Author(s): Heather Kidd
It used to be that behind every chisel-jawed, No 8-wired Kiwi farmer stood a good woman. But how those times have changed. The New Zealand rural landscape of the 21 century now features many enterprising women engaged in making a living off the land in their own right.
Growing More Than Grass showcases 20 of these interesting individuals. There's Monique Neeson, city born and bred, a former hairdresser now living at Tokirima in the King Country heartland. Poor wool prices encouraged Monique and her mother-in-law Lyn to look at how they could make things better for themselves, ShearWarmth, a business making and sell 100 per cent natural wool blankets, the fleece sourced from their own farm, their answer.
University graduate Sarah Higgins is a fulltime shearer who operates her own shearing gang in the Marlborough region. The thwarted artistic ambitions of Jacquie Haseldene’s female ancestors is the inspiration behind this Waikato artist’s haunting installations. Peter Jackson’s location scout turning up at a farm seeking permission to film scenes for the movie The Hobbit has resulted in Suzie Denise running Hairy Feet Tours on her family’s Piopio property. Successful businesswomen Georgia Richards and Dot Kettle quite their fast-paced life in Wellington and bought a hundred acres in the Dove Valley near Nelson, some of which they planted in peonies. Having discovered the amazing healing properties of the peony root, this resourceful couple are now creating a range of natural products.
Further chapters tell the stories of a cheese-maker, the founder of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust, a Young Maori Farmer of the Year, whisky maker, publisher, lavender farmer, cycle tour operator and more … Growing More Than Grass is a book about wonderfully talented, vivacious women who are proud to be rural.