RECEPTIONIST: G’Day, this is Amanda at the Urban Farm Collective. How can I help you?
CALLER: Good afternoon. I’d like to inquire about taking a tour of some of your farms. Is that possible?
RECEPTIONIST: It sure is. Are you familiar at all with our program?
CALLER: Not in the least. Actually, I’ve just moved to Auckland from Wellington, and somebody I met at a café recommended contacting you. They said you provide a very unique experience.
RECEPTIONIST: I think that’s safe to say. You see, we’re the only organization who works with urban farmers in Auckland. Did you realize that over 500 people in this city are urban farmers?
CALLER: Wow, really? I had no idea. And I feel silly asking this, but what exactly does urban farming entail? You know, how is it different than, say, a farm out in the country?
RECEPTIONIST: That’s a good question. Well, obviously an urban farm is different in the sense that it’s within a city or town. Because of the location, you know, um, there’s not a lot of room to grow things. And then there’s the legal side of things…
CALLER: It’s not illegal to farm in the city, is it?
RECEPTIONIST: Oh no. I mean, people have gardens, right? But what makes an urban farm different is what’s grown. People grow not only tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and greens, but many of them grow larger crops like wheat and corn. Not to mention, the law says you can have up to four chickens in the city and a single goat.
CALLER: I imagine the chickens get loud, don’t they? Doesn’t that cause problems?
RECEPTIONIST: Oh, I think you’re picturing roosters…you know, male chickens. They’re the ones who crow in the morning. But female chickens, the hens, stay rather quiet. And, you know, they lay eggs almost daily. And if you’ve never had fresh eggs straight off a farm, you’re in for a treat. They’re nothing like the ones you usually buy at the store.
CALLER: What makes them so different?
RECEPTIONIST: Well, they’re not white coloured, for instance. People don’t usually realize this, but each breed of chicken lays a slightly different coloured egg. All the eggs at the store look the same because they’re all from the same breed. What else? Oh yeah…on urban farms, most people feed their animals scraps from leftover food, so the animals eat very well. Almost as good as people.
CALLER: Fascinating. So, tell me more about the tour.
RECEPTIONIST: Oh, right. So, yeah, we offer tours of local farms once a month. And you’re in luck, because there’s one going on this Sunday, the 16th.
CALLER: How long does it typically last?
RECEPTIONIST: It varies because we rotate between different locations each time. What we end up doing is choosing a neighborhood and then going around to several places there. For this Sunday’s trip, we’ll meet up at 10:30 a.m. in front of Sally’s Chocolate Shop. That’s in the Mt. Eden neighbourhood, where the farms we’ll tour are located.
CALLER: Mt. Eden…I haven’t been there, but I’ve heard of it. Lots of boutiques and restaurants, right?
RECEPTIONIST: Exactly. And also quite a few urban farms. Also, it bears mentioning, most people who go on the tours…it’s usually anywhere between fifteen and forty people...well, almost everyone travels around on foot. For differently abled people, if we have 24 hours notice, we can arrange for an alternative form of transportation. We want everyone to be included you know.
CALLER: I don’t mind walking. It’s good exercise. This sounds great, and I’d like to sign up.
RECEPTIONIST: Fantastic. You’re the twentieth person on the list, then. Can I have your name?
CALLER: Joseph Taylor. T-A-Y-L-O-R.
RECEPTIONIST: All right, Mr. Taylor. You’re on the list. And, um, the tours are free of charge. We recommend a $5 tip for your tour guide, but that’s up to you. It’s optional.
CALLER: And are there samples?
RECEPTIONIST: Not free samples, no…but every farmer will have products for sale if you’d like to buy any. We’ll provide each tour member with a reusable bag to put any purchases in. Even if you don’t make any, you’ll still have a fine souvenir.
CALLER: Magnificent. I’m looking forward to it!