Being able to pop down to the local roadside market or, more lately, the weekly farmers market for fresh, locally grown vegetables is something that an increasing number of people value.
Wellingtonians returning to the capital often stock up around Levin and look for locally, Horowhenua-grown produce in supermarkets and at weekly farmers markets. For people living in the Horowhenua, a trip to one of the local market gardens is a weekly must.
All this is at threat, however, thanks to the unworkable planning and environment regulations that are contained in Horizons Regional Council’s One Plan, which are putting approximately 60 commercial vegetable growers in and around Levin at risk.
This threat comes at a time of increased awareness of the importance of fresh vegetables to health and wellbeing. There is also increased awareness of the need for an isolated country like New Zealand to be able to feed itself.
In addition, it makes sense to be able to grow fresh vegetables close to the major cities from the points of view of supply surety, and reduced transport costs and associated environmental impacts – to say nothing of freshness.
The other challenge facing vegetable growers in New Zealand is expansion of our major cities onto productive land that is ideal for vegetables. For example, the spread of Auckland south to the irreplaceable, rich, fresh loam of Pukekohe is already underway.
Without Levin, where will Wellington’s not so fresh vegetables come from – overseas? And if so, how much more expensive will they be, will they be grown to the same environmental standards, and what about the environmental cost of transport?