Are you interested in taking care of your property in harmony with nature?
Do you want to know how to regenerate your lifestyle property?
Do you love living healthy and close to nature?
Do you ask yourself what would nature do?
Learn more than you expect with garden guide and regenerative lifestyle practitioner, Florence Micoud, in a relaxed afternoon with the gardener atmosphere in the beautiful inspiring garden she is a grateful guardian of.
Contact me 02102792481 for more info or booking. Be in quick, limited space!
In the news at the end of October 2022, lawns being a big contributor to climate change – there was a call to dig up some lawn to plant #trees, save on energy (to mow the lawn), on fertilizers and on water.
To regenerate more, why not plant a veggie patch (to reduce food km), mow just a footpath, grow bee friendly flowers… All adds to biodiversity, reduce carbon use and the noise for the neighbours, specially with an electric ride on lawn mower!
We grow a meadow
Here in the park of our property, once a compacted pasture grazed by horses, the grass has been growing for 15 years. It hasn’t been mowed nor cut nor eaten.
We mow footpaths with our new electric ride on lawnmower. Much more silent than the petrol one, clean and free to run, at the same price. All the mowing is done in one hour on a 2.5 hectares property.
Every winter the grass is drying and flattening. Healthy new grass grows through it in spring and summer. And it breaks down in the winter. It is creating a thick mattress. The land is regenerating.
deep brown rich soil,
absorbing rain and keeping moist in summer,
less work, less energy use, less noise,
more and more insects and skinks therefore birds
We observe that our meadow evolves over time. After 15 years, some patches remain green even in the heat of the summer when every unirrigated land is fawn. It’s beautiful and lush. It is a soft big sponge!
While it clearly absorbs carbon and water, as there is a visible improvement of the soil and biodiversity, we have no data.
The Zirkle study says unmowed uneaten grass can absorb from 25gr to 204gr of carbon per m2 per year, depending on conditions, that’s 40000m2 to 4900m2 to absorb a tonne of Carbon per year. That’s quite significant although still very vague.
I am looking for more information on how much carbon does grass capture when left to grow (not grazed, not mowed), decompose and regrow. Let me know!
We love our grass
Grass growing is a natural process creating an abundant source of matter. So we use it.
We keep a row of tall grass between the flower borders and the footpath: it holds the mulch and leaves what the birds usually scatter. Grass grows and hides the rabbit fences.
Grass is great material to layer the compost, to mulch a small footpath or a plant. By breaking down, it enriches the soil.
Grass is not a threat nor a fight, we don’t control grass. We don’t “weed”!
To clear a grassed area to plant a tree or create a new garden, we cut out and remove the top 5cm, full of roots. Then we loosen the soil and pull more roots. And yes, that’s hard work.
Then grass regrows in competition with our plants, so we pull the roots out which aerates the soil as well. This is caring for our plants, never drudgery. I often thank the blades of couch for pointing in the direction of the roots!
It’s best to use a small tool to pull as much root as possible (specially the dandelion roots, that I clean, dry, roast and grind for my “coffee” – but that’s another post!)
We only pull the shoots we recognise, and observe what grows. Some returning annuals are pleasant surprises.
Mulching generously after cleaning an area limits the regrowth. The thickness of mulch makes it easier to pull the grass out the following time.
The first year we open a garden, we remove the grass regrowth three times, the second and third year a couple of times, then once a year. Overtime, the grass doesn’t grow back much.
I nearly forgot to say we do have lawn around the house! It is nice to sit or lie down. Less than 10% of the land is regularly cut and irrigated. That’s a lot of water saving and reduction in mowing time and noise (and dirty fuel usually but not in our case since our ride-on lawnmower is electric, as all our tools are).
20 times, I walked past the glass house, telling myself “I want to” redevelop it. It was in the too-hard-basketdon’t-know-where-to-start for a while.
Then I set my mind to it, looked at what was needed, researched and got bits. Then I did it, in four or five sessions, helped by my partner ♡ and we now have a clean and lush source of seedlings and joy. Done. Happy.
What happened? I chose to do it. I switched to I-can-do-it, I looked deeper, with a bit of curiosity, adventure and creation, one step at a time, it was easy. And fun.
Quite an ordinary experience, isn’t it? We know how to do new stuff, we do it all the time. All change, small or big, starts with a conscious choice, a decision, a mindshift.
For the big challenge of climate change, we need is a mindshift too. And it’s happening. TVNZ has started a Climate Special programme, showcasing solutions and opportunities. They said 51% of people don’t know what to do. Here it is:
Start with a mindshift
Shift to NOW, not in 2030. In my case, I have chosen sustainability and regeneration for a long time. I don’t wait for a law that forces us to do it. Whatever carbon I don’t use now, is not in the atmosphere. Over the years, that’s a lot of carbon that I haven’t added in the atmosphere.
Wean yourself off fossil fuels
I switch to electric vehicles and tools, solar panels, local food, renewable energy provider, I divest…
In what I buy, in what I do, I look for carbon and embedded carbon (eg. plastic, chemicals, kilometres, waste) and find the best I can, or stop altogether.
I chose nature a long time ago. I defend nature, enhance nature (plant trees, foster biodiversity…), mimic nature. I align with nature, I slow down, it’s relaxing. Forest bathing is now a thing, it changes us, it is our nature. I convey the experience within Beautiful Gardens of Wānaka guided garden tours, admiring and immersing in nature. Knowing nature better to care for her better. And for everyone to enjoy connecting with nature, I am advocating for Biodiversity and Community enhancing Parks and Corridors. It’s an elegant solution to many local issues and it is getting traction.
I value nature more than money. In our society still very much based on monetary value, it’s a big mindshift. From “I want/I need more/fear of lacking” to “I have enough“, simplicity, contentement. I can’t think of something that has more value than an old tree, or a forest, it can’t be bought, it can’t be replaced. I take all my decisions on how it will impact nature, not how much it costs.
In short, I care.
I care for my garden, feeling in gratitude for being a guardian of this beautiful part of Papatuanuku.
I care for the planet and all its beings, and specially trees. I love trees -but that will be another post.
And I care for myself. Because this is where I have most effect. I choose what I eat; Food that is good for us and for the planet is one of the major solutions of the climate crisis (this food subject also deserves an entire post). I choose what I drink, what I put on my skin, what I wear… I choose as local, natural and least transformed as possible. I care for my mental health, I breathe, I exercise, in nature, in the garden. I become aware, conscious and this is a big mindshift, always work in progress!
I stopped saying it’s difficult: this stops me from trying! Instead, I tell myself it IS easy and I find a way.
I stopped blaming others, the council, the media… Instead, I ask myself: “How can I help?” and I take responsibility, I connect and inform as best as I can. It is a humbling exercise in vulnerability.
I stopped saying “I will.., I can’t, they should…” Instead, I create the world I envision. I do. It is very empowering, creative, fun, beautiful.
I choose to care for the planet, the community and life now, in all ways and to contribute to the regenerative culture shift.
Enough talking, next post will be about grassroots. Literally grass roots!
Courage comes from the french word Coeur : Heart. Care.
I have plenty of it and I begin sharing publicly my experience of regenerative lifestyle.
I have the privilege to share the guardianship of a piece of land on heavenly Mother Earth and have the joy to foster its regeneration. Sharing how we do it is a pillar of this blog.
“How can I be helpful?” was the prompt for Paul Hawken career.
“Focus on what we can do, what we care about, that’s all you can do, that’s sufficient“. He added. This made it for me!
I care a lot for nature, for the trees.
No time, nor pretexte (“not good enough”, “who am I to give advice?”!), nor need to wait to create a beautiful regenerated world, safe and abundant for everyone, every being, and that includes the trees. And all the living beings.
Having a lot of knowledge and experience, I here now show leadership and passion, I allow my view of the world to shine, in a loving and compassionate, positive and practical way. And hopefully fun, I certainly enjoy it. Curiosity, open to change, openness, connectedness.
Paul Hawken explains: Let’s start by connecting with nature and the living world. Slow down. Go outside. We are living organisms. Interconnection with nature will change us. Once we realise we are part of nature, we have faith in nature and healing, we are empowered,. Regeneration is within us. So let’s go (back) to our true nature and align with life (again). It’s easy, it’s the flow. It’s being in love with all, and with the living world.
More inspiration from Paul Hawken coming soon, follow the blog to stay tuned. It’s starting and it feels good.
Open letter to Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw. Sent 30th September 2022
I admire what you do and leadership style and I am inviting you to take strong policies to de-intensify diary industry, we know methane is a huge problem, we know water quality is proportionally inverse to cow presence, we know fertilizers not only pollute persistently but also require humongous amounts of energy to make.
Knowing all that and continuing to do it is criminal in our times of climate emergency.
I am doing my bit for my business, our lifestyle and property to be carbon neutral https://beautifulgardenswanaka.com/2022/07/07/carbon-zero-now/ and I am advocating for everyone to do their bit now in any way at their level as part of my business “regenerative Thursday”, 20% of my working week is dedicated to regeneration.
I am asking you to do your bit at your level that is take strong action to mitigate climate change and I see some awesome progress (eg. phasing out coal boilers, EV car rebate etc.)
But I have seen the government backing off the dairy emissions repeatedly and this is no longer acceptable, everybody knows it’s a major problem in NZ, not doing it makes everyone say their impact is a drop compared to it so it hampers all efforts.
As you know, solutions exist and all that is required is choosing to change. Resisting to change is creating more climate change, change there must be.
Change towards regenerative and environmentally friendly agriculture is a great opportunity for NZ dairy to make a difference for their own productivity. I urge you to step up and help farmers understand and implement this, from now on.
Some policies are not popular when they are written, yet everyone adapts really fast when it’s done well, with good positive communication and financial and online support as your government has been good at doing during the COVID crisis, when you supported us all very well.
People grumble and resist to change but being Kiwis, we adjust easily. I’m thinking of the plastic bag ban from supermarkets (which I have been advocating for years, not using any single use plastic with no inconvenience), it took years to come but then, tick done, thank you. Easy.
So yes please, be strong, stand up to reluctant dairy farmers and big chemical industry, and create strong laws to make New Zealand carbon neutral, everyone will eventually thank you for it.
I am open to helping and giving more details as required.
Wishing you good luck, and sending all my heartfelt support.
If a poor country did it, I hope your government can do it too.
I am doing my part at my level, personal growth, the land we are gratefully guardian of, and Regenerative action in my community (eg. the Regenerative Wānaka Facebook page).
All the best,
ANSWER on the 3rd November 2022
I am writing on behalf of the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, to acknowledge your email of 29 October 2022. Please be assured your comments have been noted.
As the issue you have raised falls within the portfolio responsibilities of the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor, your email has been forwarded to the Minister’s office for his information.
I am a regular listener and watcher and appreciate your programmes. Thank you.
I am asking you, the media, to continue to expand on the Cop26. There was lots of coverage during the summit about the necessity and urgency to act to restore the climate, and then it flopped when the media said the governments were not doing enough. Yes the governments must act faster, and everyone of us, at all levels must do our bit. We changed overnight for COVID, it shows we can change overnight to regenerate the planet and improve our lives too.
I am sharing a vision of regeneration where each of us, our society and our environment rebound from climate change, Covid-19 and social crises.
Simply, regeneration is improving what we have and removing fossil fuels from our lives.
So what can each of us do?
We can all choose to adapt, to change, let’s do this together, each of us at our level, at home, at work, organisations, businesses, local and central government.
Each of us can ask ourselves: “What am I doing for the climate right now?” Each of us can look around and see what uses/contains fossil fuel and choose to stop buying/using it.
Let’s learn to live carbon-zero or regeneratively, solutions exist, it’s inspiring, creative, good for wellbeing giving us a sense of power in our destiny and I know how Kiwis like a good challenge! It’s exciting, joyful.
Please, everyday in the news, help visualise a green sustainable world, of what each of us can do, in our house, at our table, in our garden and beyond, by telling the story of the many initiatives, sharing knowledge (lifehacks!) about sustainable/climate friendly/healthy/biodiversity and community enhancing. You could add a fun presentation of a practical tip for each of us to do, right now, a future-proof action/tip of the day. The food we eat, the way we keep healthy and safe in our homes, the way we travel, all can be carbon-heavy or carbon-light. For example showing on TV the difference of carbon content between a local produce grown with compost and a processed food in plastic packaging coming from Australia via Italy, do you see the impact? When everyday, we buy this food or that food just adds up to a big difference. When a prize is offered for a competition, choose a regenerative idea: an electric car, a kit to grow your own food, a bokashi set, a sailing trip (not a jetboat or helicopter ride!), I have many more ideas, just ask!
Yes the media do quite a few good little docos, Country Calendar shows many regenerative pesticide free farms. A lot more needs to happen, every day, a regular section, simply use the same time or place allocated to Cop26 in the news, or create a feature like Beat that in the Project, fun and compassionate as you, NZ Media, are good at doing, and add the practical future-proof action/tip/lifehack of the day. We hear sport news everyday, at every news, don’t we? Is it essential to life? I am sure you can find a space to broadcast life-essential news too. You will learn a lot on the way as well, it’s interesting and empowering.
So what am I doing at my level (beyond asking you to do something)?
In my household, I am committed to reduce our packaging further. I always choose paper/cardboard packaging, there are many easy swaps. I am phoning all the companies of the few packaged products we still buy, to check how recyclable/compostable they are. If they are not, I stop buying them. I had to replace my favourite tea!
For our property, we have now stopped buying petrol to power our powertools, they are now all electric and charged by our solar panels. Our new electric ride on lawnmower is great, much more silent than the petrol one, clean and free to run, and at a similar price. Why are people still buying petrol ones? Because they don’t know. Medias need to tell this to people.
In my business, as well as reducing my own carbon footprint (eg. Hybrid van), I share how to garden without chemicals. Beyond saying “Round up is potentially dangerous”, I show my guests how to manage “weeds” without weedkillers. I share many other practical ways of living in harmony with nature.
In my community, I hold and share a vision of a regenerative district where landowners are supported by the council to restore biodiversity and improve wellbeing for all on a part of their land. It covers all 17 UN sustainable development goals, land, biodiversity and water improvement, equality/resilience with public access and local food production. It is progressing.
We always plant trees (already 6 this year) to absorb carbon our life still creates.
And so on, caring for ourselves, caring for our people, and caring for our planet. It all is simple and makes a huge difference for us, the land and the people around us.
While some people feel helpless in the face of the planet’s dismay, a zero-carbon regenerative life is self-evident for many long term pioneers.
I know many people living a low or zero carbon life and regenerating the land. Their stories can be told, their knowledge can be shared.
The Drawdown is a good source of ideas, it describes and ranks the solutions to draw carbon back down into the earth crust, which inspired the 2040 movie.
Many young talented people are ready to make cool docos, they have learnt problems and solutions at school, they are the solution generation. Media could employ them when creating new series, from lifehack clips to regular programmes eg. Fair Go.
There are lots of knowledge and practitioners around and I’m happy to give you more references or theme ideas to help our nation shift to regenerating our world, becoming kaitiaki.
Artichoke flower: beautiful and full of bees
Wherever people are in their carbon-free/resilience/ sustainable/ wellbeing journey, they can choose to start now and change. If everyone would live a low-carbon life like us, it would make a global difference and the planet would have a chance to stay below 1.5 degrees average temperature increase.
A big caring campaign, and nec minute, we are creating a beautiful sustainable inclusive fair and safe world, full of trees, and down chorus. Creativity, resilience, sharing, slow-down, consume-less, calming, and fun! It’s possible, simple and we can start now. Why wait?
Soon the world will look again at a compassionate, beautiful and sustainable Aotearoa New Zealand, we can do it.
Think about it this weekend: Look how much embedded oil is around you? What can you actually do?
I thank you for reading and hope it will inspire you.
After years of learning, volunteering, practicing and talking about improving sustainability, I felt I needed to accelerate change. And I knew how to! Just discard diffidence and reach out. I hear a few of you thinking “at long last”! And the timing is perfect with climate issues becoming mainstream, at long last too.
By helping with certification, sustainability communication and education, etc.
Visit the website, like the facebook page or contact me if you want to know more, to give feedback or know someone who needs help, in the Wanaka, Queenstown, Cromwell and Alexandra and everywhere in the area.
Lawns certainly have an aesthetic and social value and sometimes are a great play area. Closely cut green grass used for landscaping or leisure, lawns were historically created by wealthy people who could keep unproductive spaces. With the invention of lawn mowers, lawns spread and became a standard feature of suburbia. Lawns maintenance necessitates high inputs not only in fertilizers and pesticides, but also in natural resources like water and petrol to mow it. And they don’t hold any wildlife. To me, they reflect the man’s desire to control nature.
I think growing vegetables is a more productive way to use that space therefore we progressively dig up our lawn. Advantages are many:
We transform wasted areas in productive and beautiful spaces.
We produce pesticides free veges, delicious and fresh from the garden, with zero food-kilometres and nearly for free. In her New Zealand footprint project, Ella Lawton has demonstrated that food and beverage makes up 56% of the total New Zealand footprint. The most efficient way to reduce our footprint is to produce half of our own food in our backyard, or at least eat locally grown food (page 27). It is slightly more efficient than becoming vegetarian.
We take fresh air, build up muscles, stretch and burn calories. Gardening is good for our bodies.
When out in the garden, we hear birds and smell flowers, we connect with the slow pace of nature, reducing stress while providing a deeply meaningful and rewarding activity. Gardening is good for our minds.
Yes for a successful harvest, we need a lot of knowledge. It’s been built over the years, thanks to Dad, Terre Vivante where I worked for 7 years, Organic NZ, Dr Compost, permaculturists and friends’ wisdom. We also need seeds, also collected over the years and thanks to exchanges with friends or community swaps.
I’ve proudly added a Robert Guyton‘s Green Man sticker on my letter box and I am keeping an eye out for it in my community.
One advice: start small and expand over time. Now is a great time!
It’s been for a long time on my mind, so when in August we got a family tax credit lump sum, we decided to invest it in a good petrol-saving family car. Studying the market showed that the Prius is very reliable and cheap to run and maintain.
It comes in 3 generations (now in 4 but I did not look at the latest at all – not my price range).
The first version until 2004, was revolutionary but is oldish now.
The 2nd version 2004-2009 is super efficient – the best on the hybrid market by far.
The 3rd version is as efficient as the previous Prius and it is larger. I can’t afford a car that recent and I don’t really need larger.
There are plenty of 2009 Prius cars on TradeMe. I found one that had only 82,000km and costs NZ$12,000 (delivery to my door included).
It arrived on a beautiful day and was not easy to start (a combination of foot and button press is required and all explanation is in Japanese). It was quite hilarious to have a new car that could not start and we had to take the truck transporting it to the garage!
Then I loved it. It is smooth and easy, it has an excellent handling, fun to drive. It is near silent while having a good sound system, making trips a pleasure. There is absolutely no change when the engine kicks in or stops. Seamless.
And, yes, it has an amazing low petrol consumption. So much that I forget to refill it! It has a display showing how many kilometers you can drive with 1 litre of petrol and if/when the battery get refilled or feeds the engine. I think it is quite a mind shift to count in km per litres, instead of the usual litres per 100 km. When it says I can only go 2 km away with one litre, it’s quite an incentive to stop accelerating. On average, with my main use being short distances in town, a full tank goes more than 850 km.
In average on the first 1,000 km the car drove 21.3 km per litre. The next 1,000 km, it managed 23.4 km per litres. Just changing the way I drive. An evening when streets were empty, I managed to cross the town only on the battery at about 40km /h. Yet, when there are cars behind me, I make a point of accelerating as required so that they don’t think my hybrid car is useless! It does have an excellent acceleration which consumes quite some petrol. Going uphill too, it can be quite fast, using energy accordingly. Which reminds me, all cars do use a lot of energy going uphill or in acceleration but they don’t have the screen to tell you so it’s easier to forget.
Since I have it, I’ve heard positive and envious comments and also denial ones. I was told that changing batteries cost a fortune yet found out that batteries are designed to live the car lifetime so exceptionally need to be changed. I was told it takes more than a normal car to build and dispose. That’s wrong, Toyota makes a point of having this right too.
When I see my petrol bill, I simply wonder why everyone does not have one. So go for it!