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August 2012 - a new direction for Oratia

Some of you will have heard Geoff muttering over recent years that the time has come to move on from the nursery in order to give more energy to his conservation interests.

The usual response to such mutterings has been, "But you can't do that! You're the only nursery where I can...", the dots varying depending on whether the reply comes from a retail customer, a landscaper, a DOC or Landcare Research scientist, a conservationist, a regional Council employee, an educator - the list goes on.

But a deadline has been set, and a recently-published article in Commercial Horticulture says it all.

While closing the nursery would be the simplest option, it is hard to contemplate such an end for a lifetime's work. His work with conservation bodies has led Geoff to observe the need for a central organisation capable of working with and supporting the myriad of small conservation nurseries and projects, many of which are struggling to survive independently. Such an umbrella organisation could provide a coordinated approach to funding and establish the scope of projects where currently there is competition, overlap and avoidable gaps.

Such a move will be dependent on several factors.

Firstly, funding to support such a transfer is needed and, accordingly, Geoff is currently working on an application to the Ministry for the Environment.

Secondly, a capable nursery manager will be needed - one who has the passion to maintain and develop the nursery's reputation as a conservation nursery, while at the same time running it as an efficient commercial entity.

And thirdly, a Trust to oversee the operations needs to be established or, perhaps, an existing Trust with sympathetic goals could extend its operation to take in the nursery. Here, a critical component will be the input of someone, or a group of people, with the vision to see the possibilities available. While the nursery is the core business on the land, opportunities exist for a variety of other enterprises, either independent of or complementary to the nursery, many encompassing both ecological and social benefits.

While we are happy to help with any transition, it should be remembered that the aim of all this activity is for Geoff and Bev to move away from hands-on involvement!

So, what can anyone receiving this email do?

Well, apart from weeping or the gnashing of teeth, one thing that is required is evidence of the importance of the nursery to a variety of stakeholders.

If you are a person who has exclaimed that we can't close, we need you to email us a brief description of why the nursery has been of importance to you, and why you would support its continuing, albeit as a changed model. The Ministry for the Environment application needs to be completed by 31 August, so any letters of support need to reach us by next Wednesday, 29 August at the latest.

Alternately, if you have other suggestions or feel compelled to make us an offer we can't resist, please contact us.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Geoff and Bev Davidson
Oratia Native Plant Nursery