Townies have had a cow over a decision by an Auckland community garden to kill its stock.

Kelmarna Organic Community Gardens & City Farm announced this week it had decided to kill three cows, with fine cuts from the trio to feature in meat packs which have already been fully pre-purchased.

The garden bordering Grey Lynn and Herne Bay promoted its first offering of beef as "from our free ranging, grass-fed cattle, as local as you can get".

But that decision has been deemed a load of bull by some outraged Aucklanders, with one person posting on social media in response: "There is no ethical justification for slaughtering sentient creatures when other forms of food are available. A moral one, yes, but not ethical."

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Another wrote: "My kid loved coming to visit the garden and meet the animals. They would be heartbroken to know those lovely creatures are going to be sold for slaughter."

"Is it gonna be an open killing day? Can families get together and bring their kids to see how they're slaughtered?" one person asked.

Some people even offered to purchase the cows and give them a new home.

But not everyone has a beef with the decision to offer organic, local produce, and to show city dwellers exactly where their food came from.

"I hadn't found a way of sourcing ethically grown, local beef. Until we become fully vegetarian I am trying my best to make the best choices possible so thanks for offering this option," one person commented.

"I'm a vegetarian, and for humane reasons - but people are going to eat cattle, come what may. These creatures have been lovingly treated and have had a better and happier time than many. Why don't you all pick on folk who really give animals a terrible life?" another comment read.

Kelmarna Community Garden Trust Board chair Phillippa Wilkie defended the decision in a letter, thanking those who offered to rehome the cows but stating it was "not a financial decision".

"In our view the discussion about which foods we should eat as part of a truly sustainable diet, and whether animal products should be part of that, is ongoing.

"We consider that those who choose to eat meat should be able to know where it has come from and how it has been raised, in order to make an informed decision about it.
"This is why we have chosen to involve the community in this process."

Kelmarna was established as a city farm in the 1980s, to be a demonstration resource for the community, and to promote organic food growing and self-sufficiency, Wilkie wrote.

"For decades this has involved grazing livestock in our paddocks that have all ended up in the food system."

The three Hereford steers started their lives on the school farm at Mt Albert Grammar School, before being gifted to Kelmarna in 2017, as a koha for many years of grazing.

Since then, the cows had been seen and heard by members of the community, happily roaming the paddocks surrounding the gardens, foraging the pasture, even tearing strips off banana palms.

"We took on the responsibility to decide on their care and their future as an opportunity to contribute to a more sustainable local food system," Wilkie said.

They encouraged furthering the conversation about building a more sustainable food system.

"Characteristics of a better food system include honesty and transparency.

"We welcome additions to this conversation about how we can be part of a better and more sustainable food system, and will continue to engage our community around this issue in the future. It is a critical and highly complex issue, which can be emotionally charged."

Some of the cuts would be served at Kelmarna's partner restaurants across the city, and cured into bresaola by A Lady Butcher.

All proceeds from the meat sales would be returned to the community through Kelmarna's programme of educational, therapeutic and community-building activities.

The Herald has approached the Kelmarna Community Garden Trust Board for comment.