Five years ago we bought a property to be our retirement home, a lovely large house and 12 acres of land in a beautiful part of New Zealand. We felt so lucky. When our contracts finished in Japan we intended to run a small business which would supplement our limited superannuation fund. We could continue our work as language teachers by running English language holidays and also offer writers a quiet place as a retreat where they could work undisturbed. Our home would be a specialised bed and breakfast business. You can see pictures at 'Rowan's Retreat' website at: www.rowanlindsay.co.nz/
Our 12 acres we wanted to turn into an organic, self sufficient unit providing us with our food and a small income from a Pick Your Own Fruit and Nut orchard. With several Farmers’ Markets in the area and a nut growers co-operative to provide other sales outlets for the fruit and nuts it seemed a sensible, easy care choice. We saved up, planning to fix the house and plant the fruit and nut trees within two years. Everything looked rosy, set for a perfect retirement.
Amazing how quickly things can change. During our last horrific year in Japan, first our superannuation was cut, then, suddenly, there was only me, and finally my job vanished too.
I am trying to support myself and get the business going. I have planted 50 hazel trees and a small fruit orchard of 20 trees but really need 200 more trees to earn a reasonable income. I find it a very difficult thing to ask strangers to help me, but I'm on my own and see no other way of completing the plan. Work of any kind, anywhere, has been impossible to find, the Japanese and Christchurch earthquakes have almost stopped bookings for the Language School and now the tree planting has become urgent as I’ve developed a severe form of arthritis and won’t be able to do much digging and planting after this year.
For those people able to help:
1. Donations of $1-$5 will earn a reward of a personal thank you, with a picture of the tree their money helped pay for plus a punnet of fruit or nuts from 'their' tree.
2. Donations of $10 will earn a reward of a personal thank you with a picture of the tree their money helped pay for plus a small basket of fruit or nuts from 'their' tree.
3. Donations of $15 will earn a reward of a personal thank you, with a picture of the tree their money helped pay for plus a large basket of fruit or nuts from 'their' tree.
4. Donations of $30 will buy one tree, and earn a reward of one night’s free B&B accommodation in the guest quarters at my home. Also I will send a personal thank you plus a picture of the tree.
People who are not able to receive fruit and nuts could ‘own’ their tree (or part of tree) labelled with their name, receive a photograph of it, an annual report of its growth and perhaps donate their fruit or nuts to the local food bank.
People who bought a whole tree and can’t take up the free night at my B&B might like to suggest a charity where 50% of one year’s sale of the nuts or fruit from their tree could go, as well as having the tree labelled with their name, receive a photograph of it, and an annual report of its growth.
And perhaps everyone would accept a pat on the back, for helping to plant trees is a gift to the planet and a contribution in the fight against global warming and climate change.