I first met Fiona Stewart when she and her business partner Bailey Perryman approached me with their idea for an inner city farm situated on a lot left vacant by earthquake demolition. Since then, their successes in the central city have led to a second suburban site in Halswell, where I met Fi at the end of her work day. She offered me a carrot, then pretended to use it as a microphone. She took a bite, ‘we might need a new microphone halfway through this interview.’
Jade Temepara’s Kakanō Cafe is a modern initiative that is novel because it celebrates a return to the methods of the past.She is teaching skills that have been forgotten and re-planting seeds that have been lost.The cafe includes a seed to plate garden with heritage produce and an on site cookery school with workshops, classes, and speaker events.In my former job with Life in Vacant Spaces I was involved during the cafe’s set-up and I saw the excitement build around the space.The homeless men that hung out at Pete’s Landing across the street helped her build the garden beds.“They think it’s their pad,” she says.The librarians at the National Archive next door gave her their files and research of heritage produce and Maori food preparation.Everyone got involved – backpackers, neighbourhood residents, Jade’s family members.Here she tells me about her family, her ideas about New Zealand cuisine, and the future of Kakanō.
Jade Temepara is no stranger to getting things done.Her initiative Hand Over A Hundy gave families resources and mentoring to start home gardens.She told me about a corporate office that approached her and wanted to create a garden of their own.They had set up a committee and began scheduling a series of meetings to discuss their plans.When they told Jade that they might be able to start on the ground in a year, she excused herself and left.“I need to go start a garden right now, on my way home.”Her current space on Peterborough Street took more than an afternoon to set up, but I watched her team transform a vacant rubble lot into Kakanō Cafe and Cookery School within mere months.Here she talks about indigenous cuisine, the importance of food in community, and Kakanõ Cafe and Cookery School.