green is the new green


Nelson winners

2010 eco challenge winner

20 September 2010

Eco Challenge Nelson Winners’ Recipe for Success

The McConnell family of Nelson were the winners of the 2010 Ecofest Eco Challenge which was all about eating and buying local.

Bruce, Lynn and their son Matthew McConnell who live in the Toi Toi area took part in the challenge which ran for the month prior to Ecofest (Friday, 16 July 2010 to Friday, 20 August 2010). As part of the challenge they were encouraged to ONLY eat and drink produce that had been grown, baked, made or produced within the Top of the South and to keep notes about their experiences.

The McConnells went to great lengths for the challenge, including plucking and gutting their own locally sourced roosters, exchanging labour in exchange for fruit and vegetables and even making tea from kawa kawa leaves. They also discovered ‘Open Orchards’ around Nelson and even managed to source local food for their dog!

These are some of their diary entries:

  • 23rd July – We have decided not to eat bread as no grains are grown locally. We are eating a lot more dried fruit and eating much more of last night’s cooked tea for our lunches.
  • 25th July – It has been ten days and we feel we need a grain in our diet for our B vitamins, so we have decided to add bread into our diet and Lynn is hanging out for a cup of tea. She later discovers KeriKeri Roobush and manuka at the Greengrower – local to NZ
  • 30th July – we are feeling better for our local diet so far. None of us has had the colds of other families. However I bought some black tea today.
  • 31st July – Today we pruned “open orchard” trees. We now have a growing knowledge of local fruit and nut trees for next year 2011.
  • 14th August – Walked to market and picked up apples and arranged with Wolfgang to pick two crates kiwifruit in exchange for pruning some vines . Picked up six more roosters last night from Mt Heslington – plucked and gutted until 10.30pm. West Meat have meat that comes from the West Coast so we are buying dog bones and dog rolls from here – the dog is now local!

Overall, the McConnells say it was a great experience and they plan to stick with all of the changes they made, including shopping mainly at the Farmers market and Saturday market and eating mostly from their own garden.

As the winners of the Nelson Challenge, the McConnells received a fantastic prize of a $500 voucher from FreshChoice Nelson, $250 worth of vouchers from Bunnings, and a $50 Christmas account from New Zealand Credit Union (NZCU).

Tasman winners

eco challenge tasman winners 2010

14 September 2010

Valuable Lessons in Eco Challenge

The Tasman winner of the Eco Challenge 2010, Katerina Seligman of Motueka, says giving up comfort food such as rice pudding, rice toast and coffee was the hardest part.

The Top of the South Food Challenge, part of Ecofest, was all about eating and buying local and supporting local growers and suppliers. For the month prior to Ecofest (Friday, 16 July 2010 to Friday, 20 August 2010), Nelson and Tasman residents were challenged to ONLY eat and drink produce that had been grown, baked, made or produced within the Top of the South.

Katerina went to great lengths for the challenge, including sourcing local gluten-free grain and a grinder so she could grind it herself. She also accessed local milk from the Riverside Community Dairy so that she could make her own yoghurt, and in the process discovered keffir - (a beverage made from cultured milk). However she says the biggest challenges were the psychological ones.

“I have become aware of how very attached I am to certain quick, easy comfort foods, how much more planning is require in preparing food for any outing and how addicted I am to coffee and chocolate!” she says.

Katerina says her rationale for taking up the Eco Challenge was her growing concern about climate change.

“The food challenge came at a perfect time and I decided to go all out and eat 100 percent local. I can say that I failed in this idealistic goal. However I learned heaps and it has been a very worthwhile experience. I will definitely continue on with some of my new eating habits such as eating local maize, keffir, hazelnuts, kumara, olive oil, soy beans, wine and tofu,” she says.

As the Tasman winner, Katerina received a fantastic prize of a $500 voucher from FreshChoice Richmond, $250 worth of vouchers from Bunnings, and a $50 Christmas present from New Zealand Credit Union (NZCU).

Overall ...

Ecofest organiser Jo Reilly says she was inspired by the creativity and dedication shown by those who took part in the Eco Challenge.

“There are some fantastic stories amongst the applications we received, from the woman who teamed up with other parents at her children?s school to plan and construct a school vege garden, to the family that researched and built a beehive so they could have honey, to the people who created a food map for Motueka. It was fantastic for raising awareness about eating local and for highlighting businesses like Fresh Choice Richmond that stock a lot of local produce.”


  • Grow it!  Prepare now – get growing those winter vegetables.
  • Make it! Make your own bread, pasta, sauces and jams.
  • Freeze it! There’s lots of excess produce around late summer/early autumn to freeze for winter.
  • Swap it!  You’ve got excess Broccoli, your neighbour has excess Leeks – talk, put up notices, use the Ecofest Facebook Discussion page to network.
  • Buy it! From local growers, suppliers and producers – Check out local markets & roadside stands.  Look out for those businesses supporting other Locals, such as FreshChoice Nelson City and FreshChoice Richmond.
  • Support it!  Form a support group, family, friends, church or community groups, your street, etc. 
  • Eat it!  Watch out for local cafes and restaurants with LOCAL menu items.
  • Share it!  Log on to the “Ecofest Nelson Tasman” Facebook page to share your secrets to success.  What have you found?  How are you doing it?  Check out the Discussion page.

Click to go to the Ecofest Facebook page here.

Proudly sponsored by

= 200k + bunnings classic hits

There are great prizes for the top two Eco Challengers:  A Nelson resident’s prize of $500 in vouchers from FreshChoice Nelson City, $250 in vouchers from Bunnings, and a $50 Christmas present from NZCU; and a Tasman resident’s prize of $500 in vouchers from FreshChoice Richmond, $250 in vouchers from Bunnings, and a $50 Christmas present from NZCU.  Other smaller rewards will be awarded to highly commended Eco Challengers.  To find out more about how to enter, download the full information sheet .
Our two local FreshChoice supermarkets are ideal sponsors for the Eco Challenge, with both being owned by local people and having a strong focus on supporting local suppliers.  FreshChoice Nelson City launched a buy local strategy in 2006, and highlights products grown or produced within a 200km radius by its <200k yellow logo.  FreshChoice Richmond launched its Go Local programme in February 2010 and clearly displays its Go Local logo next to all local products instore.  Bunnings, too, are huge supporters of the local community and local causes, and encourage DIY and gardening with their regular workshops.

Support our local businesses – there are many out there putting huge effort into making great food and drink; eg. we may not grow coffee, but we have great local coffee roasting houses; and we may not grow wheat, but there are many bakers producing a fabulous range of breads.  Support them!

Download Eco Challenge tips here  
Download list of supporting businesses here  

Supporting seminars, links etc.  Click on the Eat Local link for all sorts of tips and information.
  For the Create Your Own Eden schedule of workshops, and lots of advice.  Join Get Growing for weekly advice for your garden.  Website also includes growing tips, recipes and more.  Type in the name of the vegetable and get all sorts of recipes and tips for it.  Check out the Mission Challenge for inspiration from people that have done a similar challenge.
Transition Towns groups: and  

Download your form here to register your support and download your Supporters poster here to place in your window.

More information to come!  Watch this space!