The Horticultural Action Group (HAG) has been contacted by a number of larger vegetable growers who are interested in entering into short term leases (e.g. 1-3 years) of land impacted by flooding during Cyclone Gabrielle, on which they could grow crops (e.g. squash, onions etc). This would help landowners realise some income off their land, while they wait to be able to replant orchards, or think further about what they want to do. Productively using the land will also be beneficial for soil health.
If a block hasn’t yet been cleared, potentially The Hawke’s Bay Sediment and Debris Recovery Fund (Commercial Entities) can be used to help fund land clearance. This fund is administered by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and remains open for applications until the end of August (2023). Further information is available, and applications can be made online here: Silt and debris | Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (hbrc.govt.nz)
The HAG is aware that some blocks have been cleared but stumps not properly removed, which does not make it a good option for cropping. Please make sure that if your block is being cleared, that it is done properly, with no trees stumps etc left in the ground. Vegetable growers won’t risk putting expensive machinery into blocks where there is a high chance of it being damaged.
Having access to water for irrigation is also important. Initial discussions HAG have had with the Consents Team at the Regional Council indicate that some changes to existing consents may be able to be made to allow short term cropping to occur (i.e. increases in rate of up to 5L/s that may be required to allow crops to be effectively irrigated). This is also the case for the many water permit applications that remain on hold with the regional council – interim consents could be issued to enable short term cropping to occur. Whether or not changes will be allowed will depend primarily on the location of a point of take – the regional council indicated that changes will likely be easier for takes that are not located on the Heretaunga Plains. Areas that may have issues with well interference such as Puketapu may require more assessment to ensure changes do not impact on other groundwater users.
If the idea of a short-term lease arrangement interests you, please make direct contact with any of the people below who are looking for land, and with whom you can discuss your particular situation in more detail.
If you have questions about your water permit, and possible changes you might need to make to it to enable a short-term leasing scenario to work, please contact Charlotte Drury on 027 3225595, or Charlotte.Drury@hortnz.co.nz