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Friday, September 7, 2012

A blank sheet

Following an offer by 'Mr E' of further discussion around roadside planting in Southland, I'm putting this post up in order to provide a repository for ideas that could further Mr E's and my desire to see 'something happen' to improve the state of the 'long acre'.
All are welcome and encouraged to contribute.
First up, I'd like to welcome Mr E to give a bit of an outline of how he sees the situation and the potentials for such a project.
The floor, or rather the roadside, is yours, Mr E.

(I'll copy and paste significant clips from the comments, if and when the come, here on the 'post face', so that casual readers can see at a glance what's happening in the comments section.)

Update*  Mr E has started the ball rolling:

"Well I think the benefits of more roadside planting are reasonably obvious. We could improve aesthetics, biodiverstiy, pollination, nutrient management, stock shelter, erosion mgmt, weed suppression, potentially road management costs, cultural values, privacy and the list goes on.In my opinion a team needs to be put together first and foremost."

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beaut.
Well I think the benefits of more roadside planting are reasonably obvious. We could improve aesthetics, biodiverstiy, pollination, nutrient management, stock shelter, erosion mgmt, weed suppression, potentially road management costs, cultural values, privacy and the list goes on.
In my opinion a team needs to be put together first and foremost.
Such a team would work on:
*Project management
*Communities of interest
*Funding
*Partnerships with land owners, Land transport association, roading maintenance, councils, communities,etc
*Species plan, regional and site specific factoring community wishes.
*Project delivery

I would suggest a pilot begins in the first instance. Founding members would applying for funding from organisations like the Sustainable Farming Fund to achieve the goal of planting a 20km stretch of road. The funding would used to, consider the viability of a regional project, establish the framework needed to expand the project regionally and deliver.

Where would the pilot start. A stretch of raod from Invercarill to Riverton. Of course.

Eventually I would expect project management to be run by an organisation, manual work delivered by communities/farmers, and planting costs to be shared between farmers/and other beneficiaries.

Species would be chosen to deliver on beneficial values described above.

Bit of a rough concept. And in desperate need of input from others. But I think progress comes from vision mixed with common sense.
What are other peoples ideas/thoughts?

Anonymous said...

And yes that was Mr E above. Darn signature.

robertguyton said...

Your thoughts, Mr E, are mine also. Readers will wonder if I'm using you as a front for promoting my own world-view - who'd have thought :-)
I can't see anything there I don't like. I have some more specific ideas for funding, some already offered, so getting started won't be difficult.
In my opinion, this project should be 'described' as the foremost of its kind in NZ, as so many Southland initiatives are.
Yes, a 'planning team' is needed. We have to at least try to kill the idea by committee :-)
All of those partnerships you describe will be needed. First and foremost though, we need to build a 'heart'. My experience with fires (extensive :-) is that a hot heart, built from dense wood, is vital to the long life and effectiveness of a fire. I'm willing to be a log and have been described before as dense. The rest is mere detail.
A couple of thoughts. Liability. Anything done alongside of a highway incurs some sort of responsibility. My inital approach would be to keep to flexibles, that is, plants that would barely scratch a car, let alone dent it.
I've a great passion for perennial vegetables and herbacious plants, especially those that can be eaten by stock or humans. They fit the 'it's only a scratch' criteria.
Broadcasting the project is valuable too. There are lots of ways to do that. I can volunteer the NZ Gardener's Southland columnist to keep a regular mention going (he's easy to convince about good ideas), and the radio show on Southland Radio that I may have mentioned. They're only a start, of course, but in the bag, so to speak.
I have to put a plug in now for hebe. They're unsung saviours, I reckon, in terms of many of the criteria you mention, Mr E, especially in their appeal to bees. The are magnets, not often recognised as such. Iwi will support their proliferation, I suspect. Women like them, almost as much as rhododendrons. I can see potential for hebe to lead off-raod, down farm tracks and around farmhouses, as suggested by farmers' wives :-)
I have many more ideas but certainly don't want to be seen as a front-man for this. Mr E makes the point that I frighten farmers, and their involvement will be vital.

Over to you, Mr E.(Is it 'E' for environment or 'E' for economy)

robertguyton said...

And of course there's the whole 'heritage Southland fruit tree thing'.
We have vast reserves of special trees gleaned from our old Southland stations, farms, orchards and so on. That alone could be the selling point to tourists, who of course will flock to be part of the uniquely Southland travel experience. Imagine the promotional possibilities. It's bigger than bird-watching and trainspotting put together :-)

Anonymous said...

I echo those thoughts around liability. Not so much from a dent point of view. More from a management point of view. Any think bigger than a flax (and even flax) can create frost sites on roads and power line concerns. That is not to say larger cant be used. Their placement needs to be carefully thought out.

The humble hebe is a great idea. Footing the bill for many of the criteria. Perhaps a little on the less adverturous side, tussocks provide good predatory insect sites and fit many of the criteria. Carex buchananii and Poa Cita. Phacelia for flowers. The list goes on. Anyway species are the finer details.
I think plant package deals could be designed and roadways mapped to define the suitability for those packages. Then the farmers/community decide from a,b,c what package they want where. I little complex but such a project will live or die in its common sense approach.
I think you could be the front man, or an ES person. Shame ES does not have Jim Risk still. He could be on the committee though. Perhaps also Michael Blomfield? I can think of a raft of names, including market gardeners. A good balance is needed between project managers and plant experts. Too much of either could cause limitations.

I wont rabbit on in the interest of productive realtionships. I think you would be ideal if you focus on the opportunity. I am sure you can do this. As you have indicated pashion is criteria number 1.

robertguyton said...

Frost, yes, is a deciding factor, but easily managed by planting to the east :-)
I'd taihoa on the harakeke, though I love it. As it does with riparian planting, flax becomes unweildy and problematic. Whariki less of a problem.
As for 'footing the bill', I suspect there are many willing to grow for this project, gratis.
Carex and poa, of course.
Jim was/is a great asset, that's for sure.
I'd like to see people interacting with the 'long garden', extracting value directly from it in terms of food and materials (flowers, seeds,fibre etc.) Have to be designed so they can do that safely.
There are btw, already some stretches (short) that have begun to fill with plants, courtesy of the neighbour. Good thing to stimulate ownership and involvement of adjacent landowners - a signature planting - something they hold dear, is important to the long term survival of the programme "our place is the one with the yellow red-hot-pokers along the front", etc.
There are a number of people who would love to be involved in this, I reckon, from the sorts of 'frontmen and women' you described, to the foot-soldiers whose names you might not have heard. There are too, the likes of the 'Free Fruit Peddlers', cyclists who plant as they go, for whom I'm the southern rep :-)
The drawback with my being involved, is my liking for natural and wild plantings, which many people baulk at. I'd rather have an advisory role, more an idea-floater than a front-man, me.
I'd like to see too, a 'theme' running through the plantings. Nothing too obvious, perhaps, but good landscape design demands it. Ad hoc works if there's a tie. Some people will want to do ad hoc. I wonder how many adjacent landowners harbour the desire to plant their roadside but haven't because of Transits restrictions?
There's a very nice example of roadside planting on the road to Anderson's Park, at the front of a 10 acre block. I have photos, somewhere. I know the 'garden writers' for the local rags will love this proposal, when they hear of it, and happily 'advertise' progress. Have you seen the book written about Central Otago's wildflowers? There's great potential for the same here. The move from spraying to mowing has been a good omen for this sort of project. Sowing is the next step. Annual 'flowering crops' would be a great 'flag' to fly, signalling the opening of the project.
And so on. There are a lot more good aspects to explore, but I don't want to dominate the discussion :-)

Anonymous said...

Great passion Robert. I would nominate you as founder and Chairman. You can appoint a project manager.

I guess such a project would simply replicate what many people have individually done, but create some unity to encourge more rapid progress through support.

I see plenty of plantings around some great, some not so great. The road from Gorge road to Mokotua. Heaps of flax and toi toi, which is good but great would include more variety.

I agree that part of the benefit would be a theme. I think if there were plant packages a theme could run through them. Completely agree there. Themed with variety.

I think logic would determine that if native plants fit the needs, they are used in preference. Most people would lean that way i reckon.

I can see the need for tools.... Your son might need to go into business.

I have met and chatted to Dr David Scott before. Interesting man from an interesting family. Perhaps a little excentric but quite a legacy he has created. I would note he has his detractors and it is an important consideration for such a project. Annual flowers are great as long as they are not weeds to farmers. I can hear the faint echo of mixed herbal ley... But such a project can not interfer with farmers philosophies. Such cunning schemes would create issues I would imagine.

I keep thinking about puha and the right selection of variety as an example.

Of course we could be considered a couple of rambling idiots. I would like to hear others thoughts.

More names for the committee . G Watson, Mr Day, etc

Anonymous said...

Actually.... Why not Graeme as project manager?
From that point contact Vaughan. Feds support would be invaluable. Vaughan will know every property from the Flecks to Brocks. If that is a stretch let me know. I know a man who knows a man. Call a meeting about the concept and see if you can get farmer support for the pilot.
Apply for SFF and others for funding, and you ball is rolling.

robertguyton said...

Looks like you're Project Manager then, Mr E :-)
Puha - yes, mahika kai is a main thread that should run through the project, imho. Just prettifying the roadsides is not enough. I can think of several people from our various runaka who would most likely be very interested.
Rambling idiots?
I've never been accused of 'rambling' before :-)
Gotta go now - into town to clamp on the earphones at radio Southland for a test drive.
Thanks for your ideas. I see good things.

robertguyton said...

Graeme would be excellent, unless he's already over committed. Vaughn and I share some philosophies and talk freely. He'd be good. There are others along that stretch as well.
We're calling a meeting already?
That was swift!
I'd like to float these ideas past others first. Perhaps I should mass-email out the link to this post :-)

Anonymous said...

Vaughan will try and talk you into pines or flax I am sure.

Without committment from people you wont have a project. A meeting with the local public would have to be one of the first steps. If you get overwhelming support, funding is easier. You know I like collaboration.

By way of floating, having a chat to your ES tree team might help. Nathan and Gary are probably two likely candidates. They interact enough with farmers to know if it could fly. What an airy paragraph.

You need a project name...Long garden, I am not sure that is great. I will think on it. It needs a catch phrase "on the road to ....."

If this idea floats I will eat my words about blogging. Maybe blogging can lead to productive outcomes.

robertguyton said...

I wasn't floating 'long garden' - garden's out for the pragmatists :-)
I haven't thought about a project title yet, but will mull it over. Mind you, the decision will have to be a collaborative one :-) I'm no benevolent dictator.
Vaughn 's bigger than pines and flax, I'm certain.
As to the value of blogging and blogs, I could list some of the benefits where the online chatter has turned into real progress on the ground, sometime, if you really want to know.
Speaking of titles, what do you think of "Get Down to Earth (with Robyn and Robert Guyton) for the radio show?
On my way now.
Btw, just so it doesn't seem that I'm too enthusiastic and positive about the roadside proposal, here's a fly in the ointment for me:

Leylandii.

I loathe them and their scenery-stealing ways!

Cheers :-)

Anonymous said...

Leylandii
Great for stock shelter, not so good for roadsides. The worst case I can think of in Southland was Nth Makarewa. And they are well gone. Still they keep the nosey greenies out... oh ooops:)
A great man once told me they were his favorite for stock shelter.

Names for Radio.
Get the dirt from Roberrrrt
Earthman and Robyn
Trees, bees and knobbly knees
"Annoying childish backstabbing behaiour" Joking
How to make citatons on Radio. I know you will be laughing with me.

Serious again.
My personal favourite. Down to Dirrrt with Roberrrrrt (and Robyn) in her voice

Yours is good too.


robertguyton said...

Ah! We've arrived back with a clutch of possible signature tunes and all the recording technology an interviewer could need to capture the thoughts of interesting Southlanders - we'll start tomorrow. Sadly, we've missed Henry and Ira and Jim. Maybe I could interview you, Mr E (I'm guessing, 'David', you must have a real name :-)
"Still they keep the nosey greenies out... oh ooops:"
You're on the button there, and confirm for me what I've always suspected - hiding the real truth about farming behind the treehuggers icon, trees - very cunning, I note the calf rearing facility on the Invercargill/Riverton highway, screened by native trees - clever as.
Mocking Robyn's Southland roll, eh!
Risky manouver, Mr E!
I worry for you now.
Tomorrow, perhaps, we'll talk again.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on you can take a joke can't you. I meant it in good humor. Definitely no offense intended to Robyn nor you for that matter. Sorry if you saw it otherwise.
I had assumed you had grasped my sense of humor.
Mr E

robertguyton said...

Of course I can, Mr E!
Did you miss the subtly of my reply?
I rarely take offence :-)

Anonymous said...

Good man. Speak tomorrow?
Mr E

robertguyton said...

Yes.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.

robertguyton said...

Back into it, Mr E.

How does a careful 'short burst' grazing regime for some of those roadside margin plantings sound to you?
Cows could browse down, not eat to the ground, perrenial and annual grasses and broadleafed herbs, treading the stalks into the ground and manuring as they go. Earthworms love this treatment and carbon stays put when it's treated this way. Each associated farmer would gain the benefit of the 'long acre', albeit briefly, and there would be no need for mowing.
What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Complicated. Careful means risky.
Many roadsides have drains etc. Not a lot of roadsides with grass get grazed, I can't see the presence of herbs encouraging it.
Mr E

robertguyton said...

Plantain and chicory are herbs. Surprised to find you so...reluctant :-)
I often see cows grazing the roadside, kept in by a strand of electric wire. It could work well. perhaps you're envisaging something different. Drains? Cows can't cope with drains?
Those people I've spoken to over the past two days (quite a few) universally support the 'roadside planting' concept.

robertguyton said...

Have you watched this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6HGKSvjk5Q

Anonymous said...

Plantain and chicory meh. Expensive and not persistent in grazing systems.
My point, I don't think the presence of herbs will encourage roadside grazing where it has not occurred before. And herbs are sensitive to grazing risking project outcomes. More specifically sclerotinia a common soil bacteria gets into the plant during grazing and kills it. The reason why it is rear to see in pastures over 3 years old.
Couldn't watch past the 2 minute mark. The guy was making stupid statements. 90% of arable soils sterilised. Silly.

Anonymous said...

Rare lol stupid.

robertguyton said...

I'd not watched it myself, just wondered if you had. If it's good for a laugh, I'll take a look, on your recommendation.
Things aren't always as they seem.
Did you watch Country Calendar last night?
Very interesting. I do recommend that.

robertguyton said...

Mr E

One of the writers I alluded to has indeed contacted me and asked if we are ready to boadcast our project, through her, to the wider Southland audience.
What do you say?
'sup 2 u.

robertguyton said...

broadcast