This week, a large fire burnt down six homes near Whitianga and destroyed parts of the organic farm and community Wilderlands, a sustainable food producer since 1964. I first came to the Hauraki/Coromandel in 1972 and by then Dan and Edith Hansen had already established the open door commune on a regenerating hillside just south of Whitianga. They were legendary for their welcome to all comers and their commitment to gardening, orchards and honey production. I remember Dan, who used a wheelchair to get around, as a tough and tolerant visionary.
The proud history of Wilderlands organic farm community, they will rise from the ashes, was proud to know founders pic.twitter.com/ZsLKp8HL8O
— Catherine Delahunty (@greencatherine) January 18, 2017
Over the years, this community has been through many changes and has in recent years been a very successful organic food producer with a shop and a presence at festivals with a vibrant offering of diverse organic foods.
Many young people from all over the world have spent time at Wilderlands learning about organic food production.
Several years ago, Wilderlands had trouble with the Council over building consent issues and were required to pay out large sums to rectify some problems. I advocated for tolerance and negotiation not threats to the Mayor of our district because I had been to the farm and I really wanted to support these people. Some were presenting them as feral and unsanitary when in fact they are an organised, size limited, hard working group of farmers. These issues have been resolved which is why it’s extra sad to see the effects of the fire. They have lost two homes and their honey shed, their truck and some food producing areas are burnt.
Yesterday, I went over to see how I might help and talked to some of the families who are staying at a nearby campground until it’s safe to go home. They were all very positive and resilient because of the huge community support they have received but also aware that rebuilding their farm systems and some buildings is a big challenge. This community was built on love not cash so if you want to support a unique organic food farm based on collective effort recover please help via Give a Little.
Four other homes near Wilderlands were also destroyed by the fire and there is a Mayoral fund you can donate to.
The Hauraki/Coromandel has many unique sustainability initiatives and the Green Party has always been proud to support them. Wilderlands has taken a bit hit and we need to support them. Please follow their Facebook page for updates on how you can participate in their recovery.