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Engaging With The Wider Community

Written by Franzi,

For several years now we have been looking for a way to ‘show more face’ in our local community of Wairoa, but with so many things happening at Kotare and so much work to do, it always felt like there was neither enough time nor energy left to do much outside of our growing village. We have had a stall at the local A&P Show for the last couple of years but it felt necessary to have a more regular presence. So recently we have committed to a weekly market stall at the ‘Made in Wairoa’ Farmers Market that represents Koanga and Kotare Village. We are starting small; sharing information, selling seeds and produce and generally networking with the townspeople.

The ‘Made in Wairoa’ Farmer’s Market is very well organised and runs every Saturday morning from September to April. When I found myself home with a baby I jumped at the opportunity to start up a stall! At the moment our display is mainly about Koanga, with a beautiful wooden box full of heritage seeds that can be planted now (pretty much all of them grown at Kotare), Kay’s books and booklets about gardening, composting, seed saving, nutrient dense food etc., and my own art prints which started off as black & white illustrations for the Koanga Seed Collections. Ben and Whitney have been adding some beautiful bright yellow crookneck squash from their Urban Garden for sale, and Kay has been supplying baskets full of loads of different heritage tomato varieties from her garden for display.

We are now three weeks in. We turn up around 7.15am, which is okay as we’re living in town at the moment, and I usually have my little helper Bobby (4 months old) with me in the carrier. All the stallholders help each other setting up the gazebos and about 8.15am the first customers start turning up, mainly to buy veggies from the spray-free veggie stall next to ours, which is run by a lovely older couple who moved to Wairoa from Pukekohe. Our stall is slow compared to some of the others (there’s home-made dog food, a coffee cart, lavender soaps, herbal balms, native tree seedlings, chocolates, beeswax food wraps etc.) but the beautiful display draws lots of comments. The first two weeks were very wet and windy, so fairly quiet which was good for me to get a feel for the whole thing, and there was still a few very interested people to chat with and give brochures. This last Saturday I had to leave early due to a music gig in Waipukurau, so Renee and Wendy volunteered to take over and sold lots of things!!! I’m sure the bright sunshine helped, so hopefully we’ll have a better run with the weather over the next few weeks.

Looking to the future, we’d love to expand the stall to be an outlet for Kotare Village’s products like organic veggies, crafts, herbal remedies…. anything that fits within our philosophy of regenerative living, and shows the local community who we really are – not a bunch of hippies (some of the locals still like calling us the ‘commune’) but a group of people dedicated to face the big issues of our times.

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