Speech to the Oxford Ohoka Community Board Thursday Dec 7th 2017

Thank you for this opportunity to talk to you tonight.

I am here in my capacity as the organiser of the Ohoka Friday morning Farmers Market and as a representative of the hundreds of businesses that make up the Ohoka Farmers Market. I wish to express our support of the Draft Alternative Ohoka Domain Plan which  Greenspace Management  have also recommended be approved as opposed to the original Draft Domain Plan. 


We are also all grateful to Greenspace staff and council representatives for enabling this Alternate plan to be presented to you tonight. I believe the alternate plan  does not compromise any aspects of the first proposal and it better allows for the needs of farmers market in winter and wet weather. 

The Council has over the years recognised the significance of this market which has operated for 9 years every Friday all year from the Ohoka Domain and we believe that  this alternate plan goes a long way in confirming  to the hundreds of businesses who trade there that the market is a valued event to the region. 

Why is the alternate plan our preferred option? The alternate plan takes into account the configuration of the carpark over winter from which the market operates and it is this area that we are dependent upon in order to operate efficiently.

The adjustment to the existing carpark space initially presented in the first plan is extremely significant to us. The alternate plan with a slightly larger car park area will now allow for the market to operate during winter providing potential carparking space for customers outside of the market by enabling us to get stallholder cars into the market set up. For every one stallholder car over winter that we can accommodate inside the market means 10 customers can use that space outside the market for an average of 20 minutes each. This is hugely significant to the viability of the market over winter and for wet weather markets.

 We are also hopeful that the matting along the entrance to the domain will go some way to alleviate some of the concerns that were raised during the submission process regarding car parking and verges. I believe the local and wider community stand to benefit from the proposed plan; from the playground, gatehouse, native bush and market. 

Also as a result of the submission process some surprising feedback was made which I would like to briefly address in hope that I can shed some light on what I consider are grossly unfair misconceptions. 

The market is a private business as are the hundreds of other businesses that it is made up of.   But there is a very significant difference with these businesses and the normal that needs to be stressed.  Most if not all of them are social enterprises including the market itself.  Social enterprises are a way to combine a social element into the DNA of a business.  It is effectively a different model for businesses.  The business can still be viable financially but the objective is not about making money. The focus for the market and I can speak for many of the other businesses is to focus is on the purpose.  Social enterprises exist with the purpose of strengthening their communities from within, socially and environmentally.  

Profit and charity aren't two words usually associated with one another, but increasingly we are seeing this mixing of business with good intentions to create social change.   We consider we, and many of small food business that make up the market are doing just that. Plus we provide the opportunity for more good intentions to happen. 

The submission process good as it was showed us market people that we still have some work to do in getting this message across to some members of the wider community. 

So how do we do work at the social change?  Characteristic of all social enterprises us included, is the means to improve 3 things. Social wellbeing, environmental sustainability, and finally if able - economic performance. This forms the basis of what we do every Friday morning. The market does this  by encouraging and supporting and selecting food and craft artisans who are also purpose driven and share the same goals. The idea being that if we all work together we have more chance of creating some results compatible with the objective.  I like to think that part of the success of this market has been as a result of this.  We are fortunate that in the Waimakariri we have several councillors who also appear to have an appreciation of our objectives and appreciate the bigger picture at stake here.   Consequently our popularity has made us one of the top 4 best farmers markets in NZ. 

The  local social impact:  The businesses associated with the market are approx 80%  local ratepayers, from Waimakariri; Waikuku, Ohoka, Loburn, Sefton, Rangiora, Kaiapoi, from neighbouring Hurunui, Oxford, Selwyn, Christchurch, Banks Peninsula etc. The economic impact is as I have said is often secondary to a business whose primary objective is on the social enterprise itself. Not always an easy thing to achieve. 

So who are the hundreds of small businesses that attend the Friday market?   They are entrepreneurs. They have taken all the risk. It is them personally who has started up their small independent privately own business.  They are ordinary people who are also agents of change.  They seek self-governance and financial success is often not the primary motive behind their participation. Although sometimes they do find financial success and they go on to own a larger business and employ others. Funding, financial backing or philanthropy if any, is more likely to be sought from those who also share the same social objectives.  We, the market, incidentally have never asked for council financial assistance and don’t now. But we do seek your support.

By far I have found that the stallholder’s eagerness to contribute to their community is by far the most important motivation in their participation at the market.  The people who are behind these small businesses want to be part of this social enterprise, move into the area, buy property,  buy land, buy lifestyle blocks and diversify land use, buy machinery, set up commercial kitchens, pay food licences, pay rates, pay GST, buy hardware, build, buy from local business, supply conscientious restaurants and cafes seeking the local the seasonal, farm to plate mantra, thereby improving the eating experience of their own customers,  they export they employ locals and ultimately they pave the way for other similar businesses. They provide inspiration for future food and craft artisans. They enable other markets and events to work as you have to have viable stallholders to ensure their continued success. Ohoka is the first of the weekly food markets and some stallholders attend up to 6 markets a week.  They go on to do business at other markets during the weekends.  All the markets depend upon each other’s success for their own success. This is real social enterprise in action at a local level. And the risk is all theirs.

If anyone ever doubted the significance of the stallholder’s attendance every week then you would be ignoring the wider social impacts:   The regular shoppers, friends of the market and the visitors to the market come from all over.  They number in their thousands from celebrity chefs to rugby captains, cricket coaches, tv presenters, the old and the lonely, the young the entrepreneurial, tourists, local b & b, air b & b visitors, land agents with potential clients and politicians, walking groups, biking groups etc.  

The wider social impacts can be seen by our support of charitable organisations who also complement what the market is about. Local charity jams a long time stallholder  who  gives to local causes , Wellbeing, the Ashley River Rakahuri River care group Kaiapoi Parish, Rangiora Lions Club, Rangiora Fire Service, community groups, to mention a few,40kg of apples fortnightly have gone to the students of a local low decile school for a number of years. We are always looking for compatible causes to support. Our supporters know all this. Incidentally we have financially supported the Ohoka Domain and also previously shingled the Ohoka Hall carpark.

Environmental and educationally the WDC have used the market for waste, recycling and water related educational issues. Swannanoa, Rangiora, Kaiapoi, and some city schools have all used the market at one time or another as part of their curriculum.  We have been the subject of university thesis on sustainable local food production, post-quake food resilience, magazine articles and of course stallholders winning national and regional food awards and featuring in all kinds of local and regional food promotions.

What started out as an experiment has grown into a popular and much appreciated food market that accommodates a wide and diverse group of people from your region and beyond.   

To conclude the market is a place of significant social collaboration and has become a way of life for many.  It does not exist for profit, it exists for purpose.  For 3/12 hours every Friday morning every week, month and year,   it is a place for people to gather, to buy healthy food, discuss their food options, share local knowledge, learn about their local growers,  meet neighbours and friend’s and make new friends. 

It is an inclusive event and it reflects the ever changing diversity in our region that so many of us have come to appreciate and to some extent take for granted. If there is any true wealth it is in the community’s self-determination which has enabled the market to become as popular as it is. And of that we can be proud. 

So your decision tonight matters to all of these people I have mentioned. The market has a positive impact on so many people’s lives.   We will be thankful to you as community board members of your decision to approve the Alternative Draft Ohoka domain plan, which I sincerely hope you will. 

Thank you for your time.                                                    Barbara Warren 

The alternate plan was approved by the Community Board and is subject to funding in future years' budgets. The total cost to ratepayers will be $290,000.  $20,000 of that includes the pathway and the small extension to the car park the rest is the playground and landscaping. 

If you would like to view the submissions you can do so at the market where they are displayed for everyone to read. They make interesting reading and show the significant support the market has.  There are of course the grumblings from a very small number of ragtag local individuals who have justified their obvious long time resentment of the market on the false premise that the market has its hand out for council funded money and is not entitled to it.  It is unclear as to why some submitters had come to this conclusion that  OFM had asked for a larger car park to be funded by the council. We did not. Contrary to this, we have never requested any financial assistance and we do not do so now.  What we sought was Council and local groups support of what is obviously a significant weekly event for the area and of benefit to all.  Council have done this by approval of the alternate plan.  We can only hope that the individuals who in pursuing their own personal hobbies no matter how worthy and so eager for ratepayers money, use it to the benefit of all and come to appreciate how they too can benefit from the market in their area.   Perhaps they may be enlightened from reading the speech above, but no doubt they haven't and won't.  Some change comes slowly.