Social enterprise Market Garden
Our mission is to improve access to regeneratively grown kai for Ōtaki whānau, while exploring, demonstrating and educating in human-scale regenerative gardening techniques.
We’re a registered charity. But the term “charity” doesn’t quite fit our kaupapa. A brighter future of localised, environmentally friendly food production cannot depend on volunteer labour or the volatility of grants and philanthropists. We must build models that respect the hard work and knowledge required to grow healthy vege, while remaining economically viable.
Yet we also know that, currently, regeneratively grown organic kai is often impossible to afford for the average whānau who want to make conscious choices.
We’re a social enterprise. That means we are working toward a place of financial self-sufficiency without compromising our environmental or social ethics. There is no legal structure in Aotearoa for social enterprises (unlike most other countries), and so being a registered charity is the closest we can get to a legal structure that recognises we don’t measure success by profits. This legal structure makes it easier to partner with suppliers, accept donations and access grants until these larger one-off establishment costs are out of the way.
Additionally, it makes it a bit easier to engage in projects that don’t offer a direct financial return - such as the school groups we have hosted on site.
Charities registration number: CC61429
Our māra kai is built on organic, regenerative, community-first principles.
Prioritising soil and ecological health produces healthy vegetables without the need for the destructive processes of industrial agriculture.
We minimise soil disturbance (such as mechanical tillage), remove synthetic fertilisers and sprays, use cover cropping, diverse plantings and grow habitat for insects. This fosters healthy soil and enriches biodiversity, which in turn fosters healthy plants, while looking after our environment. Looking after our environment and producing healthy kai is key to healthy communities.
Regenerative agriculture seeks to regenerate, rather than degenerate the soils and biodiversity of agricultural systems.
who are we?
We became pals while bunching carrots at a regenerative market garden in Taranaki called Kaitake Farm. We bonded over the urge to change the way we grow and eat food in Aotearoa (and punk music).
After years of working in sustainable gardens, we were increasingly bothered by the image of organic, sustainable kai as inaccessible for the working class. True sustainability must be accessible for all.
I’ve been into noisy music way longer than I’ve been into gardening. I fell into this after I dropped out of a music degree and started looking after my partner’s abandoned garden.
I was surprised by how much I loved finding freaky bugs and mushies. So I hounded Taranaki organic market garden, Kaitake Farm, until they gave me a job some years ago.
I grew up in Taranaki, and whakapapa to Ngāti Rua Nui. I’m here because I don’t know how the average whānau is supposed to eat healthy fresh kai. If we don’t change the way we grow and eat food, we’re cooked.
I love compost, endomycorrhizal fungi and defending the importance of parasitic wasps in an ecosystem.
I wasn’t born with a green thumb - Mum’s appeals to the joy of weeding were always suspicious to me. But later on, I began to see connections between deforestation, food inequality and climate change, gardening offered a place to do good.
I grew up in Whakatū and whakapapa to Waikato (Ngati Pāoa) and Wales. I fell into all this after a failed film career, while looking for a more positive way to make social and environmental change than throwing (metaphorical) bricks at banks invested in fossil fuels and wars.
And it turned out I really really really liked doing it. Sorry for not realising sooner, Mum (weeding still sucks). I spent several years WWOOFing on organic farms in the Balkans, Ireland and France, before working for a heritage seed charity and then Kaitake Farm for the last couple of years.