Wednesday, 05 June 2024 15:55

Cultivating produce and people

Written by  Jessica Marshall
The Hamlin Road Farm team is proud of their sustainability credentials. The Hamlin Road Farm team is proud of their sustainability credentials.

The team behind two-time Outstanding Food Producer Award winner Hamlin Road Farm says it is extremely proud to be recognised for its sustainable practices.

In April, the farm was named BYD Auto New Zealand Sustainability Champion, having first won the award in 2021.

Hamlin Road Farm is part of Pathways Health Ltd, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and provider of mental health and addiction services, funded by Health New Zealand to provide transitional employment skills and NZQA training for tangata whai ora (people seeking health) in the Counties Manukau area.

“This was the award we really wanted to win as sustainability influences our actions, it’s front of mind in everything that we do,” Hewitt told Rural News.

The farm was set up in collaboration with the local community who met to see what the need was in the Papakura area, and it was discussed that organic eggs and produce was an option.

“From there the farm flourished, expanding as we grew our business and revenue creating more gardens, tunnel houses and propagation houses which in turn lead to being able to support more people in our services,” Hewitt says.

“As a recovery focused organisation, our inspirational purpose is that we support people to live full lives, hopeful and connected to what matters to them,” she says.

“At Hamlin Road Farm, we support our tangata whai ora to pathway into open employment or further their studies. The majority of staff at the farm are peers, we work alongside our people role modelling, supporting and coaching them on their recovery journey. Our tangata whai ora leave with new confidence, skills and qualifications setting them up to connect and contribute back to their local community.”

Hewitt says that since winning the award in 2021, Hamlin Road Farm made significant changes in response to extreme weather conditions and climate change.

“It was great to be recognised for this,” she says. “We have focused on effective drainage, planted Kahikatea trees for enhanced water absorption, storage and carbon sequestration, expanded our native gardens fostering biomass and sustenance for bees and birds, introduced two goats and a lamb for organic weed management, started transitioning from petrol to electric weedeaters to name a few.”

Hewitt says that organic certification and sustainability go hand in hand with the work the team at Hamlin Road Farm do.

“We are certified Asurequality so there is consumer confidence that we are following organic and sustainable practices and standards,” she says.

“We grow seasonally, practice companion planting and crop rotation, focus on enhancing soil fertility and nutrition and are increasing developing our own seed bank,” Hewitt says, adding that Hamlin Road Farm only sells within its local community.

“We are regulars at both Parnell and Clevedon Farmers Markets, have a roadside stall and have our own web store all to lessen our carbon footprint.

“All of this is some of the impact we are making on not only our business sustainability but for food security for our local community,” she says.

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