With a less complex life, Esther Hudson is more content, and hopes to export that contentment to the Philippines.
In January last year the 39 year old left her corporate career as a legal secretary in Wellington, as well as a nice house with all the mod cons. She moved home to Gisborne to help her 74 year-old father with his small business, and to study sustainable horticulture at EIT.
“I enrolled in this programme to learn how to grow my own food, use less and create less mess. I have more time and less stuff and I’m fine with that. If you grow food yourself you know here it came from and what went into growing it.”
Last year she and partner Jude put Esther’s new permaculture knowledge to work on Jude’s eight hectares of family land on the Philippine island of Leyte during a month-long stay.
“Things really grow there. We had this idea that it would be great to do all these projects on the farm one day, so I enrolled in the sustainable horticulture programme to gain some practical skills. The things we achieved in the Philippines were directly related to what I learned at EIT – “We made a massive compost from green and brown organic waste, buffalo poo and seaweed. Great compost is not easy to achieve, and it’s a thing of beauty.”
The farm is mainly growing coconuts at this stage but the pair want to diversify, and spend more time there.
“Filipino people are great, they’re very generous. The Philippines teaches you how you can survive on next to nothing – supporting the family is the main thing for Filipinos. The ultimate in self determination is being independent; not relying on unknown factors for your survival.”
Esther was pleasantly surprised by the sustainable horticulture programme.
“It exceeded my expectations – I learned more practical skills than I expected and developed great friendships through the community garden in Manutuke. We went on several class trips
which were excellent experiences. I have also appreciated the resources available at the EIT library and how helpful the librarians are. It’s a great resource – really well-stocked and it’s easy
to access help.”
She was especially grateful for the help of her tutor, Soraya Pohatu.
“She really goes the extra mile; if we are behind, we have extra catch-up classes and if she really thinks you need help she’ll give tutoring one-on-one.