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A Place to Be

The Kakanui farm is a demonstration of 0.57 ha of intensive horticulture. Four tunnel houses produce crops all year round. The produce from A Place to be is sought by top chefs all over Aotearoa New Zealand.

In addition, the farm guards seven cultivars of Maori potato and is a site of heritage seed conservation. All work on the farm is done using hand tools, it is not connected to the grid and copes with a limited water supply. Vines, sheep and chooks round out production.

Twenty-five years ago, the soil on a Place to Be was ruined after intensive daffodil cultivation. The land had been cropped almost continuously for more than thirty years; fertilizer and chemicals including DDT and Triazines had been used in increasing amounts. Anecdotally the water running off the property after rain used to “run brown”. Today the soil brims with life, water soaks in, the property produces crop after crop with no outside inputs, tomatoes, salad crops, garlic, spinach, beans, potatoes, gherkins and shallots to name but a few.

On our properties monitoring programmes are in place with outside agencies. At A Place to Be Environmental fertilisers provide advice.

Farm focussed scientists working with science based farmers comfortably combine with local and traditional knowledge- the best of all worlds.


Jim at A Place to Be is well known as “The Dirt Doctor.” He has taught his horticultural techniques to many eager students and is sought after for his produce. He features in the Kathleen Gallagher documentary “Earth whispers Papatūānuku” and is the subject of Rachel Patching’s documentary “the Dirt Doctor” screened on BBC Knowledge in 2014.