Our project invites you to dream big about the potential of our spaces to support all living systems to thrive, including pollinators, soil biology and humans. What better way to regenerate our commons at scale than by transforming our large inner city Parks?
Our project Regenerative Parks – Living Playgrounds will offer a means to turn our inner city parks into Spray Free, Biological Pollinator Sanctuaries and Boosted Carbon Sinks by the end of 2018.
Our plan is to make this transformation a large scale learning opportunity for everyone, so we may all come to understand how to regenerate any space, including our own backyards.
What is a Regenerative Park?
Regenerative systems return what is lost and increase biodiversity now and into the future.
We don’t just want to conserve soil and conserve life, but build and enhance it. Instead of only treading lightly, we pile on love and care to produce glowing health and abundance. We help nature help itself, by laying down the groundwork for biodiversity and biological resilience. In this way, our parks can be fully activated to nurture native species, capture carbon and facilitate collective learning.
We have come up with four criteria that make a Regenerative Park:
- Be spray free in its vegetation control
- Be a Biological Pollinator Sanctuary
- Be a Boosted Carbon Sink
- Generate its own fertility on site through onsite composting. When necessary, local material may be used to supplement.
We invite you to achieve one or all of these with the space you have!
We help nature help itself, by laying down the groundwork for biodiversity and biological resilience
We're talking about a holistic approach that supports all biological life within the system, including soil biology, pollinators, mammals, and aquatic life - which residual runoff eventually finds. Living soil supports the entire ecosystem and begins to sequester carbon, which is what we must do urgently. By using this integrated system, you ensure that every action you take within the system is positive for biology. When you take this approach and eliminate any negative actions, you create the capacity for that ecosystem to fully restore itself within 7 years. Each time a negative is introduced to the environment you stall that potential.
Meeting these criteria will lay the groundwork for increased biodiversity as organisms will encounter safer spaces, and increased habitat and food opportunities.
Of course, our definition of a Regenerative Park and the strategies involved in making one may well change as we discover what works and what doesn’t, and as new collaborators share new ideas and wisdom. Perhaps you are one such collaborator? We encourage you to email us.
Expanding on these criteria:
- Spray Free: This means no synthetic chemicals are used at any time, which often have detrimental effects on microbiology and ecosystems. Even certified organic applications will be minimised, as some have been found to be damaging to soil microbiology and pollinators.
- Biological Pollinator Sanctuary: As we know, bees know no boundaries. To make a city safe for them, we need a citywide approach that crucially includes parks. Why focus on catering to pollinators? While our name 'For the Love of Bees' may seem like we're picking favourites, it actually makes sense to hone in on them. This is because in making a sanctuary for pollinators, one must look to cultivating soil life that allows plants to build natural strength. This, along with a number of other necessary actions, creates conditions conducive to other beneficial insect populations, which will then feed the birds. It's a domino effect. Regenerative Parks will have plenty of diverse food sources for pollinators and varied habitat spaces (in places that won't be disturbed) to suit the varying bee and pollinator species we have. These parks, in taking pollinator conservation seriously, will make pollinator food inventories every season and have public facing educational signage. Info cards next to pollinator food plantings will educate park goers on what to plant each season at home. In this way, Regenerative Parks will function as exemplars on how to shape ones own space to foster biodiversity.
- Boosted Carbon Sinks: By planting alongside pathways and fence lines with certain deep rooted plants, and by treating the grass differently we can increase the carbon sequestration capacity of our Parks. We are currently compiling information on this.
- Generating own fertility: A regenerative system restores, renews or revitalises its own sources of energy and materials. We can make mineral rich compost from material onsite to continuously build rich soil and support soil life. Ways to do this is with a hot compost heap, Bokashi and worm farms. Composting in public spaces will also teach communities and help establish a new norm of prizing our green material and our soil. Additional green waste could be put to use with the help of ShareWaste.com
Regenerative Parks will function as exemplars on how to shape ones own space to foster biodiversity
- Mechanical weed control (including Pull Together)
- Thermal weed control – Hot Grass and Hot water and/or steam
- Weed assessments – redefining weeds and creating strategies for different types (creating a knowledge base)
- Mulching and strategic planting
- Pollinator Paths and Pasture Painting tools
- Signage for learning and engagement
- Community adventures that invite and enable participation
What our role is
- Collaborating with academic experts and businesses testing new generation technologies in the organic weed management field and getting their knowledge in front of city decision makers and the public.
- Increasing awareness on alternative weed management strategies
- Setting up testing sites to become places of free experimentation and playful open learning.
- Designing and facilitating meetings and community engagement workshops or what we call “learning adventures”, which allow new networks to form and excitement at what is possible to flourish.
- Helping to develop a sense of ownership in local communities that can champion these spaces and assist with upkeep
- Connecting different providers and stakeholders together under the umbrealla of Biology-First thinking, using the pollinator as our focus
Our collaborators include
- Charles Merfield from The BHU Future Farming Centre in Canterbury, who has a broad ecological and agronomic research background, with specialist knowledge in weed management
- Kazel Cass, tutor of Organic Horticulture and NZ's resident RootWave Pro electrothermal weeder expert, distributed by HotGrass.
- Jeremy Winer. who founded Weedtechnics in Australia, where councils have used their technologies for the last 10 years
- Sebastian Kramer, who started Weedtechnics NZ Ltd which is the New Zealand Distribution arm of Weedtechics.
- Daniel Shuurman from Biologix
- The Compost Collective
Highwic in Newmarket is on its way to becoming the first inner-city Regenerative Park. Testing of HotGrass technology is already underway here, and council members have been able to watch a Weedtechnics demonstration. See more about the other amazing things happening there as part of our collaboration here
AUT Northern Campus
AUT is committed to sustainability, with their Sustainability Action Plan to be released later this year. Their Design for Sustainability (DESN702) class, led by Amabel Hunting, collaborated with us last year to explore how the city campus could become friendlier for bees, which raised the conversation around how AUT could become spray-free. Estates management at the North Shore campus are taking action with a scientific research project on alternative methods for weed management, which would collect useful data to support investment decisions.
Herne Bay Playcentre
Herne Bay Playcentre have registered their interest to make use of our collaborators machines as soon as they become available and to regenerate their commons by becoming a Biological Pollinator Sanctuary.
There are approx 4000 parks in Auckland city alone. There are 2530 schools in New Zealand. Imagine how many landscapes we could repair by holding hands together across our great nation.
Why entertain such an ambitious project and come on this adventure with us?
Climate change is here now and requires bold action, pollinators and other insects are under threat now, evolved resistance to chemical interventions is growing, and communities are increasingly requesting council to stop using harmful chemicals in our common spaces. Our artwork will create an action plan and a story to empower the whole community and create a sense that we are capable of responding to these large and overwhelming issues in our own backyards. By aiming for a transformation that is not far off into the future, we can excite people to see the potential of collaborative action to generate the changes we need to see now.