How did Blue Borage come to exist?
I was mesmerised by biodynamics, and found myself creating edible gardens for friends - over and over again. Someone said to me I should start a business doing what I love, and after a good deal of thought, it just seemed like a good thing to try.
The name Blue Borage came about because I wanted to blend food, soil and bee-friendly gardening, to present a picture of calm & tranquility, with the floral delicacy of these beautiful edible blooms. What I didn't realise at the time was that the traditional use of the herb borage was to give people courage.
Here's a light-hearted look at the roles I carry and what helped me to form the skills required in this business that is attempting something bold - transforming the societal view of composting away from waste management, and instead focusing on the potential for a circular food system - composting allows us to make heathy soil to grow good food for all.
Roles within Blue Borage
My first proper job was as a language teacher, and I travelled to different countries teaching English as a foreign language, from Siberia in 1997 to Japan in 1999 to Toronto in 2001 then back to Japan till 2006.
I love studying... and so along with a BA in Russian linguistics, I earned a Post Grad Diploma in Second Language Teaching and passed level 3 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam 日本語能力試験 (Nihongo Nōryoku Shiken). Bit of a geek.
My favourite research assignment in my PGDip was diving into Community Language Learning - I examined a committed group of learners who demonstrated that it IS possible to learn English effectively without a teacher. The factors that aid language learning are remarkably similar to the qualities of self-taught gardeners: interest, enthusiasm, finding a community with whom to share your experiences, positivity, optimism, commitment, dedication, concrete goals and some celebrations on the journey.
I'm now applying this background of adult learning to how I deliver my workshops and how I write my online course materials.
I love getting my hands in the soil, participating in the alchemy that is composting. This was something that developed in my 30's - I can still recall my feeling of disgust at the thought of handling cow manure when I arrived in Titirangi in 2009.
Home Chef & Mum
'Grow the food you love to eat' is a great motto to live by, and I think my journey with home cooking has been more varied than many people my age.
I remember arriving in Japan in 1998 with a 10 month old toddler and enough tinned baby food to last about 2 weeks. It was the middle of summer, I spoke minimal Japanese, and my next-door-neighbour took on the task of educating me on how to make baby food using local produce. It's amusing to know that my love of Japanese cuisine, or 和食 (Washoku) began with learning to make baby food.
My years as a young parent were influenced by books like Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen and I recall a deep yearning to adopt a local, seasonal diet as soon as possible.
I was raised in a family business that was born when I was about 12 years old. Our family dinner conversations seemed to revolve around business decisions, and I think I inherited a creative spark that enjoys finding new ways to package ideas up into products and services for my community.
For six years I was Operations Coordinator at a non-profit in the disability sector and got access to a lot of training in Social Role Valorisation. This touched me deeply, and sparked a desire to be part of a paradigm shift whereby businesses and private individuals can participate in creating communities that fully embrace people of ALL abilities.
Artist, Musician, Meditant, Alchemist & Anthroposophist
There's a creative element to the work of Blue Borage, and this is very much an expression of the years and years I spent in the adult Eurythmy group at the Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School when my children were younger.
Bringing speech to life through movement heightened my senses to the formative forces in plants, and there is nothing I love more than sitting next to a borage plant with a cup of coffee and chatting with the bees.
Since leaving home at the age of 18 I have lived in over 20 dwellings (with and without gardens), and I created an edible garden wherever I could.
I adore getting gardens started, and thrive on the challenge of refining what's in place to just add a wee bit more while tweaking the layout to suit the people using the space.
My personal style is what I'd call 'rustic' and I love a chaotic mix of flowers, herbs and vegetables dancing together.
5/1 Emotional Generator
A final influence on my work is that of Human Design. I'm a pure generator, here to engage my energy fully in the work that lights me up.
Making soil, sharing my love of biodynamics, fighting for food sovereignty and helping build a truly circular economy is something that recharges me and I am driven to share this with others, while also empowering people to be creative in their own gardens.
There are so many ways my work overlaps with other professions, and I cannot wait to develop edible gardens and composting solutions to suit gourmet chefs, nutritionists, retirement villages, retreat centres, parks, schools and even shopping centres.
We could all be making soil instead of simply managing waste. I think the time has come to stop delegating waste management to someone else, and start taking more responsibility.
I'm so happy that Blue Borage lets me wear ALL these hats, and live a life of service.