Kaiapoi Food Forest … Growing Food – Growing Community – Growing for the Future



Corner of Cass, Meadow Streets and Oram place, opposite St Bartholmews Church. Easy access off the northern motorway  take exit/highway 71. At the bottom of the page we have a map to make it easier for you.

Become a fan of the Food Forest and hear what’s happening first

What do you expect to see at the food forest

A park filled with food…over 40 types of apple, pears, nectarines, strawberries, raspberries, veges and herbs, over 2100 trees and plants have been donated by local residents and businesses … plus –

  • Small playhouse is on site… children love this wee house Thank you Bunnings
  • Each Wednesday from 4pm we have volunteer time.. we welcome anyone that wants to come and ask questions, pull weeds or plant trees and plants and learn how to grow food sustainably.
  • Fruit and Vege stand has been installed by Broadhurst builders… Surplus fruit and veges are placed in this for others to use. Each Wednesday we have a FREE delivery of bread & Buns and other food stuffs – anyone can come and collect the free food.
  • Curved seat has been installed that has a solar panel to charge your phone,
  • A Rongoa area has started to be planted, entrance Punga have been planted, pedestrian entrance ways are on Cass and Meadow Streets…
  • A circular seat has been installed, materials were funded by CBK Kaiapoi.
  • A wheelchair friendly BBQ table has been installed, Al Blackie Regeneration Chair provided funds for Kaiapoi High School to build it
  • A koru shaped seat is being installed around one of the original cherry trees. Thanks too Food Stuffs South Island and Bunnings Air Port Branch for donating the tiles.
  • John Rhind Funeral directors funded the building of berry obelisks.
  • Thanks to Moira Kemp from PIC for insuring the Food Forest ( call her for great insurance advice phn 022 0437533)

Our “Wish List”

For events we would like to buy a quality gazebo, currently we have to borrow one.

A BBQ onsite would be handy for visitors to cook their food one.

We need to plant the under stories, smaller trees, berries… as many plants as we possibly can, a wide variety to bring more people to the food forest.

A whiteboard for education classes.

We want to create more seating areas. We have our eyes on a large carved tree trunk seat, costing $3500. We want seating in the Rongoa area.

We have to install Pou at the entrance to the Rongoa area on Oram Place, we want to have carved and install a pataka.

Additional play equipment for children.

We want a toilet on site, along with a shed to store things in like implements.

A BBQ would be a great addition for people to have picnics

An area of shelter for people to picnic and for us to hold events and education workshops

Next Event:

Gardening Workshops – 18th September – 10.30 – 2pm

Celebrate with us and learn how to grow kumara, graft fruit trees, propagation, mushroom growing, edible weed foraging and understanding recycling.
We will have coffee cart and ice creams for sale as well as some plants.
There is no cost for workshops, however a koha to the workshop leader would be appreciated.
Re Fruit Tree Grafting – if you wish to graft your own tree and take it home, there will be a cost per tree of $15 per tree.
We are at alert level 2 and as such limited to have only 100 on site at any one time, please come with a mask, register with QR code at the gates, and use hand sanitiser please.

Its official…we have been named “NZ Gardeners of the Year”

Kaiapoi Food Forest Trust
In 2010 and 2011 Kaiapoi was a casualty of the Canterbury Earthquakes, prior to that the town was a recipient of the “NZ Most Beautiful Towns” multiple times. However after the earthquakes 20% of the residents homes and properties were unliveable.
The community had to decide what to do with all of the land which became available after the homes were demolished and the most popular option was to take some of the land and turn it into a Community Food Forest.
In 2017 a local husband and wife team Brent and & Shirley Cairns were tasked with designing and creating the Food Forest. They formed a Charitable Trust and created a vision of “Connect – Educate – Nourish and Inspire”
Early on in the project they connected with Warren Cook a local Corrections Department Supervisor and he organised for the department to do a great deal of the initial work in terms of moving over 500 cubic metres of mulch and planting of trees and plants and the department continue to help with the ongoing maintenance.
So the project would connect with the residents that were asked to leave their homes, the Trust arranged with Treetech a local company to move mature fruit trees from the surrounding cleared residential properties into the food forest, these trees were the legacy that were left behind after the families homes were demolished. These 17 fruit trees went from feeding a family to feeding a community.
Its been 10 years since the earthquakes and almost 3 years since the first tree was planted at the food forest. Over 2100 trees and plants have now been donated by local residents and businesses. Last season over 3000 kilos of food was foraged. The food forest now has a fruit and veg stand on site, which allows those people with surplus food to share it with others. Since October 2018 each Friday we collect a van load of yesterdays bread and buns and distribute that to around 40-50 families that visit the food forest at around 4pm. During the covid lockdown the Trust were delivering food boxes to between 70 and 95 families each week.
Educational programs have been developed to show people how easy it is to grow food sustainably. The Trust have worked with local businesses like Sporeshift mushrooms, Ken Batchelor a local horticulturist, Sonia Barrish, Kath Irvine (to name just a few) to provide a variety of workshops, ie. mushroom growing, propagation, water conservation, edible weeds, pruning workshops etc etc. The Trust have recently been asked to be part of the Australasian Childrens University (https://www.lincoln.ac.nz/About-Lincoln/childrens-university/)
The trust provides schools and groups with tours, showing how to grow food sustainably, reducing the amount of water to grow food, growing food in layers replicating a forest and without the use of pesticides and herbicides.
The trust also holds many events like Wellbeing Festivals and Strawberry Fairs and these have been Zero waste. An initiative developed with the assistance of Lesley Ottey from EcoEducate a local business that educates schools and districts on reducing waste. Kaiapoi High School students have also assisted with this initiative.
Natalie Leary with the assistance of the local Runanga the trust have set aside a portion of the food forest as a Rongoa area (traditional medicinal plants and trees) the idea is in the future to provide educational programs.
The food forest has become a very popular place to visit, where families and friends can picnic as well as wander around and forage for food. There is still much to do, there is still more plants and trees to be planted to fill the food forest, but replicating nature and growing the food forest takes time. We have found the Growing Food – Grows Community and that’s evident by the large number of donations of plants and the number of people that volunteer to help each Wednesday after 4pm.
We believe the Kaiapoi Food Forest Trust have shown to have worked in partnership with multiple organisations and have achieved exceptional results within the environmental, gardening and educational sector.
Google Reviews: A snapshot of some of the reviews we have received
“Lovely food forest. Well being day today when we visited with great stalls and demonstrations. Had a back massage for a good coin donation and got some nice perfumed candles. Lots of kids running around having fun. Will call in again, good work Kaiapoi.”
“Great place for a picnic and fun for the whole family. Lots of cool places to sit and check out what food is ready to be eaten!”
“Incredibly proud to bring visitors to the forest, both from Aotearoa and overseas. They are amazed as we wonder around and pick herbs for dinner and explore the environment.
As we were leaving one evening a young man gave me yogurt that had been donated to the pataka. Wow !
Evidence of a community committed to sustainability and kaitiakitanga. Thank you to all who make this space possible.”
“Community initiative for the community. A great resource for learning, sharing, events and food.”
“My class went to the Kaiapoi Food Forest for a trip. It was fun to learn about different plants and try and find different ones. We also got to plant some of the plants we grew in our class. It was fascinating to learn about the amazing areas and our heritage.”
“I absolutely loved the food forest there was so many things to learn and see.
I would definitely visit again.
If you were wondering it is open all day.
The guy who was the owner said you can eat some but not all.
I loved the Food Forest! It is a great place to go and relax or have a picnic. I also love how we can eat the food that is grown there.”
“An amazing place. You can try some of the food like the peppers and strawberries. Overall it’s just a really good place to learn about the things that plants need to grow.”
“I love this place there are so much things to do like learning about foods and trees. There are things that we learnt like what plants are eatable and not eatable. Its so fun there, its a great place to take your kids to learn about plants.”
“It was fun to learn about how different plants grow and what plants to eat and what plants not to eat.
We also got to plant some plants that we grew in our class that was very fun.
I liked looking at the plants and smelling them”
“The Food Forest is awesome. Me and my class went there yesterday and it was absolutely awesome. It’s a great place to learn about food and how it grows.”
“I defiantly recommend going to the food forest because there is a lot of plants and a lot to learn about them that you might learn at the food forest. [also the air is fresh] It defiantly has a lot of food that you can eat an that tastes good.”
Thank you

On the 16th September 2017 Kaiapoi Food Forest had its first Open Planting Day
Thanks to over 200 people and families came from as far as Ashburton, Christchurch, Rangiora and Kaiapoi planted over 300 trees, berries and plants, over 80 of those were donated on the day. Kaiapoi High School building department donated 2 BBQ tables so people can come and picnic. Thank you to Rev Sandy and volunteers from St Bartholmews church for providing tea and coffee and sausages.

The Kaiapoi food forest will be enduring through its values –
connect, nourish, educate and inspire.

Creating a food forest is an exercise in connecting people, increasing resilience and sustainability, reducing net migration, improving living quality, creating jobs, strengthening mental and physical health, up skilling youth, attracting tourists and generating profit for Kaiapoi and the Waimakariri District.

A community food forest provides an abundance of food for residents and those that wish to visit to gather – fruits, vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants by way of a layered permaculture companion planting system.

Imagine wandering through a flourishing forest where almost every plant is edible and all plants serve a purpose.

However we want more than that:

  • we want people to help maintain and learn how to grow plants and be inspired to take what they have learnt to create a food forest in their own backyard or in their community,
  • we want people to come connect with friends, family and picnic in the food forest,
  • we will hold food related events and want to help community groups to hold events in the food forest,
  • we want chefs and food nutritionists come and teach people how to cook the food grown in the food forest and
  • we want people to be inspired by artwork, creative landscaping and seating in this beautiful natural landscape.

The Kaiapoi food forest will be filled with many heritage fruit varieties that will provide a wide range of delectable fruit, higher levels of vitamin C and higher nutritional value.
The wide range of fruits and vegetables will encourage visitors to try something different to eat.

20% of New Zealanders are classified as food insecure, which means they are lacking access to safe, affordable, nutritional and culturally appropriate food. A social and community based food forest will allow better access to affordable food for a growing number of low income or no income families.

The Kaiapoi Food Forest Trust have joined a growing movement of food champions in the greater Canterbury community, where groups and local government, and district health sectors are aiming to bring actors together to address issues facing our food regions.

Food forest layer design principles are suitable to be replicated on small or large residential property sizes. The food forest will be the centre of learning to inspire people of all ages, how and what can be grown locally, how to reduce waste, use of plants and cooking classes, encourage food security and replicate design principles at a residential level.

The Food forest is designed to create its own micro climate, which makes for an ideal location to meet up with friends and family, ideal for picnics, ideal for events. The location of the food forest to Kaiapoi’s main street along with easy access off the motorway makes this food forest an ideal location to stop and visit by eco tourists.

Innovative creative seating and original art works placed throughout will make the food forest enduring, a destination to visit by residents and tourists. The beauty of “kai” in Kaiapoi’s name, makes it even more appealing.

Allow local businesses to have a positive impact and connect with a community legacy project by having employees volunteer for a day, donate produce, donate money, donate to a specific project like seating, artworks or events. Local schools and community groups can come maintain the food forest along with planting crops of their choice and of course gather food.

Community garden / food forest programmes can have significant mental health benefits for participating gardeners. There is a substantial body of evidence that shows that, when taken together, the essential components of a food forest program (growing plants, spending time with others in a safe and supportive environment, being active outdoors and bringing home healthy produce harvested from the garden) can contribute to positive mental health outcomes.

In nature, forests exist and thrive perfectly well as their own closed system. They don’t need the addition of extra fertilizer, the removal of weeds, the spraying of pesticides and so on to keep them flourishing – they evolve and adapt to incorporate change. Food forests do the same thing, meaning that the human effort required to maintain them is minimal.

Of course, permaculturists looking to initiate a food forest will need to put some time into planting and working with the land (such as mulching, compositing and so on) to ensure the best start to the forest, but once the food forest gets going, it requires very little maintenance. The systems of planting that go into a food forest perpetuate a self-sustaining system, meaning that, from a mature food forest, the permaculturists really only has to harvest!

Through the Food forest we want visitors to:

Connect –

  • The food forest will be a place for people to gather, forage and eat food,
    Volunteers working together will maintain the area,
    Sheltered areas will foster picnicking and great places for children to play,
    The food forest will be a tourist destination,
    We will grow food and medicinal plants traditionally foraged by Maori,
    Food related events will be developed i.e. harvest festivals and
    Community groups will be invited to hold events.

Nourish –

  • Food forest layers work in harmony to remove the need for harmful sprays,
  • Medicinal plants along with food will be grown,
  • Trees and plants many being heritage will be grown for taste and nutrition,
  • The food forest design and layout will nourish the mind, body and soul,
  • Food Forests bring birds into the urban area,
  • Will be beneficial to insects and bugs, i.e. bees,
  • Utilising multiple layers and making the most of both horizontal and vertical space,
  • Diverse variety of plantings grown and
  • Plantings will be chosen to provide a range of food on a 12 monthly basis.

Educate –

  • A learning centre will be developed for adults and children to learn,
  • Participate in the growing of plants without chemicals,
  • Provide a healthy and safe volunteer environment, i.e. completion of a hazard review before working in the food forest,
  • Website (http://kai.net.nz) and Facebook to share ideas,
  • Signage, website and labelling will educate about the plants
    Native and Heritage plantings will provide alternative food,
  • Traditional plants and trees to educate how Maori traditionally used these plants,
  • What to eat and how it can be prepared and
  • Cooking of food.

Inspire –

  • Artworks will be found scattered throughout the food forest,
  • Creative seating will be throughout,
  • Access to the food forest will be unlimited,
  • Food security and sharing of resources,
  • Great place to meet people, learn new skills and enjoy food,
  • Growing of Kaiapoi fruit salad trees,
  • The design requires less labour, no pesticides, no fertilisers, no digging,
  • The design will inspire visitors to grow food in a different way,
  • The design will off-set climate change,
  • Duplicate the design and concept,
  • Close knit and self reliant communities,
  • Layering allows more food produced in small area, with less intervention and cost,
  • The design will use less water and
  • The design works with mother nature.

An enduring food forest will be a valuable legacy for the entire Kaiapoi and the wider Waimakariri community.

One of our purposes is to have native plants and trees similar to what Maori would have foraged for food and medicines.

Maori traditional Medicine
Tī kōuka (Cordyline australis) was used to make a range of medicinal treatments:
• It was pounded into a paste.
• Growing tip (kōata) was eaten raw as a blood tonic or cleanser.
• Leaves provided juice used externally for cuts, cracks and sores.
• Infusions prepared by boiling leaves were drunk to treat diarrhoea.
• Leaves rubbed until soft were applied as an ointment to cuts, skin cracks and sore hands.
• Nursing mothers chewed the young shoots and gave them to their children for colic.
• Shoots were boiled and the liquid taken to treat stomach pains.
• Seeds have been shown to be high in linoleic acid — an essential fatty acid.

Medicinal plants
Medicines were made from plants, including:
• harakeke (flax)
• kawakawa
• rātā
• mānuka
• kōwhai.
Using harakeke (flax)
• Flax leaves or roots were made into pulp, heated and put on skin infections such as boils.
• The hard part of the leaf was used to splint a broken bone.
• A bad cut was sewn up with flax fibre (muka).
• Kawakawa leaves and bark were used for cuts and stomach pains.
• Kawakawa was used to make a steam bath. The leaves were placed on hot stones with water poured over. The patient sat on top.
• Ashes from burnt mānuka were rubbed on the scalp to cure dandruff.
• A tea made from the leaves was drunk for a fever.

Would you like to be part of the Kaiapoi Food Forest? Send us a message, to donate some time, some plants, some trees, some product, some money

To make a financial donation.

The Kaiapoi Food Forest Trust ANZ bank account number is 01-0853-0126828-00

Thank you

Trees and Plants in our Food Forest

A mature Food Forest is comprised of taller canopy trees, usually nuts and fruits, with a sub-canopy of berries and shrubs, followed by herbs and veggies below.
In New Zealand Food Forest consists of 5-7 Layers. More if you include marshes and mushrooms!

Food forest basic design idea

Continue reading “Trees and Plants in our Food Forest”


Now a days food is grown to suit supermarkets, it will last longer on the shelves, it can be picked all within a few days, it can survive being dropped 1 metre, it looks pretty, we don’t get export quality fruit, we get the rejects…NOTHING about taste.

Heritage fruit tastes great… we want to fill the Kaiapoi Food forest with heritage trees.

Food Forests are living proof that industrial agriculture is not the only way to feed the world. In fact, we now recognize conventional agricultural practices to be a major contributor towards climate change, environmental destruction and desertification.

The Waimakariri District Council is going to lease 1.5acres of land to the Kaiapoi Food Forest Trust to develop a food forest. Continue reading “ABOUT”


Fund raising

Fund raising Help Us Reach Our Fundraising Goals Early Bird Offers now available! By purchasing an Entertainment Membership with us, you’ll receive 25 to 50% off and 2-for-1 offers to many of the best restaurants, hotels and attractions. You can access $20,000 worth of great retail, travel and dining offers and deals – and at …

Fabulous Planting day – thank you to everyone who contributed

Thank you to all of the lovely people and businesses that made today’s planting day so special… people came from as far away as Oxford, Amberley, Rangiora and Waimate… CBK Craft Bar & Kitchen Kaiapoi for providing vouchers and putting together the loyalty program….everytime you visit CBK, if you can mention the food forest when …


What would you like to know about the food forest…

Would you like to help out, volunteer your time, donate plants or trees, offer a suggestion..

Thank you… will get back to you ASAP