Posts Tagged ‘Garston’

Build It & They Will Come

14/01/2012

An Outpost of Sustainability

Robert and Robyn Guyton were determined to start a food forest instead of mowing a front lawn. And a forest did they grow,  when in the mid-’90’s,  they purchased some land and a house in the small coastal town of Riverton, New Zealand. Riverton along with its neighbor, Invercargill rank as one of the southernmost towns in the world, and back then Riverton was an affordable place to buy land. It still is compared to the northern resort towns of Wanaka and Queenstown, the latter which graces its runway with  private jets, rivaling Aspen Colorado.

The Guytons worked  in earnest on their two lots planting trees and plants based on permaculture practices. When they first started, they received some odd looks from the neighbors, as their front yard started to take on the forest look. There were no other like-minded people in Riverton when they arrived, but undeterred, they started a cooperative learning center called the South Coast Environment Society.

Today the organization modestly states on its website it is an umbrella group for a “several” local environmental groups who have information,displays and meetings in the centre. Those several groups include:

Groups working for protection and enhancement of local ecosystems:

  • Riverton Estuary Care Society
  • Aparima Pest Busters
  • Aparima Nursery Enterprise
  • Seed Balls for Restoration projects

Groups working to promote sustainable lifestyles:

  • Riverton Natural Health Group
  • South Coast Permaculture
  • Sustainable Lifestyles project
  • Riverton Organic Food Co-op

Groups promoting sustainable growing methods

  • Riverton Organic Growers Gardeners Group
  • Southland Seed Savers
  • Riverton Organic Farmers Market
  • Riverton Community Orchard
  • Rivertonians for Alternatives to Toxic Substances (RATS)

Robert Guyton

My wife and I met the Guytons when they were giving a presentation on sustainability to the ultra small Garston School, (which deserves its own blog post),  New Zealand. We were intrigued with their presentation, which included a movie (to be posted on this blog) called “Welcome to the Food Forest”. We decided to take our chances and take the hour and half drive from our place and show up unannounced. Even though we had a standing invitation, we happened to miss them, when we stopped by to say hi. Nevertheless, I decided to interview Mark Baily while visiting the centre. You can see the video on my adjacent post.  We’ll have to get down there again when Robert and Robyn are home, so we can get the proper tour of their food forest!

A Restored Mountain Hut Getaway with Good Energy

11/01/2012

A New Zealand Farmer Does Good by Following His Passion

Tom O'Brien of High Country Walks

Tom O’Brien, owner of Blackmore Farm and founder of High Country Walks has followed his passion by offering up a little hut on the back side of his 5000 acre farm. Called the Chinaman’s Hut, it was restored some years ago, by local volunteers, Tom and his father. The hut is situated on the rolling mountains of the Slate Range,  just south of the Remarkables Mountains, on the border of Otago and Southland. Tom took the afternoon to show me his farm, the backcountry and the Chinaman’s Hut. below is a short piece on the hut, and a chat with Tom about his philosophy and passion of sharing this part of the world with others.We’re in hopes, here at Mountain Spirit Institute of collaborating with Tom by running some programs on the Slate Range and Blackmore Farm. We chatted about providing Solo’s and other types of programs.
Thanks for the time you took to show me around Tom!
Note: I’ve met one of the volunteers who helped restore the Chinaman’s Hut, a neighbor of ours here in Kingston named Dusty, who I’ll see if I can get on tape in the next few days. He has an interesting story to tell of not only this restoration project by many others.

Learning to Snowboard Indoors and then.. Spreading the Wings

27/09/2011

By R. Richards

Marco Wells, Coronet Peak, NZ - Image: R. Richards

Last Friday, I had one of the strangest, (but good) experiences of my outdoor career –  I took a 14-year old friend snowboarding for the first time in the mountains. However, it wasn’t his first time snowboarding . He had learned at one of forty indoor ski facilities in the world, Snow Planet in Auckland, New Zealand. He learned to board over of a number of years, but had never been outside on natural snow on a mountain.  At Snow Planet they have a Poma style tow-lift. He had been on a chairlift once with his family, but that was in the summer without a snowboard on his feet. So combining his indoor boarding skills and one-time on a chair lift ride, gave him a collection of skills to head outside.  Taking him up Coronet Peak’s chair for the first run, was like watching someone who was putting all the pieces together. He kept saying, “Look at all this snow!” and, “We’re high up on this chair”. His skills were solid and it was quite an amazing experience to see someone come out of their shell or out of their building. The next days were filled with a trip in the backcountry, and an afternoon at the Remarkables Ski Area, where he was exposed to all sorts of terrain and conditions and handled them admirably.  It reminded some obscure fact of how many indoor rock climbers never climb on real rock, or never end up placing a piece of rock gear for protection on a climb, (what they quaintly call “trad”, I call climbing)

Anyway, congrats to Marco for coming out of the indoors ski gym and joining me in the mountains. Come out again soon! We’ll be waiting.