Paddock to Plate - New Market Food Tracker

30 November 2009

A food tracking process developed by Onslow College students has enabled some Harbourside Market stallholders to identify the exact point their produce was grown.

Fruit and vegetable stallholders at the market can now tell customers exactly which paddock or tree their produce was grown in.

Social studies students from Onslow College have worked with PricewaterhouseCooper's climate change consultant on a six-week project mapping the food chain for eight market fruit and vegetable stallholders.

The aim is to highlight how and where food is grown, how it reaches the kitchen table and how waste can be reduced. Ultimately the students will develop a sustainability report for stallholders and recommend practical ways they can reduce food waste.

The project, which started in November, has already had an impact, with stallholders using Te Papa's compost bins to send waste from fruit and vegetables to Wellington City Council's Kai to Compost scheme, which takes the waste to the Wellington Southern Landfill in Happy Valley.

The students are also helping the market reach its goal of becoming a plastic-bag-free-zone. At the students' suggestion, from 13 December fruit and vegetable stallholders will introduce baskets (sponsored by the Wellington Regional Council environmental team) for customers to load with their fruit and vegetables.

"We're all becoming far more conscious about the benefits of buying local to cut down on food miles, and this food tracker helps us have more confidence about buying local," says Wellington Waterfront Limited Chief Executive Ian Pike.

"This is a great example of how Wellington Waterfront, Wellington City Council and Wellington Regional Council are working together to facilitate the growth of a sustainable food market."

Onslow College teacher Sandra Gillies says this project has been a fantastic opportunity for students to have a positive impact in the community.

"The students' reports suggest ways for market stallholders to reduce plastic and packaging, manage waste disposal and promote locally grown and sourced products with lower food miles," she says.

"It has also made us think about how making a simple change like composting food waste or choosing local produce is positive for the planet."