Sustainability Starts in your own Back Yard

Words by  Brittany Ryan

People wanting hands-on advice about how to make their garden more productive and eco-friendly are about to get their annual dose of inspiration.

The Annual Taranaki Sustainable Backyards Trail takes place for 10 days between Friday 28th October and Sunday 6th November, featuring 30 Sustainable Backyards around the region accompanied by 100 mostly free workshops, tours, and hands-on demos.

Imaginative backyards, market gardens, and community spaces offer the perfect opportunity for learning and engaging. Hosts encourage people to make changes in their own backyards by offering the resources and local know-how to get started at home. 

One visitor from last year’s Trail said, “I absolutely loved the Backyards and I do (the Trail) every year. I come away feeling inspired and I am currently digging out bromeliads to make room for more fruit trees.”

In 2015, Ursula Bil-Teitink had the progressive idea to start a grassroots festival that focused on people, community, and sustainability. Now, with resounding local and national support, the audience grows each year and inspires over 25,000 visitors to look for opportunities in their own backyards to make environmentally-friendly improvements, whether it’s on a balcony, lifestyle block, farm, or urban plot.  It’s a growing movement with major benefits like curtailing climate change, living healthier lives, and deepening our relationships.

This is the first year the Trail is offering a Bespoke Sustainable Backyard Bus Tour, a Treasure Hunt for Garden Explorers, and a kōrero from Te Ara Taiao students at Ōmata School sharing tikanga and kawa of growing kumara. 

Soil Resilience with Pounamu Skelton – a Mātauranga Māori Perspective will be held at The Green School NZ on the first Saturday, October 29th at 1pm. These learning opportunities strengthen the fabric of our community by building food resiliency through networking as visitors are encouraged to engage directly with garden hosts and speakers.

Hosts return year after year for a mutual benefit. Veteran host, full-time mum, and market gardener, Michelle Busby from Goldbush Micro Farm says, “I love sharing our journey with others, showing them both what is possible and what hasn’t worked! Helping visitors find inspiration, for their context, is a great way to spread sustainability.”

On the last Saturday of the Trail, the Annual Growers Gathering at Greenbridge, a celebratory event, invites guests to enjoy catering from Wild Pear Kitchen, listen to Amanda-Jane Healy’s success story, and be in to win a gift basket from her Everkind Organics range. Also new to the Trail, Blue Petal Botanicals will be hosting a Herbal Workshop – Herbs in the Kitchen with Martina Murray at a special discount. Find more information about these events and make your booking at  

I am inspired every year by the Backyards I visit. For me that’s the best part about gardening, it means continuous learning, failing and trying again, finding what works for my garden, and enjoying the process.

The Backyards Trail partners with the Centuria Garden Festival and the Taranaki Arts Trail running alongside the Taranaki Fringe Festival. Support from Venture Taranaki, NPDC, and 22 local businesses make this grass-roots event possible. If you’d like to be involved next year please email  

You can start your sustainable journey today with videos on water collection, seed propagating, and lasagne bed composting found on the Sustainable Backyards Trail website:

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