Whenua Warrior connecting communities to plant gardens

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

A gardening expert is calling on all earth warriors to get in behind her to plant community gardens around Auckland.

Kelly Marie left her career in the corporate world to start Whenua Warrior, a social enterprise and charitable trust that empowers communities to grow their own produce. Since then she's helped mobilise over 150 families and communities to muck in and embark on their own food cultivation journeys. 

"I'm aiming to get a harvestable garden available for every New Zealander; have access to it via any means whether it be built in a papakainga, a marae, whether it be Kohanga reo, church or behind your homes. We are aiming to be able to feed the community, teach the community to feed themselves and then empower them to teach each other."

Kelly Marie started whenua warrior, a social enterprise that is helping families to be self-sufficient and practise food sovereignty.

“If we were all to learn how to grow our own food and give it the time to be able to grow and teach people how to grow then that would change the way the food systems works in NZ for the positive, it would also encourage our people how to use the land correctly.”

In September, Whenua Warrior helped plant 127 gardens for families in Māngere over two days. The gardens, such as this one here at Ihumātao, are to feed the families but also to sow knowledge.

“What we're actually finding because our people are so knowledge poor and time poor it's actually the basics that we're starting off with so its how to source seed for free, how to sow the seed, how to bring the seed to life and keep it alive long enough to put in the ground and create kai from.”

All gardens were built on the generosity and donations for communities and local businesses.

“What we're trying to do create an attitude and an atmosphere where people are comfortable gardening. You don't have to report back there's no KPI's there are no proposals that need to be done there's literally you the land and what you do with it will either feed your family and you'll get mana from it or it won’t.”

Whenua Warrior has just received funding from Te Puni Kōkiri to plant five more community gardens in Auckland. Kelly Marie is calling all earth warriors to get stuck in.