Join us and help save New Zealand's Heritage Food Plants
Over the past 30 years Koanga Institute has been instrumental in collecting and saving over 700 heritage vegetable seed lines and over 300 Northern heritage fruit tree lines and we could not have done it without our members! Our nationally important collections are built on the foundation of hundreds of generations of growers who have nurtured biodiversity and cultural heritage. We not only collected the plant material and the seeds, but also the stories and whakapapa of our food plants and the old people who carried them to today. Growing out these food plants makes them available to both our members and the general public. The beautiful diversity that we see in our heritage collection – in the flavours, shapes and colours, is a glimpse of the past varieties of all the vegetables.
Keeping the whole collection of these incredibly important New Zealand heirlooms alive and available for the people of New Zealand is a complicated and expensive process and we receive no government funding. We are one of the only organisations in New Zealand who grow out our seeds locally (mostly in the sunny Hawke’s Bay), so they are adapted to NZ soils and climates. These seeds are then selected for the qualities home gardeners are looking for, like a long cropping season, great taste, nutrient density and many other qualities that commercial seeds are not selected for. In order to be able to maintain a garden crew capable of continuing to save this collection of organic, heritage seeds and trees so you can enjoy them now and in the future we need to significantly increase our membership base and are aiming for 5000 members.
As a charitable trust our mission is to maintain our collection for the benefit of all New Zealanders. We believe that there is strength in diversity and recognise that for Koanga Institute to be strong we need people from all walks of life to feel a connection with our kaupapa and with the collections that we hold. In line with this spirit of inclusiveness and as part of our drive to increase membership we have introduced an assisted membership so that people who are financially secure can buy an extra membership that will be gifted to someone who cannot afford a membership at this time.
Our starting point is around 900 members which is just under 1/5th of what we require. We have changed our membership system so that membership payments are now legal donations. Our ability to continue to save the seeds depends upon us maintaining a garden crew and that rests on our membership numbers. At 5000 members we can maintain a garden crew of four, the three isolation gardens, plus the heritage fruit tree collection.
If you agree with us that saving New Zealand’s heritage food plants is an essential part of building a better, regenerative future and if you value the wealth of experience and knowledge that Koanga holds and makes available through it’s website, publications and courses then the best way that you can support us is by becoming a member and, if you can afford it, by supporting someone less financially secure to join.
The main reason to become a member is to become a part of supporting the kaupapa of Koanga to build a regenerative future but membership does confer some benefits including being able to purchase plants and seeds that are only available to members.