Trish Allen - Greener Living

Our cover girl this issue is Matakana’s very own green goddess, Trish Allen. Trish is an environmental educator and freelance permaculture teacher who loves nothing better than talking rubbish over a keep-cup of coffee. But don’t worry, she’s no militant greenie. She’s a polite, smiling woman who is quietly but relentlessly building a zero-waste legacy, one workshop at a time.

“I guess the thing that really drives me now, and it’s only increased over the years, is permaculture,” she says. “It encompasses everything I’m passionate about. It’s a way of life. It’s about energy efficiency, it’s about not wasting anything, it’s about regenerating soil, water and ecosystems – it’s living your life in a way that leaves the planet better than it was before you arrived.” Trish pauses for a breath. “Sorry, I get a bit…”

Most locals know about Trish’s history of starting Rainbow Valley Farm with her husband, the legendary Joe Polaischer. They bought 50 acres of steep, gorse-infested land in Matakana and over 25 years turned it into a globally-recognised permaculture education centre, growing everything from rice to sugar cane. 

Since Joe’s tragic and untimely death ten years ago Trish has built her own home in Matakana village, utilising timber grown at Rainbow Valley. More recently she has immersed herself again in environmental education with a verve that would make most people need a cup of tea and a lie-down. 

She manages zero waste campaigns for councils and she’s involved in the Matakana community gardens, Matakana Greenswap and local Wastebusters groups. She teaches workshops in permaculture, composting, fermentation and more. 

Trish is fairly optimistic about the future of the planet. “Things are going to change a lot, yes – you can’t get bogged down in the negatives though, it doesn’t solve anything,” she declares. “But that’s the best thing about permaculture – it’s so positive and solution-based. There’s so much we can do!”

Technology inspires her: “I saw fence posts recently made of recycled plastic – all made in NZ. And solar power of course has huge potential. Technology is not going to save the planet though, it’s only people changing their behaviour that’ll do that. But young people are stepping up now – there’s students all over the world who are going to ‘strike for climate change’ on March 15 (www.schoolstrike4climatenz.com), they are so inspiring!”

If you’re inspired by Trish and would like to do more, check out these upcoming workshops in the Matakana area (and around greater Auckland).

Introduction to Permaculture: 16 March, Matakana Hall

Fixing café: 17 March Matakana Hall

Fermentation workshop: 23 March, Matakana Hall

Hot Composting and Bio-char workshop: 31 March, Rainbow Valley Farm

To book go to www.kaipatiki.org.nz/ecofest

Junction Mag