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Kaiapoi Food Forest connecting the community

The beauty of the Kaiapoi Food Forest, says co-creator Brent Cairns, is it brings people together.

Brent and his wife Shirley kick-started the project in 2017 on a large plot of red-zoned land.

Since then, over 1500 donated trees and plants have been planted in the food forest, which has been thriving with the help of local volunteers.

“The whole idea of the food forest is about connecting people,” Brent says.

“We looked at what people in the community wanted out of this project, and it wasn’t just food – they wanted to learn how to grow food sustainably, they wanted to to come and have picnics here, to go for a walk and enjoy nature.”

He says members of the community give their time to take care of the food forest.

“People just come in and help out where they can,” he says.

“We have a local sign writer who comes and does painting. He has painted a whole lot of water barrels and the cubby house, making the forest incredibly bright and colourful.”

He says the aim over the next few years is to make the food forest as sustainable as possible, and create opportunities to educate locals.

“In the next couple of years, it’s going to be almost impossible to stop the food forest from producing food. We are setting up a legacy.”

“We are trying to set up education programmes as well; we are teaching people how to grow food such as kumara or kamokamo, we’ve got a sourdough programme and we are looking at developing a rongoa programme focusing on traditional medicinal plants.”

He says it’s all part of the Kaiapoi Food Forest vision: Connect, Nourish, Educate, Inspire.

The Kaiapoi Food Forest is located on the corners of Cass St, Meadow St and Oram Pl.

Find out more about the food forest by visiting