I cannot believe we have been in New Zealand for over two weeks now, the time has flown by and we’ve learned so much! I am very excited to be staying at the Hart Family Farm for the next five days. It is absolutely gorgeous, the rolling hills are endless and the feeling of bliss hasn’t left my body since we arrived.
One of my favorite things about the daily life here in New Zealand is the interaction between humans and nature. Personally, I value relationship building from a person to person stand point but I have never thought about building that relationship with nature. I have noticed that all of the housing accommodations we have had thus far have been extremely open to the outside. For example, there is always an outside seating option for dining, a deck of some sort with tables and chairs and more obviously the architecture is more inviting to the outdoors than say my house back home. It was made very clear throughout our stay at the Kokari (the Maori community center we had the opportunity to stay at) that the Maori people walk alongside nature and value it to the point of having a significant relationship with the mountains or bodies of water from which they call home. Being surrounded by a culture that embraces nature so much encourages us wayfinders to do the same. Without question the shoes and sunglasses came off to feel and see what nature really is. I am now beginning to understand that my breath and the breath of nature are indeed synchronized.
I have never felt any type of connection with nature until now, especially now that we’ve come the Hart’s farm. I started off early on the Hart Family Farm. Since the minute we got here I’ve tried to have my hand in everything, from watching sheep get scanned, herding cattle, feeding ducks, chickens, and pigs, pruning trees, digging out thistles, to just simply enjoying my walk along their 1,500 acre farm. I’ve never been more willing to roll up my sleeves and get dirty.
I am loving the physical activity that comes with staying on this farm. At home I too easily get distracted with school, social media and of course TV, to take time and be active. Back in my prime (High school of course), intensive physical activity was a part of my daily life but now I am lucky if I make it to the gym once a week. However, I really enjoy the purposeful physical labor we have been doing this week. How cool is it that we are taking part in the overall health of all of the farm that is feeding us for the week? I think it’s pretty dang cool!
New Zealand has also opened my eyes to a more sustainable lifestyle. Everywhere we have gone has a compost bin, much of the water is collected by rain water, heating and cooling systems are limited and there are many local organizations promoting things like Plastic Bag Free Raglan and permaculture living habits. The Hart farm also promotes this type of interaction with nature. One of the things that interests me most is practicing permaculture. The Hart’s grow and produce most of their own food: fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, eggs, milk, meat, (you name it) and the best part is, they don’t fake it. I’ve watched many documentaries surrounding the subject of mass food production, Food Inc, What the Health, etc. and it’s insane to see the living conditions of some of the animals we are putting into our bodies. It is very uplifting to see farmers like the Harts dedicating a big part of their lives to managing hundreds of healthy animals for themselves and others to enjoy. After a couple of days on the farm I’ve really enjoyed watching the cattle and chickens roam around as they please in the heaps of space they’re given compared to the jam packed corporate-run buildings where the animals are dying from being so tightly packed. In addition to this I have been able to see what is going into the meat that is potentially going into us. The idea of eating meat comes and goes in my life but I find the idea of eating meat much more attractive knowing that the meat I would be putting in my body is natural and healthy. I am a firm believer of the saying “you are what you eat,” and I can imagine the physical and emotional benefits of eating locally grow food. Eat good, feel good, do good, whoo-hoo!
I remember my senior year of high school in my Leadership class we got together at the beginning of the year for some tradition team bonding activities. To get to know each other we all sat in a circle and our teacher, Mr. Self, asked us a series of questions. I remember one of the questions was “what makes you feel alive?” and at the time I didn’t really know what to say. New Zealand has given me so many experiences in which I have never felt more alive. One of those being, being one with nature and all that composes it. Before I sign off I want to give a quick shout out to my fam, mom, dad, Craig, Heather, Simon, Taylor and Nate, love you guys so much, miss you all like crazy and can’t wait to see you guys! I’ll be sending love and positive vibes as you read this, unless of course you don’t!!!