Women are pivotal change agents in agriculture, says eco-nutritionist and long-time crusader for regenerative and organic farming practices in Hawke’s Bay, Phyllis Tichinin.

“They get the concept of biomimicry and farming in nature’s image and are focused on the nurturing, healing aspects of agriculture.”

Ask Phyllis who inspires her in Hawke’s Bay and she singles out four women who have “forged a pathway to produce the highest quality, nutrient-dense local food. 

“Kirsten Wilson in Longlands produces the best cherries. Susan Hunsberger has brought regenerative grazing to her family’s sheep and beef farm, creating an exemplar. Katharine White was the first activist to keep GMO crops out of Hawke’s Bay and the late Vicky Bostock was the driving force in encouraging her husband John to go organic.” 

Phyllis, herself a retired farmer and soil scientist, grew up in Northern California watching fertile Santa Clara orchards and agricultural land being slowly paved over to make way for the growth of Silicon Valley. It left an indelible impact. 

Today Phyllis’s company True Health is importing certified, plant-based remedies for animal health and is focused in particular on trying to get dairy farmers to reduce chemical use and change mental gear in the way they treat conditions such as mastititis. 

True Health remedies are also part of a bigger picture Phyllis is working towards: helping New Zealand agriculture establish microbially robust soils growing premium, diverse pastures that reverse climate change. 

Her immediate focus is to become a more productive communicator so she can help farmers quickly grasp the new more complex, profitable and satisfying regenerative farming approaches.

One recent success is as a founding member of the HB Future Farming Trust. It held a well-subscribed Field Day last November on two Patoka dairies, where testing shows big soil carbon and nitrogen increases from regenerative farming.

“The Trust is waiting to hear on some amazing research projects,” says Phyllis. “Education to further the results of these is crucial, especially for farming women.”

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