Interest in sustainable living has been increasing steadily over recent years as concerns over climate change have skyrocketed. Now the corona-crisis has served as a catalyst to persuade more folk of the importance of at least a basic level of self-sufficiency and many are seeking the skills required to achieve it. Perched atop of South Island, in Takaka, the Golden Bay Sustainable Living Centre has got it covered with a full range of courses and workshops, most notably the 10-week Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course held twice yearly, in spring and autumn.
“The Ministry for Primary Industries identified Golden Bay as the perfect place to be the sustainable region of New Zealand,” says course coordinator, Zahra Lightway. “As a student in our Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course, you could be a part of, and witness to, an ongoing adventure to make our region reach its full potential as an example to the country and the world all while building the skills you need to create your own sustainable lifestyle anywhere.”
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The centre partners with a couple of local outfits also with some serious eco-credentials. First up, Tiny Lifestyle build “small, healthy spaces” using sustainable materials and traditional building techniques.
“All our timber comes from across the top of South Island, within 100km of our workshop,” says Zahra. “We work closely with suppliers to make sure we choose local, sustainable, non-toxic materials, and have a transparent supply chain that supports us all to make environmentally conscious choices. As well as building stunning structures, we run week long Traditional Timber Framing Joinery courses from our off-grid woodland workshop, teaching people how to create their own natural shelters, enabling greater resilience and self sufficiency in their lives.”
The second company, Golden Bay Dolomite, are makers of the nation’s “finest magnesium fertiliser”. Dolomite also hosts its own agricultural courses concerning the Albrecht system, a type of soil management that better balances the mineral content and enhances the fertility of the top-soil—the aerobic zone where the plants feed. For the past 10 years, Dolomite boss, Merv Solly, has invited revered US agronomist Neal Kinsey over to New Zealand to oversee the workshops. These philosophies are harnessed and taught by the Golden Bay Sustainable Living Centre too.
“Golden Bay Dolomite provides support for the Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course, financially and by providing tuition for students about the practical application of the Albrecht system on a farm,” says Merv.
The 10-week course comprises a “compelling menu of hands-on, experimental learning modules”, that involves working, as part of a group , with a real client to complete a full permaculture design of their property; and completing a personal project that utilises those new skills. An International Permaculture Design Certificate is awarded at the end.
“Course participants will enjoy super healthy, organic lunches, lots of fun, and some of the best learning needed to survive and thrive in the 21st century,” says Sol Morgan, organic growing tutor and Chair of Te Whare Rangi Trust, which runs the centre. “Along with the personal support required to get the very best visitor experience in the magical Golden Bay.”
As well as getting their green fingers dirty, students can expect to learn about food preparation and preserving, natural building, project management, and sustainable business techniques.
“There is a wealth of fascinating setups within Golden Bay, including a 30-year-old intentional community and famous local eatery and music venue that embodies sustainable practices,” says Zahra. “You will visit them to hear the stories of these conscious, local businesses, and experience first-hand how they work. Come join us and be part of our history!”