The world of herbal lore had always interested Dee for as a child she had always been given herbs for both food enhancement, health and healing. Yet, even today upwards to 80% of our planets population use herbal extracts, and not big pharmaceuticals.
Dee then became a speaker on herbs and continued to branch out into organic gardening where today she is very successful. Especially in growing 4 seasonal crops a year. Noting that for each season there is a particular set of veggies to grow that suit the temperatures and light etc.
Then to teaching organics over the last so many years because a whole generation have missed out on the skills in growing gardens and the relationships with the soil and micro-organisms of bacteria and fungi, composting and mulch.
With a 1/4 acre section she has turned her garden into a food forest - saving heaps of visits to the supermarket, yet becoming super healthy in the process. She has 30 odd fruit trees in that area with raised veggie garden plots plus chickens and growing and harvesting 4 times a year the only things she buys are onions and mushrooms, because onions take to long to grow. Visitors are totally blown away by the diversity of plants when visiting Dee’s garden. Yet, she also allows weeds like horehound to grow to make cough medicine including red sage as it may even be the first traditional Chinese remedy to gain approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
However, the biggest challenge for home gardeners is that for 9 out of 10, it is the soil that is the problem, having no humous and lacking in minerals, and prospective gardeners think that they can just buy fertiliser and pour it on however that's is not like it at all. We have to build it up, with seaweed, horse, cow and sheep manure, compost and involve yourself in a dedicated process for a wholesome soil web. Getting dead fish frames and guts from fisher folk and burying them in the garden and then sheet mulching with old newspapers and cardboard, keeps the soil moist and warm, for earth worms - as well as keeping weeds at bay.
This lead her to writing a book on how to achieve this and that is how Gardening for Planet Earth was written, being totally different from other books because it was based on natures cycles that make life on earth possible. Including predator prey cycles, pollination cycles, to totally use natural means to achieve healthy and fecund results. It being all about the food web.
Working also with schools, they purchased Dee’s book for ease of use and its original ways of conveying simple information. 'Growing Gardeners’ was supported by Enviro Schools being a book for young children. SustainabilIty, as a way of life, is such an important concept to share with children, such as the value of trees and tree coverage. One example given was that a neighbour cut down a magnificent old tree, and the reason for cutting it down was that it was not doing anything! The vast majority of people in todays surface society have no understanding of the water cycle, and how trees stabilise against soil erosion, with transpiration for cooling, and sequestering C02 and giving shelter/sustenance for birds and insects etc.
She tells of her children living up in Abu Dhabi up in the Gulf states, where the Sheik, the leader of the country was a great believer in trees and for his whole life planted trees across the desert areas using desalinated water to keep them alive, and by growing so many that after many years, the combined action of transpiring trees caused it to rain, which was a great novelty for this region, thus proving a very important point that trees, if the conditions are favourable, can create rain and moisture, which is imperative for any woodland/forested/bush area.
Trees can be the worlds solution to weather wilding, climate change and so called global warming …
Dee sees an urgency of enabling children to become more engaged in nature and the source of their own becoming. Having children involved with Kaipatiki or visits and planting on Tiritiri Matangi, or just growing veggies in their own home garden as an important step for grounding themselves in the natural world.
Dee also has a daughter who is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbal healer sees todays unhealthiness translating into stress, poor food choices, working long hours and busyness - has produced a book called ‘Feed me Right’ and a second book 'Grow me well’, came to be written - self published selling 4,000 copies plus with no advertising, and when given to a publisher their reply was there was no need for a book such as this.
Dee’s talks are now about rethinking the science of nutrition, as food has to be nutritional for it’s not about eating until you are full. High carbohydrate processed food and low fat equals obesity! And slowly nutritionists and doctors are finally coming around to this ‘knowing' as well.
Nutrients have to be in the soil, so that they can be taken up by the plant. It’s imperative to have seaweed and compost, horse manure and coffee grounds etc plus growing comfrey and nettles to be able to make liquid manure and have a worm farm and to focus on going organic. NPK is definitely not it!
For example, growing Nettles provide you with nitrogen, calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper potassium silica.
This interview also covers obesity, cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many other subjects.
Epigenetics - that we are influenced by the outside world. It’s the environment that changes the expression of your genes.
A new book coming out soon called Patterns in Nature covering the deeper qualities in what makes form in the natural world, and how the form comes into being as mathematical and geometrical configurations of natures being, Dee has found that kindergarden teachers are showing much interest in using it. Covering bio mimicry and extending on what is embedded deep within nature, and growing relationships this interview takes us further into the beauty and magnificence of the natural world.
In Auckland a little back yard community garden has recently sprung up. When an older couple had to larger section for them to work on, Dee had 8 people, all vetted to work together and they divvy up the harvest between themselves and the land owner. This is a wonderful story and example of what can be done when we commit to organise commit and co-operate.
Dee’s most passionate request is that all people involved in working the land get a subscription to the magazine Organic NZ http://organicnz.org.nz one of, if not the oldest soil and health publications on planet earth … tells us what is really happening with GE food to the TPPA, how to save seeds, make compost, mulch, prune, store food, care for bees, chooks, animals, build shelter, irrigate and much more.
Richard Main and his project on Community Gardens in Auckland is mentioned here, that many houses in Auckland and across NZ that have just bare lawns, no shrubs, flowers or anything … when for a little effort communities could turn lawns into lunch - using compost, animal manures dead fish frames and guts for sheet mulching.
This lovely interview with Dee will inspire you to get out working the soil and planting.