At Kowtow, we are inspired by Kaicycle’s small changes that make a big impact. Whether it’s regenerative and organic farming, circularity or composting, we have a shared purpose to do better for the planet. Through our long standing relationship with Kaicycle - and years of using their composting service - we have worked together to divert our waste from landfill to compost.
Kaicycle is an urban farming, composting and community activation project on Hospital Road in Newtown, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. Using regenerative Hua Parakore principles to compost local food waste and produce nutrient-dense food, Kaicycle is on a mission to grow healthy communities through education and innovation, for a better future.
We spoke to Kaicycle Urban Farm Community Manager, Phoebe Balle, about the importance of productive green spaces and the positive impact urban farms and community gardens have on our ecosystems and communities. As Community Manager, Phoebe is responsible for delivering volunteering, education and community outreach programmes to establish Kaicycle as a regenerative community hub for learning, healing and connecting.
Why do you think community gardens and urban farms are important for our ecosystem and communities?
Regenerative urban farms and composting hubs are cornerstones of a resilient, kai-secure and climate-ready future for our cities.
Urban farms like Kaicycle provide a platform for collective action and education around nutritious local food, soil regeneration and carbon sequestration. They are green sanctuaries full of life for people needing to be surrounded by softness. They are venues for community events and gigs, sources of inspiration and materials for artists, weavers and musicians. They are wonderlands of discovery for toddlers. They are smell-sensations for our doggos. Urban farms on public land like Kaicycle demonstrate the ‘Triumph of the Commons’ where a local community together negotiates a whole range of complimentary land-uses.
What are some of the challenges that Kaicycle faces?
Land availability is a real challenge. There aren't many sunny flattish green sites available in Wellington, and local and national regulations make it very hard to grow food on public land. We are looking to partner with organisations, institutions, councils, and private landowners to explore other land access opportunities. Longer term, we are hoping to see our local and central government enact legislation to promote urban farming. Another challenge is securing sustainable funding to pay our amazing staff. We are partially self-funded through the sale of vegetables and seedlings but due to the limitations of our current site, we also rely on grants and donations (shout out to Wellington City Council, our biggest funder). We are always looking for more Friends of the Farm interested in financially supporting the important work we do!
“[Urban farms] are green sanctuaries full of life for people needing to be surrounded by softness."
What are the things that make this project thrive?
An amazing community of volunteers and collaborators, funding from generous donors, and committed and passionate staff.
What is the driving force for working at an urban farm like Kaicycle?
A commitment to an expansive vision of regeneration that includes social and environmental outcomes for our community.
Spring is nearly here! Do you have any tips for fellow gardeners to help encourage biodiversity, avoid pesticides, or encourage other organic and regenerative practices?
What are the small and simple things that gardeners can do to make a difference in their urban spaces?
- Plant densely! Soil is never exposed in natural systems. Do your best to fill every part of a garden bed with plants!
- Mulch mulch mulch! Mulch is a great way to suppress weeds, protect your soil from erosion and drought, and add organic material. Try dried cut (spray free) grass or leaves.
- Try thinking of weeds as volunteers not problems. Most weeds won't outcompete a healthy veggie garden and they are adding to the biodiversity and resilience of your system. They can also act as a green mulch, protecting soil you've left exposed. If you do want to remove a weed, try 'chopping and dropping' it where it becomes a free mulch layer.