A Marlborough farmer fed up with a lack of action from climate change protesters has challenged them to walk the walk.
Fourth-generation Flaxbourne farmer John Hickman is looking for people to help pioneer change in a practical way.
The forward-thinking farmer wants to give people the chance to help – by getting their hands dirty.
“What got me going was the climate change protests,” he says.
“People were protesting to council and government – and I don’t think that’s the right way to get things done.”
To get the ball rolling, the Taimate Angus co-owner has fenced wetland on his 750-hectare farm and ordered 2000 native plants.
All he needs now is people power to help get the project underway.
He says people should take responsibility for the environment, but that many don’t know where to start.
“I want to give people who are anxious, who are worried about the future, an outlet – something to do that will make a difference to the environment for both habitat restoration and potential climate mitigation”.
“It’s up to each person but a lot of people simply don’t have the means.
“We have the land and the plants, but we struggle with the time,” John says.
Several years ago, John a neighbour and another worker spent weeks planting 6000 natives around Lake Elterwater – which his farm borders.
He says a flood in the first year buried the plants in debris, then it got so dry he and the neighbour had to pump water via a fire pump from the lake to keep them watered.
“It’s a hard environment to get things going, southerlies and northerlies roar through here.
“But we’re now building on a strong base.”
The lake, now boasting healthy lowland totara, kanuka, manuka, Carex, Oleria, Hoheria, cabbage trees, kowhai and flax attracts birdlife that people travel from throughout New Zealand to see.
“The lake’s a showcase area but there are other areas around the farm, other habitats that can be restored,” he says.
The programme has inspired John to replicate the success in other areas in the farm – with hopes to take it even further.
“So, I’m getting the ball rolling and getting things going from here.”
“I wanted somewhere that could link farmers and people that want to help.
“It’s also a way for farmers to do a larger area of planting and brings their cost down.
“At the same time, it helps the urban people that are feeling helpless.”
John says it will also help to break down the rural/urban divide.
“I’m a farmer.
“I don’t consider myself a massive environmentalist, but I do consider myself a protector of the land.”
The first planting day is organised for 9 August.
To get involved email [email protected]
“People, instead of protesting, can come help us out.”