DO ALL CITY FOLK dream of upping sticks and going to live in the country? Does each and every one harbour a secret desire to be beyond the city noise and bluster, cocooned in the peace of the countryside? Lots of urbanites are of that mindset judging by the popularity of our annual country issue. It’s the favourite of many. It captures the energy of people making a living off the land. Sometimes that’s all they’re making – a living and often not a very robust one. Don’t I know about that after my four years as Madame Mizuna, during which our beautiful glasshouse produced 400 kilograms of gourmet greens a week yet seldom even covered the wages of the part-time staff. Thank heavens I also had this magazine, which I love so much. (And how happy I am to now own as well as edit.)
But I do miss country life, especially my big vegetable gardens where I could grow enough fruit and veges to
¯ feed the household and have some left to bottle, pickle and give away. I also still have ridiculous dreams that I sometimes (foolishly) run past the former Lord Lettuce. He’s developed a very poor attitude to such ideas. “The broom paddocks next door to Lombardy in St Bathans would be perfect for high- altitude high- health blackcurrant production,” I say. Up come his hands in a “Stop right there” motion. “Don’t even think about it,” he says in a commanding tone not often used and so not to be ignored.
I share the excitement of this country issue with you in secret anticipation of finding an idea with which I could sneak back to the country to pursue. I love to read about the courageous people of the land who see what others don’t, who experiment with new ideas, who work without recompense or acknowledgement – often for long periods – just because they are passionate about their goals. You will meet many such brave and visionary characters in the following pages.
Our belief in the value such men and women add to the country is demonstrated by our decision to become the media partner of a new award to identify and honour the country’s outstanding food and drinks producers. It is called exactly that – the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards – and our food editor Anna Tait- Jamieson and food writer Lucy Corry are both busy judging and are thrilled to be involved. You can be part of the voting process too by nominating your favourites, whether they are a farmers’ market, a New Zealand food region, a specialty store or supermarket, a food product or a food producer. If you haven’t yet voted, there’s still time (visit outstandingfoodproducer.nz). And in our next issue, you will be able to read about the winner, as full coverage in NZ Life & Leisure is part of the supreme prize package.