A brilliant and inspiring message from the other side of the world!
(With thanks to Sarah Smut-Kennedy for allowing me to use material from her website)
Just three years ago Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, an artist from New Zealand, created an artwork - a social sculpture - which she called ‘For the Love of Bees’.
Her work simply invited people to imagine Auckland as the safest city in the world for bees and all pollinators.
Unsurprisingly such a tantalising vision quickly sprouted wings and ignited the minds of kiwis around the country!
Now the model offers opportunities for businesses, students, individuals, schools, community gardens, scientists, brand partners and beekeepers to collaborate and sow the seeds of a thriving future.
What an amazing idea - using bees as the magnet for ecosystem thinking, “because people are much more open to thinking about bees than they are, say, soil biology,” she explains.
The ‘Projects’ tab on the website now lists 14 very different practical ways in which ‘For the Love of Bees‘ has spread out into the very being and life of Auckland.
These are all wonderful initiatives and all worthy of replicating throughout the world. I truly hope that that will happen, for doing so can only create a better world for our children.
By considering just one of the listed examples - OMG - you begin to sense the scope and importance of the idea.
Its name, ‘Organic Market Garden’, belies its all-inclusive nature. Here’s how Sarah describes OMG: “as climate change-ready infrastructure” This is on account of 10 values it adheres to, including carbon sequestration, biodiversity, air filtration, water retention, turning food scraps into a carbon resource through composting (it is noteworthy that the garden takes all of a local cafe’s waste), and heat sinks.
A small plot of land was obtained in October 2018, with an agreement to occupy it for just one year (but with the hope of staying longer). Here, and with a growing community of dedicated friends, OMG focus on the possibilities of 'urban farming' - regenerative organic urban farming practice – the idea of taking a site of soil and bringing its life force back to it.
Levi Brinsdon-Hall, artist and site manager says “In a very short space of time we’ve transformed what was a meadow full of rocks and rubble and grass. There were, like, 10 different species that existed on this plot, and now there are over 100,”
Sarah’s desire is to have an OMG every one kilometre throughout the city. “Then you’re starting to change the climate of the city.”
The aim is for OMG to also be a teaching hub. “One of the things that would enable this to roll out across the city is human capital, literally the knowledge of how to do it,” says Smuts-Kennedy. “How many people in Auckland at the moment know how to run a farm like this? Who is going to help us get the funding to train 25 people in the next year so that we can have 25 farms and then create a system where those 25 people are training 10 people each over the next 12 months?” she asks.
“The average age of a farmer in the world at the moment is 65 years and the access to land is out of reach of most of our young people who want to be farmers,” she says. “We could actually provide a pathway to employment in the cities where we live, because we want them to be growing us safe food today, tomorrow and in 20 years’ time”.
“Within three years we could have this totally handled, but it’s going to take a vision and it needs to be a cohesive vision. We know that there are 100 community gardens in Auckland – how could they as quickly as possible become climate change-ready infrastructure, and then what are the other sites that could be accessed to have one every one kilometre?”
Please listen, below, to this 10 minute sound clip, taken from an interview with Wellington Access Radio (full programme here) which captures the enthusiasm and optimistic message that ‘For the Love of Bees’ is bringing to New Zealand simply by imaging a town or city to be the safest city in the world for bees and all pollinators.