An idea that was seeded in July this year
in Matiatia and sprouted last Tuesday at
the Oneroa cinema is now branching out

Puns almost aside, the new website for
food growers is growing wildly.

Looking like a Facebook-type site for
gardeners, Ooooby is an acronym for
Out Of Our Own Backyards and it is
the brainchild of Pete Russell, a recent
arrival to the island from Australia
whose partner Katherine came up with
the acronym.

The website,, is specifically
for food growers from beginners
to permaculture gurus. Whether you are
growing one lettuce or a food forest you
can join the social site to discuss, learn,
swap or help others with growing fruit
and vegetables.

Pinup shots of individual patches are
encouraged and video clips of gardens
and their keepers are there to support
other budding gardeners.

Ooooby’s history starts back in
1990 with Pete’s mother Karen who
launched a quarterly publication called
the National Barter Directory of Goods
& Services. The directory was a book
which listed businesses and goods and
services that people were willing to
barter with each other.

“It was good because it enabled flexible
trading between different communities.
As the recession lifted, everyone
went back to cash, so the directory
folded in 1993.”

It was enough to spur Pete’s social
consciousness. With a background in
food distribution he is fully aware of the
global centralised system which
he says is dependent on the current
monetary economy.

So it’s eat local, think global?
“Food growing is a priority.
Ooooby is a platform that
connects people through food
growing. This is a local network
between food growers and is connecting
people together through
a common theme”

“Together as a community we
are very capable of looking after
ourselves, the only thing that is
missing is communication, and
not from television. We have so
much wealth (of food and gardening
knowledge) that can be traded and

Since its launch on Tuesday night,
27 members joined in two days, and
on Facebook the Ooooby group has
76 members.

“I cannot see a limit on the micro scale.
In terms of what it can provide for people
it is not limited by technology.
“As a social enterprise it’s not profit
making, my job is to start it up, but
there are big plans for it.”

The Ooooby brand is intended to be
owned by the members. Pete is expecting
people to photograph the name Ooooby
in all sorts of ways that illustrate a communal

“I can see people sending in photos
wearing t-shirts they’ve printed with the
name. It’s a flexible and free people’s
brand – it’s just a word, an acronym.” •

Minka Firth

Here is a 3mb PDF of the article

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