Powered by the sun and local volunteers, Common Unity’s off-grid, purpose-built community kitchen produces around 200 vegetarian meals every day for the Lower Hutt community.
Made with 100 percent locally grown produce, half the meals are given to children at four local primary schools, while the rest are sold to cover operational costs.
Common Unity began in 2012 when founder Julia Milne and her neighbour, the principal of Epuni Primary School, converted the school’s soccer field into a vegetable garden. The aim was to teach the students how to grow and cook their own fresh, healthy food – something that many of the students didn't have regular access to at the time.
Common Unity is anchored by strong values, particularly around reciprocity and sharing. “Gardening is a great thing to teach children, particularly the idea of harvest and abundance, which creates a possibility to share. It’s quite special for the students to share their kai with others – sharing is a powerful thing when your experience is not having enough,” says Julia.
“While the project began from a desire to feed children, our vision – Every child has a village - recognises that it takes more than a garden to feed a community and nourish our children,” says Julia. Community Unity now acts as an umbrella to 21 social enterprises – initiatives that both incubate and nurture the needs of the community.