"What is an Ooooby Store?" I hear you ask. Well the vision is growing and evolving day by day, but let me attempt to paint it for you.
Imagine a place where you feel welcome and also at home because you have a sense of ownership of this space and drop in on a whim, to grab a cup of tea and see who is around and what conversations are being had.
Imagine being able to choose from a selection of seating places dotted about the gardens. More seats and tables are clustered in the shade of the large Willow tree, where the diverse classes and workshops take place with delightful regularity. Speaking of learning, we had the pleasure of having Finn Mackesie and Daniel Nepia over on the island this week and we spent some time looking at the Ooooby Store site through various permaculture lenses, to see what could be done with this space. While on the island, Finn agreed to support us by helping to offer a modular Permaculture design course here on Waiheke, at the Store.
Imagine a back yard nursery business, converted from landscape plants and ornamentals, to focus unashamedly on everything the home gardener might need, from seeds and seedlings, to books, courses, tools, supplies, and an abundance of good company. As my friend Grant Steven says "No one is as smart as all of us" and this social space will no doubt increase the knowledge pool. Grant will be coming for an Organiponico raised bed gardening workshop on 24th and 25th of January. We will build a sample bed that can be a shining example of how much we can harvest Out Of Our Own Back Yard, and have presentations of soil science and soil care information.
The store has as its primary focus, all the things we need, and need to learn about growing food, harvesting it, eating it, preserving it and exchanging it. There will be ample room for food exchange and seed exchange at the Ooooby Store, so I can imagine a healthy increase in both of those activities. It's already happening in places like the Seedling Swaps and the Seasonal Recipes groups on www.ooooby.org so imagine what we can do when people realize there is a physical location that supports it and is open 7 days a week.
Pete Russell and I spent a full day there today with others who have been working this garden centre business for several years. It was time for a stock take an information dump. Here's a one minute video from this morning.
The opening event is turning into quite a big event, with live music, food, kids activities, classes, presentations, and a big sale of ornamental and native bush plants - to make room for the food plants.
There is something about this time of the annual cycle, which draws forth reflection and often manifests in affirmations, and some hopes and visions for the next four seasons. My reflections began in the lead up to the Eco Show in October. The show was the anniversary of the Transition Towns workshops when I offered to assist and support, in whatever ways I could, the growth in numbers of towns embracing the Transition model.
I am choosing to focus my energy closer to home, for a while.
A very local focus came in the form of two Bantam hens which arrived at dusk on new years day - thanks Steve. I was woken at five am to their squawking, and was soon running naked through the garden and into the chook run to recover "Whitey" who, in her alarm at being stalked by the cats, had got herself caught in between two layers of the chicken run cover (free bird netting from the local vineyards). I spent a few hours securing that before going off to day one at the Ooooby Store on Putiki Rd.
The next level of local focus is preparing the first Ooooby Store for its opening in a weeks time (Saturday 10th January). After a week or two, we see a manager in place, running the store. The focus for Pete and I will then become the support of Ooooby Stores all over the country.
I am excited at the possibilities for 2009. I can imagine looking back in a year and celebrating this as the year New Zealanders embraced the challenge at the grass roots, assisted by frameworks like Transition Towns, and made a massive swing towards relocalising and designing and building resilience into our communities.