Ben Elms, known as Dr Compost, at the Hawea Flat ''food
forest'' that has helped spark a new Otago Polytechnic
course. Phot by Mark Price.
The Otago Polytechnic is about to launch what is believed
to be New Zealand's first academic course in designing ''food
Course instructor James Samuel, of Waiheke Island, told the
Otago Daily Times yesterday the polytechnic move was a
sign food forests were becoming part of the mainstream.
''This is the leading edge. This is about to really explode,
and it makes really good sense.''
Food forests contain a mix of plant species, grown
organically, and Mr Samuel said one of the ways they differed
from traditional agriculture was in their concentration on
perennials, rather than annuals.
''The principle is more perennial plants stacked into
multiple layers,'' Mr Samuel said.
''With that sort of principle, there is a lot of productivity
you can have off a piece of land while drastically reducing
dependence on fossil fuel inputs.''
The course will be led by Mr Samuel and by Jon Foote, of
Otago Polytechnic regional manager Jean Tilleyshort said its
involvement was sparked by the interest generated by a new
food forest started by members of the Hawea Flat community
late last year.
''It's certainly a movement that's really taking off in
Ms Tilleyshort said the course was being run through the
polytechnic's centre for sustainable practice in Wanaka and
those who took the 19-week course could achieve a level 5
certificate in sustainable practice.
''The people who do the programme will get a certificate in
sustainable practice but they will be focusing on food
Co-ordinator of the Hawea Flat food forest Ben Elms said he
expected part of the polytechnic course would incorporate
work at the forest.
Mr Elms said the forest was still at ''ground zero'' and a
scattering of fruit trees and shrubs was just beginning to
become established. He believed with continued community
support, the small food forest could spread across several
hectares, providing food for the community.
The polytechnic course begins in February and will cater for
10 North Island and 10 South Island students, at a cost of
$3500 per student.