OMG (Organic Market Garden) Urban Farm

Name of case study

OMG (Organic Market Garden) Urban Farm

Location of case study

Auckland, New Zealand

Year

2018

Scale

Single site

Area / size

450m2 (350m2 productive space)

NbS employed

Companion planting

Type of NbS

Created or constructed living ecosystems

Atua Realms

 Earth / Plants both wild and cultivated

Initiator

For the love of Bees, a not-for-profit trust that teaches and models regenerative agriculture.

Funder

Various, including Local council (Auckland Council) and related organisations.

Budget

$30,000 initial setup cost

Design group

N/A

Figure Caption: OMG, Summer 2023 (ASK PERMISSION FTLOB)
Figure caption: OMG in 2022 showing diverse companion planting, and trellises for emerging climbing crops. Photo by Francis Maslin-Ross
Climate change benefits
  • Indirect health, social, cultural climate change impacts
  • Loss of food production
  • Loss of other ecosystem services
  • Urban heat island effect
Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Biodiversity health and conservation
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Food security and quality
  • Human physical health and wellbeing
Ecological benefits
  • Aesthetic value / artistic inspiration
  • Decomposition
  • Education and knowledge
  • Food production (for humans)
  • Habitat provision
  • Relaxation and psychological wellbeing
  • Soil building

Summary of case study

How does it work, what were the issues, what was the outcome?

OMG (Organic Market Garden) is an urban farm, on the edge of the CBD in Auckland, New Zealand. The farm was established in 2018 on an old parking lot, with rubble being removed and the ground remediated before the installation of productive garden beds (Yawynne Yem, n.d.). Now the garden provides 30+ households with a regular supply of vegetables via a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) scheme (OMG – Organic Market Garden, n.d.). The farm integrates diverse companion plantings including annual vegetables and herbs, perennials, and some small fruiting trees.

How has this enabled adaptation to climate change?

By demonstrating a sustainable and commercially viable format of farming in an urban environment, OMG is a model for local, urban agriculture in Te Moananui Oceania. Without the need for industrial fertilisers or other inorganic inputs because of regenerative practices like companion planting, and with low transport costs since customers collect their food directly from the farm. The emissions related to food production is a global problem (Shabir et al., 2023), and urbanisation and reliance of imported foods a growing issue in Te Moananui Oceania (Fotsing et al., 2023). If food production in urban settings demonstrated “climate change infrastructure that is resilient and healthy for cities and their communities” (Yawynne Yem, n.d.).

Are there mitigation to CC benefits as well?

Permeable areas and green spaces – especially ones with large amounts of vegetation can help mitigate the effects of climate change in urban areas, such as the urban heat island effect (Rizwan et al., 2008). Additionally, resilient, local food production occurring in urban areas has the potential to mitigate the threat of loss of food production caused by climate change (Griffiths et al., 2023).

How has this benefited local people? 

Local people who live near OMG now have a way to access, local, organic produce in a way that is rarely possible in urban areas. OMG also relies on some volunteer labour, with volunteers often returning for the health and wellbeing benefits of gardening, and skill-building opportunities offered through learning by doing (Clarke, 2022).

How does this interact with Indigenous Knowledge?

OMG does not have direct interactions with Indigenous knowledge. The farm is on previously developed (brownfield) urban land, within the rohe (traditional boundaries/territory) of numerous iwi (tribes) (Including Ngāi Tai, Ngāti Tamaoho, Te Ahiwaru – Waiohua, Te Patukirikiri, Ngāti Pāoa, Te Ākitai Waiohua, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua, Te Kawerau a Maki, Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Te Ata, Ngāti Maru, and Waikato). The practice of organic, regenerative agriculture that takes place at OMG, and the farm’s recognition and teaching about reciprocal ecosystem health are aligned with te ao Māori (the Māori worldview) concepts of kaitiakitanga, acknowledging a reciprocal relationship with the natural world.

How has this benefited local ecosystems or biodiversity health?

One of the key outcomes for the parent organisation of OMG, For the Love of Bees is to create and environment that is safe for Bees. OMG provides a pesticide-free, diverse planting in a dense urban environment (Clarke, 2022). Plantings like OMG are important safe havens for numerous species, including pollinating insects. OMG also recognises and teaches the importance of soil health for enabling ecosystem health and biodiversity (Urban Farm in Auckland’s Heart Connecting Locals with Their Food, 2023).

What is the value case?

OMG had an initial setup cost of $30,000 in 2018. In 2022 lead farmer Jake Clarke reported over 4,000kgs of produce harvested annually (Urban Farm in Auckland’s Heart Connecting Locals with Their Food, 2023), and in summer of 2023 the farm is supporting 45 housholds with a weekly vegetable box. After some concern1 about the ongoing viability of the project in 2022, the farm is now financially sustainable (Jake Clarke, personal Communication, December 2023).

1. We spoke with Jake Clark (Head farmer at OMG, personal communication, December 2023) about the funding circumstances of FTLOB and OMG. Jake described the difficulties of relying on corporate funding, the implication this has for projects like OMG, and the fundraising campaign FTLOB was running at that time to support the project after the loss of a major funding source. Jake has since confirmed that OMG is again sustainable in its funding sources.

Figure caption: OMG in 2022 showing diverse companion planting, including perennial artichokes. Photo by Oliver Brockie
OMG in 2022 showing tree crops of babaco and avocado planting in between garden beds, with apartments in the background. Photo by Oliver Brockie
References
  • Clarke, J. (2022, April 12). In conversation with Jake Clarke of OMG. Lagom. https://www.thisislagom.com/conversations/in-conversation-with-jake-clarke-of-omg/
  • Fotsing, J.-M., Mweleul, A., Rogers-Nilwo, F., Le Roux, P.-Y., Wattelez, G., & Galy, O. (2023). Urban agriculture, traditional food and health in Melanesia, a multidisciplinary approach in Port Vila, Vanuatu. In P. Brown & N. Gaertner-Mazouni (Eds.), Small Islands, Big Issues: Pacific Perspectives on the Ecosystem of Knowledge (1st ed., pp. 61–84). Peter Lang Ltd. International Academic Publishers.
  • Griffiths, P., Rousham, E., Goudet, S., Blankenship, J., Murira, Z., Schumacher, B., & Haycraft, E. (2023). A conceptual framework of urban food security and nutrition in low‐ and middle‐income country settings applied to the Asia‐Pacific region. Maternal & Child Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.13560
  • OMG – Organic market garden. (n.d.). For the Love of Bees. Retrieved February 1, 2024, from https://www.fortheloveofbees.co.nz/omg
  • Rizwan, A. M., Dennis, L. Y. C., & Liu, C. (2008). A review on the generation, determination, and mitigation of urban heat island. Journal of Environmental Sciences, 20(1), 120–128. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1001-0742(08)60019-4
  • Shabir, I., Dash, K. K., Dar, A. H., Pandey, V. K., Fayaz, U., Srivastava, S., & R, N. (2023). Carbon footprints evaluation for sustainable food processing system development: A comprehensive review. Future Foods, 7, 100215. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fufo.2023.100215
  • Urban farm in Auckland’s heart connecting locals with their food. (2023, July 8). 1 News. https://www.1news.co.nz/2023/06/08/urban-farm-in-aucklands-heart-connecting-locals-with-their-food/Yawynne Yem. (n.d.). Anything is possible in the big city — even turning a car park into a market garden. ThisNZlife. Retrieved February 1, 2024, from https://thisnzlife.co.nz/anything-is-possible-in-the-big-city-even-turning-a-carpark-into-a-market-garden/

Further resources

https://www.instagram.com/omg_akl/?hl=en

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