I grew up in a rural community near Auckland, New Zealand, before the city became the sprawling metropolis that it is today. I learned the basics of growing by spending many hours helping my grandfather, who had operated market gardens since the 1930s, maintain a small flower market garden he had established in his “retirement”. I attended Auckland University where I studied Economics, but I began to question many of the principles presented to me in my studies. I began dedicating my time to a wide range of activities, including teaching gardening to primary school students, maintaining homestead gardens, managing music groups, a “New Age” record label, and helping to establish the Permaculture Institute of New Zealand. I was fortunate to do some traveling in the 1980s and 90s, spending time in the US, Australia, Ireland and England. Returning to Northland in 1992, I worked alongside Dennis Scott, an innovative designer, landscape architect, and resource management consultant, who works with the principles of ecology-centered design.
In 2000 I turned my focus to the conservation of traditional/heirloom food plants in New Zealand. I spent the last 16 years supporting local and national seed preservation initiatives by practical "growing out" hundreds of seed lines, managing research projects, running internship programmes, and taking on advisory and advocacy roles for this issue with independent & government organizations.
In 2006, I began working for OANZ (Organics Aotearoa, New Zealand) first as part of the design team and later as the national coordinator of a National Organic Advisory Programme that was developed with Government funding. I then left the government environment and, along with teaching privately, I participated in a gardening segment for the Radio New Zealand program “This Way Up” with Simon Morton. After 7 years, the series called “The Veggie iPlot” is still available in the programmes’ collections section.
In 2010 I returned to Northland to create a long-term home for myself, my wife, and five sons. With six years of research and experimentation now completed, investigating from an ecology perspective the essential elements needed (and how to practically work with them!) to guarantee the food we grow is actually nutrient-rich, I am ready to share my results!