Planting trees, one metre at a time
The Million Metres Stream Project has a goal to collectively fund a million metres (or 1000 kilometres) of tree planting along stream banks around New Zealand through crowdfunding.
Anyone can support a project somewhere in New Zealand by funding the trees for a metre of planting along a stream. The project you support receives the funds and plants the trees the next winter, and the group keeps you updated on your project’s progress.
The project is a collaboration between the Sustainable Business Network and Enspiral (a NZ social entrepreneurs group) and is supported by the Department of Conservation.
Anyone with a waterway on their property can apply, but there are conditions.
Our little village extends from the harbour’s edge up to the top of the nearest ridgeline which is blanketed in a mix of native bush and a few pine plantations.
Beyond the top of the ridge, the harbour view disappears, and the outlook is more trees with the odd patch of pasture from various blocks left over from either the land settlement of returned soldiers after WW2, or struggling farmers going broke and chopping off small parcels for alternative lifestylers back in the 1970s.
There is a broad mix of inhabitants in the area now: former hippies now collecting their superannuation; young couples wanting out of the big cities; and plenty of people who just came and stayed because they love the area and the community.
Meredith had been living over the hill for years. She had no doubt been quite something back in the ‘60s and was probably not averse to illegal substances even now. But she was also an older woman struggling on a small block with all the chores that maintaining land, house and animals involves.
It was bad news when her little Timor pony turned up at the back door looking for his morning snack with one eye severely damaged and blood streaking his face and chest.
Actually, he was not hers. He belonged to one of her sons, who had bought the pony on a whim for his own daughter. But as the years went by, the son and his family had returned to the city for work and education and the pony had been farmed out with grandma.
When she rang the Vet it was for a ‘put down’. Meredith saw no future for a one-eyed horse, and she could not afford any surgery. A painless euthanase seemed inevitable.
The Vet and I drove out there and had a look. The pony was a fluffy little white Timor, barely 12 hands high with black hooves, dark eyelashes and nose. Sensible in a white horse, so he was unlikely to suffer sunburn and skin cancers. He appeared to be about 12 years old.
The offending eye was a mess. Goodness knows how he had done it. Perhaps galloping in under the old macrocarpas behind the house where the branches swooped down but had been nibbled off by cattle over the years, leaving spikey twigs poking outwards at about horse head height. Or he could have stumbled and slipped onto some of the manuka stems where someone had been clearing back a bit of scrub regrowth.
But whatever the cause, he was damaged now and the eye was not repairable.
“We can take the eye out,” the Vet told Meredith. “I’ve done it on plenty of dogs, and a few cancer eye cows. Never on a horse before, but it shouldn’t be too different.”
But when he mentioned the cost, Meredith was adamant. She could not afford it and she wasn’t sure she wanted a one-eyed horse around anyway. The grandkids didn’t ride him now and hardly ever visited. No, the horse would have to go.
But the Vet prefers the business of fixing animals rather than killing them so he asked if Meredith would relinquish the pony if we could find it a new home.
“Sure. Whatever is best. I just can’t do it myself,” she said.
The Vet had a cunning plan. There was a new tribe of kids boosting the local school roll, a large family that had moved north for its milder climate and a taste of a good country upbringing. We went back to the car for a phone and tracked them down straight away.
Simone was a delightful woman with some distant European ancestry of darkeyed gypsy and with a heap of kids to
Small Farming Certificate, 12 or so bitesized chunks of learning that fitted into nap times. It was a good primer and helped me map out a path for our block.
As soon as I sit at my desk or on the sofa, my two leap on me and there’s no rest. But if I’m in the kitchen, standing up and pottering about, they often come to join in or find something to do, and this has given me the freedom to bake bread, make (simple) cheeses, perfect my lemon cheese and preserve fruit. Some of my rural skills are developing. It’s also probably what got me into this fine mess in the first place.
One of the best things we did was stop mowing the back paddock. We’d noticed lots of seedlings spreading from the nearby stand of manuka on a neighbour’s property. The native bush is regenerating nicely now and I’ve just planted around a dozen native plants and trees on the fringe of the back paddock in the hope that the birds will spread the seeds and contribute to greater biodiversity.
By neglecting my vege garden, I’ve learnt that: • kale and silverbeet plants will keep producing for three or more seasons; • bolted parsley will re-pay you with a fine bed of self-sown plants next year; • potatoes store well underground for over a year; • cape gooseberries will keep producing all year round with no input; We’d love to hear about your property and its animals, your projects, your life’s moments. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you wish to include images, please send high resolution jpegs.