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How The Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course Changed My Life

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

This time last year, I was enrolled in the first Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course at the Golden Bay Sustainable Living Centre in Takaka. I didn't know much about gardening, having grown up in London. But, I did have a keen interest and some introductory knowledge about earth building and permaculture. At Luminate Festival I was inspired to sign up after I attended workshops by Robina McCurdy, who was teaching the permaculture section of the Sustainable Living Course.

The course began with a strong focus towards connecting with the land, each other, and the local community, all while using calm and thoughtful intentions in tune with nature. All the teachers were very passionate, and the whole town seemed to be excited about the new course. Personally, everything seemed to be flowing into place. I was feeling connected and positive about gaining some of the skills needed to create my desired future.

Several of the modules showed and indicated to me the importance of resilient communities, self-sufficiency, reducing our impact on the planet, and not supporting unethical mainstream industries. I had witnessed the effects on Takaka after Cyclone Gita destroyed the only road into Golden Bay.

"Now, amid COVID-19 lockdown, nothing seems more relevant than this resilience. To grow and eat local, seasonal produce that is mostly organic or wild, all while supporting local farmers and businesses, means Takaka community does not have to rely on things from ‘over the hill’.

This rings bells of joy in my heart; I couldn't wait to know more about how I could organize my life around these healthy local systems, trading/swapping homegrown produce and perhaps even using alternative currencies. The importance of being part of a community that has collective intentions towards a better future became more and more obvious to me."

I started looking for property to buy before my time at the Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course. After seven years of traveling, I was ready to settle down. The course and the new skills I was learning changed my home buying perspective; it enabled me to observe soils, slope, light, weeds, and location in a different, more holistic way.

How much space did I need for growing food? Did I want to include animal farming? I considered community living, shared land options, building an earth house, tiny house, and many other things.

Through the sustainable business module, I learned how to brainstorm using true feelings, to focus my attention on my dreams, to organize what I wanted and think about how this can realistically be achieved.

Seven months after the course, I bought my first home and started to put into practice all the things I had been learning earlier that year with Sol Morgan. I observe the property, the soils, the areas which received light and shade. I identify the plants and animals. I study the effects of clearing space, and I have started a diary of what I see and how it changed with time and seasons. I started composting and feeding the hungry soils, planting vegetables for summer, protecting against pests, saving seeds, and mentally thinking about the possibilities for the garden in the future. As the trees started giving me their delicious fruit, I made huge amounts of chutney to share with friends, or trade for other things I wanted. I regularly make kombucha, Saurkraut, and use other preserving techniques taught by Kerryn on the course, as well as being more aware of the nutrients in my food and my diet in general. I look forward to continuing learning in my garden and sharing its abundant produce.

Now, months later, I often sit on my verandah, observing my healthy and abundant garden with gratitude. I am now confident that I can create a productive and resilient home, on my own, thanks to the skills I have learned during the Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course.

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