We have had an amazing week. Believe it or not, more surprises to do with flying.
Early last week Matthew got an email from the Air New Zealand Environmental Trust inviting "influential bloggers" to attend a day at the Mangarara Station in Hawkes Bay to see their tree-planting work at "the family farm". Check them out online, they are great.
When we landed we met seven others, including David Farrar from kiwiblog, Carlin Archer of Ecobob fame, and Ruud Kleinpaste, the "Bugman".
The farmers, Greg and Rachel, are trying their best to run a productive and sustainable farm. It's a gorgeous spot with a lake and one of the last stands of mature native forest in Hawkes Bay.
They approached Air New Zealand Environment Trust for funding to help plant more than 40ha in natives, with the intention of the future forest being used for carbon sequestration and as part of a "migration corridor" for birds and bugs between national parks. Greg and Rachel also see trees as just common sense for the future of farming: making use of marginal, dry land; improving water quality; providing shade for stock and nurturing biodiversity.
When we embarked on our tour of the farm we took buckets with us. I wondered why, until I saw how dry everything was. Hawkes Bay is currently undergoing its worst drought since 1914, and some of the seedlings are succumbing - others though are impressively hardy.
Journeying back and forth from the lake with my bucket to the needy ones made me appreciate the huge task of initiating a forest; it also somehow filled me with hope, because while we were putting energy into living rubbish free, someone else is putting energy into biodiversity and carbon sequestration.
I tapped into that elusive power of the "disassembled crowd". I came up with this phrase a few years ago when pondering the irony of how each one, when isolated, can feel unable to make a difference, yet if each one were to come together, an immense, powerful and energetic crowd would result.
The irony is that the feeling of power is largely symbolic when people stand around together in a crowd, and activated when the crowd disassembles and gets into whatever it is they do. So whether your thing is planting trees, organics, websites, parenting, energy, education, media, fair trade or buying local, the trick is to imagine yourself as part of this powerful disassembled crowd. Spending the day with these seedlings and other inspiring, tenacious individuals was a great reminder.
The Air New Zealand Environmental Trust has been set up as an independent entity with funding guaranteed by Air NZ for the next three years. Basically, when you book a flight online you have the opportunity to either offset your carbon footprint the traditional way - in which a calculation is made as to how much carbon your flight will create, thereby providing you with an amount to donate through a Government scheme connected to windfarms - or to donate to the Air NZ Environmental Trust, whose first project is supporting Greg and Rachel's forest regeneration.
The resulting forest will be protected by covenant, and the public will have access to it.
There were so many neat things about the day. I milked the opportunity to talk to Ruud about why there aren't any native birds in our garden yet, despite the native trees. Not surprisingly he said that bugs were important and also explained how important organic matter is.
I now have plans to get hold of as much organic matter as possible, leaves, seaweed, etc. I can't wait to see what will happen.
Yes, Air New Zealand did make a donation to the trust to offset our flights for the day.
Now that I know, I am going to make a donation for my escapade to Timaru last weekend.