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Bees over ‘beefies’
In late August of 2016, Richard and I bought some bees. At the beginning of the month I had gone on a cyclonic trip through the ins and outs of working with a hive. Called The Practical Beekeeping Course, it was a two-day immersive education in working a hive. When I got home each day around 8 pm, Richard and I would go over the notes, read some more and Google anything we had contradictory information on. Which, incidentally was
The Minister of Conservation on choosing mosaic over monoculture
For 21 years, World Wetlands Day has been celebrated on 2 February. It was born out of the 1971 adoption of the Convention on Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention, which is a global treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. In her maiden speech to Parliament in February of 2012, Green MP Eugenie Sage opened with an acknowledgment of ‘the rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and aquifers throughout Aotearoa for all the life they sustain. Without clean and
On a dry day in spring
During Conservation Week in October, Horahora School teachers, children and parents came back to the farm for a morning to lend a helping hand with our weir planting. Armed with spades and gumboots, they learned about why we created two large pools of water on the farm and how the digger created the new area. Cabbage tree, kowhai, kahikatea and grasses were among the plants that were gingerly placed in the ground. The kids split up into smaller groups of two to three, and used
How a buried stream became a well-formed sieve
The southern catchment spans around a third of our farm’s total area and discharges into an extensive gully wetland, eventually flowing into the Whangaipeteki Stream. The water then goes on a 2.6 km serpentine journey to the Waikato River. As on many farms in New Zealand, for a few decades the water had been channelled into a drain system, to make the most of pastureland and to reduce ‘bogging’, or ‘pugging’ by stock. However, the early weeks of the New
Learning about issues such as sustainability and locavorism are things that you need to have as part of you as a chef, because it will make you cook more delicious food.
The question is wai
Published in Cuisine Magazine (issue 183) in July, 2017. We were lucky to be featured in Aaron McLean’s strong piece intensified farming, vs exploring alternatives in New Zealand. It’s a great read and part of a much larger debate that’s starting to bubble up to the surface. We’re thankful to Cuisine for backing these more thought-provoking takes on our local food system. If you don’t have razor-sharp eyesight, press the zoom on your browser window to read. Or, grab yourself
The greatest danger to our future is apathy.
The Good Farmer: in defence of (non-industrial) dairying
Published in The Spinoff on April 24, 2017. Earlier this month, the current affairs show Sunday aired a segment called The Price of Milk. It outraged a lot of people, especially in the farming community, and for days after the show’s Facebook page was swarming. If you didn’t catch it, a lot of the shock was around the treatment of animals and the environment – building on the last few years of negative sentiment. It felt like a jolt. My family
There’s always the pushback from the conventional model – organic can’t feed the world. And after thirty-four years (not three, or four) thirty-four years later, our data shows* yields are the same. Conventional right next to organic. When the soil is healthy, we have shown that yields are improved in the organic trials when there’s issues of drought. Up to 31% higher yields. So, there’s the beauty of growing with life.
*Started in 1981, The Farming Systems Trial (FST)® at Rodale Institute is America’s longest running, side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture.
Rebuilding on the edge
The Maungatautari Ecological District has less than 10 per cent of its native vegetation remaining. Before our farm was cleared, it would have consisted of rimu–tawa forest on the flat and gently sloping areas, tōtara forest on gully slopes, and kahikatea forest throughout its gully basins. There’s no denying that, for about a century, marginal land has been marginalised in New Zealand. Back in July 2015, we started to rebuild the wetlands on our farm. With the help of an
It might not be the whole solution, but a million hectares of trees would make a big difference – not to mention the added benefits for erosion and water quality.
Alex Atala: He who lives, shall see. Quem viver, verá
Milad Alexandre Mack Atala was born in Brazil in 1968 and during his late teens and twenties lived the life of a punk – a redheaded, fair-skinned kid, patched in tattoos, deeply immersed in music, with an appetite for drugs. That was his truth back then – the way of the anarchist – but he now describes that point of view as being too reductive: “I have no doubt that the way punks look at the world is quite singular. I’m
We’re letting all these things die which actually have flavor, character, and stories. I believe that when people stop growing food, they stop telling stories. Each seed has a story, the story of its origin – its agricultural history and its uses in the field – but also at the table – its flavor and the way it tastes differently than most things that are available today. Sometimes they tell the story of the family.
We make money because we do good. We find a way to integrate social responsibility into how we do business on a day-to-day basis. Which, makes it a key driver of future growth and profitability.
A spring-fed wetland becomes a reality beneath the mountain
Seven months ago Gully 3 was just like any other gully on the farm. Stock teetered on the edge of its steep sides; sidlings, they’re called. It was used to graze beef animals, as their sturdy frames can handle the tricky contours. Although it was good for our heavy, stocky animals, it wasn’t good for the eroding land, or its wet gully floor. New Zealand wetlands are often misunderstood. By and large they’ve been forgotten about, ploughed up, hoofed up, dredged
Ben Shewry on family, foraging and a new take on an old idea
I heard the voice of a GPS navigation woman before Ben’s. It was 9 a.m. on the dot Australian Eastern Standard Time and Ben Shewry was en route somewhere in the city of Melbourne. In a world of ‘top tens’, Michelin stars, chef hats and reviews from anyone who eats, Ben’s Attica is number 32 in the world, right now, by the only list that counts – The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Every chef on the list does something that