A marae-based project in Northland is teaching local residents to grow their own food, in a bid to foster food security and encourage healthy eating.
A number of educational hui will be held to teach people in Kaipara how to make the most of their backyard to grow kai.
The programme is being developed by the Māuri Orā ki Ngāti Whatua Charitable Trust, with the first hui scheduled to be held at Naumai Marae in Ruawai on January 23.
A pilot garden with herbs, and vegetables such as lettuce, silverbeet, onions and carrots, will also be planted at the marae.
"During last year's COVID-19 lockdowns, local iwi helped bring fresh food into the district for disadvantaged and isolated residents," Nick Story, the Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI) director of rural communities and farming support, said on Wednesday.
"The aim of this project is to help build resilience in Kaipara's rural communities, equipping them with the skills to be more self-sufficient."
Māuri Orā ki Ngāti Whatua Charitable Trust received $20,000 from MPI's Rural Community Hubs programme to run the project.
Trust administrator Hazel Hornell said the hui are open to the whole community.
"Growing kai brings communities together and builds and strengthens social connections. My friends with vegetable gardens share their surplus produce with friends, family, and elderly residents unable to grow their own food."
Hui are also planned for Ripia Marae, south of Te Kōpuru, and Parirau Marae, northwest of Matakohe.
Trust director Grace Le Gros said it is hoped the project will inspire people to eat healthier and could also help create jobs in the region.
"Kaipara is known as the country's kumara capital and this project will help upskill people and could propel them into employment," she said.
"As peoples' skill level grows, we will encourage local marae to use some of their land to produce kai and generate jobs. Getting people off the unemployment benefit will be a win-win for the Government and our community."
Anyone wishing to take part in the hui should contact Hazel Hornell at email@example.com.