the heart of Tāmaki Makarau, Kelmarna is an urban farm whose purpose is to rebuild connections between people, food production and the land.

Working to champion and demonstrate regenerative local food systems, Kelmarna supports climate change mitigation, urban resilience and community wellbeing, all from a 4 acre plot in Ponsonby. Here, the team and volunteers tend to Kelmarna’s many vegetable beds and fruit trees, and its food forest. The farm is also home to sheep, bees and chooks, and an impressive community compost hub.

Each of Kelmarna’s farming operations serves multiple purposes, from forming the basis of its educational and therapeutic programmes to providing food for its community. General Manager, Sarah McFadden, embodies the spirit of Kelmarna, reflecting the passion and dedication of its team and volunteers who together work to bring more sustainable solutions into the food system to create one that is kinder to the planet, fair to farmers, and better for health. “Food plays an essential role in building community and connecting us to the land.”

Supporting community health and wellbeing is one of Kelmarna’s strategic goals. Subsequently, community is woven into everything they do. “We want the farm to be a place that creates opportunities for connection and participation with others, and ultimately be a place people can feel at home in,” says Sarah.

Through volunteering sessions, daily communal lunches, education and event programmes there are plenty of ways people can get involved. “We love seeing the connections and friendships that are sown and nurtured within the Kelmarna community!”


A site used for growing food for over 40 years, the land Kelmarna occupies has a long agricultural history and has played an important and vital role in promoting the benefits of urban farms and green spaces. Sarah affirms that it is encouraging to see a greater understanding and recognition of the role urban farming can play in feeding urban populations and in addressing some of the issues caused by climate change, “we have a special opportunity here with this piece of land to showcase that.” To further demonstrate diverse models of regenerative agriculture, Kelmarna recently undertook a development project which saw them redesign their paddocks to make better use of the land. “We can see the huge potential to produce an abundance of food, create meaningful jobs, train future farmers and more!”