Life has come full circle for 25 year-old Northland farmer, Nathan Chestnut who will be throwing open his farm gates to two local primary schools, Kokopu and Maungatapere, in early July.
Approximately 150 primary students are coming onto the farm to help plant 2500 plants along the riparian margins of one of the farm's streams.
Chestnut vividly remembers doing exactly the same thing as an eight year old attending Kokopu Primary, and says it meant a lot as a youngster to get out of the classroom and get his hands dirty with the rest of his class.
It's the kind of experience he wants to repeat for today's young locals as those days working on the land are etched into his memory. "We did the same thing when I was young - heading out to a local farm to do some tree planting. It's the kind of learning that sticks in your mind when you get your hands dirty and learn about the local land and about the ecosystem," he says.
He believes it's also an opportunity for kids who may never have been onto a farm before.
"An issue that affects us here is that town is coming to meet us pretty rapidly. Some of these kids might not actually be from farms and I'm hoping to give them the chance to see what happens on farm and where your food comes from. He says the planting day is not just about riparian planting, its giving young people the opportunity to feel they have made a tangible difference to the environment.
"Every time I drive past the different spots where I planted trees as a youngster, I have a cheeky look to see how they are getting on, a little moment to say I helped plant those'. Being brought up on farm and having land, we have the opportunity to have a real impact on our local environment, whereas people who live in cities don't necessarily have those same opportunities."
"It's a chance for parents, students and teachers to not just drive by on their way to school or work, but for them to swing in and get behind the farm gate."
A big day is planned for the students and Chestnut. Enlisting the help of Fonterra who are putting on a barbecue and fueling up the students with flavoured milk. A planting plan has been drawn up by the Northland Regional Council to ensure the right species are planted in the correct location and their staff, along with Dairy NZ are coming out to spend the day with the students to teach them about the importance of looking after our rivers and ecosystems, says Chestnut.
This is Chestnut's third season managing and is third-generation on the family farm. Now passionate about the agricultural sector, that hadn't always been the case however.
"I went to high school in Auckland and had the love of farming programmed out of me. It's a different perspective when you live in the city. I find there is a disengagement of urban people and where their food comes from and how its produced, particularly with the pastoral systems NZ is renowned for."
"Coming out of high-school I wanted to train as a chemical pharmacologist. It wasn't until I was studying AgriCommerce at Massey that I re-fell in love with farming again. I realised being on the land and working with animals is something special and something I love. Contributing towards feeding people is a pride of point. It means a lot to me to produce food for people both locally and internationally."
"I was aware of some negativity in the press about farming growing up, but ultimately that wasn't a deterring factor to go home and try make a difference. Everyone wants to help the planet but not many people get the chance to actually make a tangible difference."
"As an urbanite the biggest influence available is through consumer behaviour. Farmers however can make a big difference. I'm a young farmer and all I want is produce a quality product and make a real difference as to what our environmental inputs/outputs are."
"A lot of progress has been made in how farms are run over the past generations. There are a lot of changes that are still to come, and its exciting to be on the forefront of that.
If you chuck a few trees in now, you hope they will be around for a few hundred years to come."