Muri­wai Val­ley Farm is one of the flag­ship sites, demon­strat­ing best- prac­tice.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature -

North­land Bi­o­log­i­cal Farm­ing Group and is also in­volved in a num­ber of other groups with in­ter­ests in sus­tain­able farm­ing and food. The IKHMG (In­te­grated Kaipara Har­bour Man­age­ment Group) is one of them. Muri­wai Val­ley Farm is one of their flag­ship sites which helps to demon­strate sus­tain­able best-prac­tice that mit­i­gates con­tam­i­nants en­ter­ing the Kaipara Har­bour.

She works with Lo­cal Food North­land too, which runs the ex­cel­lent farm­ers’ mar­kets in Whangarei, and a lo­cal food co-op that has been go­ing for a cou­ple of years. She’s also in­volved in the mo­bile abat­toir ini­tia­tive.

Un­til this is up and run­ning, she’s de­cided to put more of her ef­forts into get­ting the mes­sage out there through farm con­sul­tancy.

Bev is go­ing back to her roots with con­sult­ing. Her UK back­ground is in ecol­ogy, in par­tic­u­lar, com­bin­ing it with bi­o­log­i­cal farm­ing meth­ods. Af­ter 20 years in New Zealand, she’s well versed in na­tive flora and fauna, so can help peo­ple get the best from their farm through land, livestock and soil man­age­ment, and help to pro­vide a haven for wildlife.

Bev and Dave walk the talk in many other ways at Muri­wai Val­ley Farm. They both drive elec­tric cars, and so­lar power is widely used on the farm. They have charm­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion for WWOOFERS, or those want­ing to be ed­u­cated in the ways of bi­o­log­i­cal farm­ing. They’ve planted many thou­sands of na­tive trees and fenced off bush and wet­lands.

Ex­cit­ing – and im­mi­nent – plans in­clude sub­di­vid­ing an area of the farm into six free­hold lots of 1-2ha (2.5-5 acres)

and sell­ing to like-minded peo­ple.

“We’re think­ing that who­ever buys the blocks of land would have the op­tion to be in­volved to what­ever level works for them, hope­fully with a shared vi­sion of sus­tain­able coun­try liv­ing,” says Bev.

Bev and Dave have built a kind of ‘show home’ which is fully off-grid, as all the houses would have to be as part of the coun­cil con­sent. They’ll even­tu­ally have an elec­tric charg­ing sta­tion for cars too. Buy­ers will build their own homes on eco­log­i­cal prin­ci­ples in this beau­ti­ful en­vi­ron­ment and will hope­fully bring some type of add-on en­ter­prise too, like a mar­ket gar­den or or­chard (to aug­ment the ex­ist­ing food for­est), or per­haps freerange ta­ble ducks, or hens for eggs.

Bev has just planted 4ha (10 acres) of high-umf manuka, so bees will def­i­nitely be part of the com­mu­nity’s fu­ture too.

“There’s po­ten­tially so much to gain in a good syn­er­gis­tic group,” says Bev. “You don’t need to be an ex­pe­ri­enced farmer, just be keen! And there may be other roles – mar­ket­ing per­haps – which could work.” But pet lovers be­ware. “No cats!” stip­u­lates Bev. Na­tive fauna will be fiercely pro­tected.

Bev’s work is im­pres­sive, and that hasn’t gone un­no­ticed. At the Bal­lance Farm En­vi­ron­ment Awards in March, she won three out of nine awards: the Beef & Lamb NZ Livestock award, the Auck­land Coun­cil Wa­ter Qual­ity En­hance­ment Award, and the Massey Univer­sity In­no­va­tion Award. It’s a hugely re­ward­ing re­sult for an ex­cep­tional farmer with an in­spir­ing vi­sion.

Bev and Dave have built an off-grid ‘show home’ as part of their fu­ture plans to sub­di­vide part of the farm for like-minded peo­ple.

There’s po­ten­tially so much to gain in a good syn­er­gis­tic group.

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