Introduction to Change – Growing Our Future

Written by Kay Baxter and Bob Corker (Co-founders)

The model we have developed for ‘saving the seeds’ doesn’t work without a large input of voluntary work, especially from us, which we are not able to continue with. It is time for us to change what we have been doing, and bring forward a new shape. The costs of saving the whole collection, exceeds the income we generate from seeds sales, workshops, Permaculture design Courses etc., and doesn’t fully support the needs of the collection. All the business activities we generate, are used to ‘subsidise’ the collection which is not a sustainable model for the business activities either. . Something has to change!

The only way we see we can continue to save this collection is to engage many more people as kaitiaki or members of the Trust. Our membership is usually approx. 1000 – 1500. At $45 per member this amounts to less than $68,000 per year. The real cost of maintaining the collection is between $150,000 – $200,000 per year. Over the next 6 months we are going to run a nationwide campaign to enlist a whole new range of members, at least 5,000, mainly from those who haven’t engaged with Koanga up until now. That’s approx. 0.1% of NZ’s population, or 8 people in a region the size of Wairoa (8,000). We believe this achievable. So we will spend the next six months running a campaign to connect with this ‘group’ of people. The people of this land must save the seed of this land!!

In addition to the need to better support the heritage collection, we are also aware that we would like to make a better job of the commercial activities we have developed, that are also an important part of the vision we hold. There is no point in saving these food plants and generating knowledge here if its not shared! Being a charitable trust limits our ability to do this well. For this reason, we have decided to split ‘Koanga’ into two sections.

ONE: A continuation of the Koanga Institute (with charitable status) whose roles will be:

* Guardian/Kaitiaki for the heritage collection

* Research into all aspects of regenerative living that can be applied to educational curriculum and environmental development.

To fund the ongoing requirements of the charitable section from the following sources:

* A sustained campaign to build a larger membership base covering a wide section of aligned New Zealanders.

* To develop a group of committed ‘sponsors’

* To maintain a regular campaign for grants from funding organisations.

* To use rentals, royalties, and shareholder dividends from the commercial section outlined below.

The Institute will continue to own all its existing assets (land and buildings) as well as the Trade Mark

TWO: A Social Enterprise whose role will be to:

Encourage investment and commercial engagement in regenerative development.

The social enterprise (no name yet) will continue with the existing commercial operations, and improve these (seed and product sales, nursery sales, and education). The value of the commercial operations developed by the Institute over the last 30 years will be included as shareholding, with the aim of providing another source of funds to support the Institute.

As well, we will be looking to add more ventures later including:

* The provision of bulk quantities of heritage organic seeds to commercial growers

* A consultancy/design/development service

* A pilot Bioregional Trading Co-operative.

* Other projects being explored.

Bringing the New Shape into Being

We are planning on having the two new organisations up and running before 1st July 2017, (the start of our new financial year) with the first priorities during that time being:

* Rejuvenating and maintaining the existing organisation with an emphasis on website development and increasing seed sales and memberships

* An outline of the business plan for the new commercial model

* An outline of business plans for each of the potential projects

* Seeking and holding discussions with potential investors both for the social enterprise, and any of the projects, this to include an approach to Institute members and the general public to raise support for both organisations.

We will be adding a new website page soon, to keep you in touch with what is happening, and we will send out a newsletter when this gets posted. In the meantime you are welcome to send any feedback or suggestions to [email protected]