Dylan ParkerWhere were you born and where did you spend most of your childhood?

I was born in Timaru and my family lived in Fairlie until I was 5, then we moved to the Marlborough Sounds where my parents worked at the Outward Bound School. After being in the Sounds for 8 years my family moved to Amberley and I attended Hurunui College for the remainder of my schooling.

Where do you live now and with whom?

I now live in Christchurch with my wife Kathryn and our cat Lupin.

What aroused your interest in gardening or horticulture?

I believe it was growing up at Outward Bound I remember spending days out playing in the orchard that was at the end of our driveway. When I was off with my friends in the forest building huts I remember loving growing food. I would grow small gardens of radish near the huts we would build. Also my both my paternal and maternal grandparents were fantastic gardeners. Dad’s parents had a biodynamic farm in Fairlie where they grew food for The Sunflower Centre, a wholefoods cafe they owned. I remember working there picking onions from out in the fields one summer and hanging them to dry in the sheds .  My mum’s dad always grew the best tomatoes and strawberries.

What gardening or horticultural interests do you have now?

I am extremely passionate about permaculture and perennial food systems, intensive crop gardens, mushroom cultivation, native revegetation, foraging and wild foods, heritage seed preservation. I am also really interested in learning woodland management and coppicing but have not been able to find anyone to learn from yet.

What’s your favourite plant and why?

I may have to pick a couple. I am a sucker for weird and interesting pumpkins there is just so much you can do with them and my wife makes fantastic pumpkin pie. I am a huge fan of sweet chestnut trees I remember collecting the nuts as a family and taking them home to roast.

What’s been your most challenging and/or rewarding gardening project?

I am just finishing up working for Cultivate Christchurch and it has been both challenging and rewarding, It has been challenging getting the farm work done that needs to be done while trying to keep people engaged and interested in what they are doing, but so rewarding watching other young people really get involved in gardening and where there food comes from.

When did you join the CHS and why?

I joined CHS very recently to get to know and learn from other gardeners.

What is your passion for the future of the CHS?

I see the future of the CHS as a sharing of knowledge as there is so much knowledge in its members and knowledge that I feel is becoming more and more valuable with the growth of local food movements and people’s general interest in gardening. I also feel that the CHS is where people are going to look to for that knowledge and I want to be a part of that so I can share what I know and am truly passionate about.