Garden to teach disadvantaged youth

Te Puna-based social enterprise, Grow Food Instead, is now halfway through their crowdfunding campaign.

Their mission is to set up educational market gardens to teach disadvantaged youth how to grow food for our communities.

Founders Rachel Yeats and Brad Harding have spent the past fortnight reaching out to Tauranga residents and businesses to gain their support, and have so far raised half of their $10,000 goal, which will cover their set up costs (purchase pumps and irrigation, tools, cloches and nursery, seeds, washing stations etc).

“We’ve been floored by the enthusiastic response we’ve received from everyone that we’ve talked to. Everyone can see that there is a real need for this in our community.

“We have even received pledges from people overseas that we don’t know! They think this is a really innovative way to address social disadvantage in accessibility to healthy food,” says Rachel.

The first step in Grow Food Instead’s plan is to set up a profitable, small scale, bio-intensive market garden as an educational hub, providing community workshops, summer internships for high school students, and paid apprenticeships for socially disadvantaged youth.

Once the youth are fully trained, Grow Food Instead will help them set up a market garden of their own.

They believe that setting up small scale market gardens around Tauranga is the first step towards regenerating a local food system, leading to increased food security and food sovereignty.

Two local eateries have gone a step further and begun actively fundraising to contribute to the campaign on PledgeMe.

Bethlehem cafe, Good Things Kitchen, offered their support as soon as she heard about the project.

Owner Carly Styles has made a commitment to serving her customers as much healthy, seasonal local fare as she can find, and is pledging $2 from every serving of soup they sell to the crowdfunding campaign.

“I wanted to be on board from the very start. It’s such an important thing that they’re doing. We started ’Soup that does Good Things’ as soon as I had spoken to Rachel and seen how passionate she was not just about supporting youth but also about building a local food culture.” says Carly.

Health food truck Garden of Eden Health also reached out to Grow Food Instead to help them raise the funds they need. Managers Laura Robb and Gareth Sven Corder have been selling feijoas and offering a chilli challenge from locations in Mount Maunganui and Papamoa, and will continue to do so at the Delightful Festival of Body and Sound 22-24 April.

“We endeavour to source all our ingredients sustainably and ethically. For us this means looking at local producers to reduce the impact of the foods journey to our little truck and to support grassroots organisations.

“It means finding food that is full of nutrients so people are getting nourished and not harmed,” says Laura.

“My vision is for Garden of Eden Health to motivate and contribute in the transformation of people developing healthier lives. This is a fantastic opportunity to create change and establish a healthy, nourished and thriving community,” says Gareth.

Grow Food Instead is excited to have both eateries on board with their mission as they count down to the end of their campaign on April 28.

They are encouraging everyone in the Bay of Plenty to give them their support and make a pledge at

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