Aotearoa Retreat Centre Project
An inspiring story about local native plant grower, Meret Weiss and how she worked with local children to grow their own seedlings and plant a riparian strip on the farm.
A year and a half ago, Meret Weiss, founder of native tree nursery OkGrow , invited children from Collingwood Area School, where her own three children are pupils, to plant some seeds. Just a few weeks ago, those same children came to plant a riparian strip along the Onekaka river, which flows through part of the farm, with the 18 month old seedlings - a mixture of native grasses, flaxes, shrubs and trees. The children grabbed spades and got stuck in with digging holes (the ground was pretty rocky so this was sometimes a big challenge!) and then they labelled their trees so they can come back and find them in future. With a few willing parents, we managed to plant 130 seedlings before we had morning tea and then finished with a few games of ‘name the native tree tag’ on the paddocks.
The Onekaka river is special for many reasons. It is home to some of the highest densities and diversities of local fish in New Zealand and the health of the estuary it flows into depends on the health of it’s waters. One of the ways in which we can protect waterways on farms is through riparian planting.
We are so thrilled to have Meret as a neighbour - she has been a great support and source of knowledge on local soils and what grows well where. With her learning from her many years as a passionate grower, and a background in horticulture and nursery production, she holds a wealth of local knowledge and experience. It’s also quite contagious to feel her passion and joy when she talks of seeing water ways transformed following wetland planting, and witnessing the return to health of ecosystems. By growing the plants which will help restore our streams and waterways, Meret makes an amazing contribution for us today and for future generations.
She also holds an awareness and respect for local māori tikanga around plants. You can probably see why we see her as a treasure, and we really value her involvement in the farm project.
Huge thanks goes out to Meret, the teachers and pupils at Collingwood Area school, and the parents who came along that day.