“Monday 15 October - the International Day of Rural Women - dawned bright and sunny as we set off from our homes throughout the Bay of Plenty to gather at the Kaharoa Hall for our Mystery Bus Trip of rural enterprises run by local women,” writes Mary McTavish.
“We were greeted by our National Councillor Wendy McGowan and introduced to Lachlan McKenzie another local resident.
Lachlan is a mine of scientific and geological information about the state of the Rotorua Lakes catchment area. He outlined all the nutrients - both good and bad - that are finding their way into the lakes through various means, man-made and naturally, and what steps the local farmers are taking to minimize the impact these nutrients are having on the welfare of the lakes.
Then it was time for the mystery tour, and we discovered that we had the “kiddies bus” for the day! The entire inside of the bus had been handpainted with the most intricate and detailed characters from fairy stories which were most interesting to decipher as we drove along during the day.
Our first stop was at Chris and Jamie Paterson’s farm where we viewed their new settling pond. This lined pond receives all the effluent from the cowshed which collects the solids and allows evaporation to take place before the liquids are pumped out. Chris and Jamie have done extensive planting around the perimeter of the pond which will act as screening when the plants grow.
From there we travelled only a short distance to visit Treeline Native Nursery which is run by another enterprising young couple Diane and John Coleman.
Diane noticed a gap in the native plant market some seventeen years ago and set herself up in a much smaller way than the impressive operation it is today. A band of busy ladies were pricking out minute seedlings into hundreds of small pots ready for next season.
Diane keeps her costs down by doing a lot of her own propagating and, now that they have a truck, can offer competitive freight rates for orders of over a thousand or more trees. Large scale plantings have been their life blood for many years with work for the local regional and local councils, but more recently this has become harder as more companies are now in this sector and competition fiercer.
We had a tour around the full operation and spoke to Diane’s friendly staff getting a few tips for our own domestic plantings along the way.
Mamaku Blue was our lunch stop where we sampled the blueberry treats that were on offer in the shop where all the products for sale had either a gooseberry or blueberry content. From juices to jams, liqueurs to lollies and even blueberry bones (dog biscuits), these folk had got something for everyone.
Joanna White and her Handmade New Zealand Lavender Farm was the penultimate stop on this trip of visiting rural women in their rural enterprises.
This is Joanna’s second lavender farm and having been on the site only five years from bare land she has done a wonderful job. A rustic shop and cottage garden aspect were most enticing and not many folk on the bus got back on after that stop without a purchase in their hands.
Wendy had one final treat in store for us as she has a neighbour who is a “gardenaholic” -Carol Shaw. Carol and her husband Paul have created a showpiece rural garden mixing new plantings amongst some old gnarled trees with mass underplantings of hostas and clivias. The garden is a credit to Carol’s hard graft and Paul’s willingness to do the heavy jobs.
The Shaws are taking part in the Rotorua Open Gardens Ramble in a couple of weeks and their garden will be fully in bloom by then.
A beautiful ending to a great day."