Episode 8: The Good Earth
On the next episode, screening 23 May 2015 at 7pm on TV ONE:
The Good Earth
Everyone’s expected to work on the Hawkes Bay lifestyle block of Nicole Masters and Earle Grant – even the animals.
“The pigs are essential to our property – these guys can make compost like nobody else,” Nicole says. “We set them loose in our big piles of wood chips and they turn it over. They make beautiful compost. It really is the elixir of life for our farm, it’s just gold.”
Earle Grant says the pigs do the work of machines. “We use the pigs as our tractor. They eat the woodchips and they process them.”
Once processed, the compost is spread over the paddocks of their 24-hectare property near Waipukurau. ‘We’ve been doing it for three years, and it’s made a huge difference to the quality of the soil,” Nicole says.
Their free-range chickens also do their bit. “They’re contributing to the nitrogen cycle and to recycling. They’re scratching in the cowpats getting those maggots. It’s part of their protein source.”
Nicole and Earle aim to farm as naturally as possible, and practice what they call biological farming.
“People ask me if I’m organic,” Nicole says. “We’re not organic. Organic really is a certification process based on what not to do. We’re biological farmers, it’s based on what can you do, it’s all about soil health and producing better quality food.”
Besides running the farm with Earle and her 13-year-old son, Bryn, Nicole makes her living as a soil consultant. She runs workshops for farmers, and she says it’s essential for them to understand their soil.
“I work with people who’ve never dug a hole! We need to know what’s going on down there. Soils are everything, the basis of nutrition, the health of our waterways. I think of a good healthy soil as being like chocolate cake – moist, crumbly, and dark.”
She became fascinated with soil while studying ecology at Otago University. “People think soil is a dry boring subject, but I find it so exciting. The question for me is, ‘Why isn’t everyone a soil scientist!’ Soil is like the new frontier, every year there’re new discoveries.”
Nicole travels to the United States and Australia to spread the healthy soil message. “People come up to me years later and say how much they learned and that it changed their lives. I just want to connect people with something that’s so important.”
For more about Nicole’s work or to read her blog, visit: http://integritysoils.co.nz
For more about biological farming, visit: www.carbonfarming.org.nz
Te Rurehe Paki
Post Production Manager