Rising food prices are compelling more people to rent garden spaces in Tauranga.
September's Food Price Index highlighted an increase in fruit and vegetable prices and a record high for butter, with the cheapest available at $5.55 for a 500g block.
Not-for-profit group Good Neighbour's community garden managers Anne Gourley (Bethlehem) and Andrea Green (Welcome Bay) said they had noticed an increase in interest from people wanting to rent plots in the shared gardens to grow their own food.
They believed it was partly due to a trickle-down effect of rising fruit and vegetable prices, and more people wanting to ensure their food was organic and pesticide-free.
Mrs Gourley said the charity was considering handing more of its gardens over to renters, who paid $15 a month.
About 70 per cent of the charity's 42 garden spaces were allocated for renters. The rest were used to grow food for the general community and charity initiatives, which she said would still be well served with fewer plots.
"We are running out of gardens to rent out," Mrs Gourley said.
Mrs Green said it was not about making money, it was about giving people ownership over the gardens, helping new and experienced growers connect and reducing workloads for volunteers.
"For the cost of an organic lettuce you can grow a packet's worth of lettuces," Mrs Green said.
She said attendance at recently introduced crop-swap events in Tauranga - where growers could trade excess produce - was growing each month.
Omokoroa cooking teacher and recipe book author Carolie de Koster said growing herbs and vegetables was a "smart choice" for people wanting to spend less on food and learn how to eat seasonally.
However, investing more time into home cooking was her number one cost-saving tip.
People worried about the soaring cost of dairy products could consider using milk powder for dairy in sauces, desserts, custard and baking, she said.
Ms de Koster said she made her own butter, but it was not a frugal move.
"It is still more expensive than the bought butter unless you have a cow or cheap milk supply."
She recommended blending butter with oil to make it go further and reduce saturated fat levels.
Welcome Bay home baker Judy Dickie said the price of butter was "criminal" but it was her one luxury.
"I think it's criminal that we live in a country with all these cows and we're forced to pay $5 or $6 for half a kilo of butter."
Food Price Index, September
Price increases over the last year.
- Food Price Index up 3 per cent
- Vegetables up 6.5 per cent
- Fruit up 4.4 per cent
- Meat, poultry and fish up 1.4 per cent
- Grocery food, including dairy, up 3.7 per cent
- Butter up 60 per cent, hitting a record high
- Cheese up 8.6 per cent
- Yoghurt up 7 per cent
- Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food up 2.2 per cent
Source: Statistics New Zealand
Make your butter go further for less
Omokoroa cooking teacher Carolie de Koster's recipe to make butter go further:
- butter, diced and slightly softened at room temperature
- olive, flaxseed or sunflower oil, or a mixture oils.
Using either a food processor or a bowl and hand mixer, begin blending the butter. Slowly add the oil and beat or process until light and creamy.
Divide the spread between 3 - 4 smaller bowls, seal and refrigerate.