Topic: Organic organiser has a growing passion
Hauraki Herald reporter Marilyn Molloy meets a Thames woman who is passionate about organic farming and sustainability. Her story appeared in the Hauraki Herald on 21 January, 2011.
GWENYTH Wright is determined to stem the flow of organic growing knowledge and nurture it in New Zealand.
The 84 year old said she used to host Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms volunteers on her Thames property but the overseas visitors would leave with all of the good organic knowledge.
''New Zealand doesn't benefit from that at all,'' she said. Five years ago Gwenyth, along with other people interested in growing organics, set up the Thames Organic Planning Group for mutual support. The group quickly realised the need for ''instruction and further knowledge'', so organised field days and courses.
Gwenyth attended a National Organics Conference and ''found'' organics lecturer Micky Cunningham. With gentle persuasion she got him to come to Thames and run a year-long, level three organics course. The octogenarian attended Mr Cunningham's first course in Thames and found it stimulating and informative.
This year the group is launching a pilot internship scheme involving working on an organic property and taking Mr Cunningham's New Zealand Qualification Authority-approved organic growing course, awarded by Telford Polytechnic. The course's overall aim is to build ecosystems, promote biodiversity and increase soil and plant health, instead of relying on artificial fertilisers and poisonous sprays.
It explores the latest trends in sustainable farming both internationally and in New Zealand and introduces a range of design and management systems that provide useful guidelines and tools for ongoing management, planning and diagnosis - whether applied to a property layout or a new production venture.
''We decided an internship would work better [than the WWOOFers scheme] and service New Zealanders and the industry.''
Gwenyth and her partner Colin Broadley are embracing the scheme and have their first intern, Richard Mellor.
Gwyneth's efforts to encourage sustainability also saw her organise a national conference of the earth building fraternity in Thames in 2006, a feature at the time being their newly completed cob (mud) house. ''A mud house is very affordable to build if you use a simple design and do the work yourself,'' she said.
The Angel Fund is another project driven by Gwenyth. In 1992 she and two friends came up with the idea to establish a fund that could lend money to women so they could start a small business or restructure their debt. Gwenyth ran with the idea and is still involved today.