When everyone else kept coming back to fencing and planting pine, CarbonCrop saw the native potential. This is Darcy Clarke's story.
Setting the Scene
My mum took over Orongorongo Station around 1987. It was sheep and cattle grazing right through to the mid-90s, but no spraying or clearing had been done, so it has started to close in. We considered spraying and fencing the front half and just letting the back half regenerate, but fencing a place like this is hard, especially with having to fence waterways. It’s hard country, and not really high return for finishing stock on. We were barely making anything out of it, so we decided to get rid of all the stock. Clearing it would cost a fortune.
Getting to Today
We started looking into diversification, first with manuka honey. We’d been talking about carbon credits for about four or five years with our neighbours up the road but hadn’t jumped on it before now because we were never really that comfortable with what was being offered. All the companies we’d spoken to were driving towards them leasing our land, or a partnership to plant it in pines. We wondered if this was really the way we wanted to go. We were open to it, but we just thought there had to be another way.
No one really wanted to do a site visit. We were charged up front, and some companies mapped it and just sort of threw it at us, I think because they were more interested in planting pine.
CarbonCrop was a much better fit for natives. No one else was that interested in them - they kept on coming back to fencing and planting in pine. We’ve got 6,000 acres of regenerated manuka, kanuka and other natives - it just seemed to be a waste. It was frustrating.
We couldn't understand why there wasn't something for what we already had. We've seen it regenerate from grass at this end of the farm and it’s now five meters high in areas. No one really wanted to do a site visit. We were charged up front, and some companies mapped it and just sort of threw it at us, I think because they were more interested in planting. CarbonCrop got right into it.
There must be so many blocks like ours around New Zealand that could probably do a bit more if they knew that someone had the technology to help them.
It’s hard to do due diligence on a company that sounds too good to be true, we did our research and CarbonCrop seemed more advanced and proactive than some of the other companies out there. The process was really easy - we told them what we wanted and they did all the work. CarbonCrop doesn’t get paid unless we do, so no one is being taken advantage of. It’s a win-win.
This the future for our kids - no more fencing and dagging sheep. Manuka honey and native bush for carbon credits aren’t damaging the land, and don’t take much to farm. It’s great for biodiversity as well. We’ve put the money back into the farm, and are looking at setting up eco-tours. It’s something we’ve often thought about.
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Photo credit: Kevin Nass, CarbonCrop