John King. Photo by Sally Rae.
The only people who should be making decisions about the land
are the people managing it.
That is the belief of John King, a certified holistic
management educator who brings a "whole systems" approach to
Mr King was guest speaker at a sustainable farm-management
workshop hosted by the Under the Kakanuis Women in Farming
Group at Papakaio last week.
He runs a course in sustainable farm management through the
Biological Husbandry Unit Organic Training College at Lincoln
University and also runs his own training courses.
The best part of the job was heading to small, rural areas,
such as Papakaio, to talk to people who were "passionate
about doing something different".
It was about using the environment to lower farm production
costs and lift farm profitability, helping farmers "get
Raised on a farm near Winton, Mr King has a master' degree in
agricultural science from Lincoln University.
He had travelled extensively and spent times in parts of the
world where farming was "difficult".
What he saw in those areas was people developing the courage
to make some changes and then seeing the response of that.
He challenged those attending the workshop on how to go about
generating the courage to "try something different".
That included the importance of the people with whom you
surrounded yourself. He encouraged sticking together "as a
group" and supporting each other.
Observations were very important and also knowing when to
follow through on those observations.
He urged farmers to look at their own properties - "How many
farmers get out and walk their paddocks?" - saying it was
about getting back to some common sense.
"We've got so hyped up on how we should be performing as
farming professionals ... we're forgetting the basics. We
need to be able to get back to that real common-sense stuff,
about being local and focusing on what's on your patch of
land," he said.
A skill that had been lost was the ability "to look at the
landscape and understand what it's telling us".
By reaching for the shelf, people had disconnected from what
they were actually doing, he said.
He was keen to hold further courses in North Otago.