Climate impact and business innovation Central Otago
Our special guest speaker for our AGM this year is Mike Casey, founder of Forest Lodge Orchard and New Zealand Zero.
Forest Lodge Orchard is a 6-hectare commercial cherry orchard is now completely electric and burns zero fossil fuels. In fact, they believe that they are the first ever commercial food grower in the world to achieve this goal.
New Zealand Zero is the blue print to allow more businesses to become more climate positive.
Over half of New Zealand’s emissions are from the agricultural sector, three quarters account for the methane produced from the livestock itself. The next largest source is the nitrogen added to soils followed by manure management. (Source: Ministry of the Environment – Agriculture emissions and Climate Change)
Modern intensive agriculture requires much more energy input than did traditional farming methods, since it relies on the use of fossil fuels for tillage, transportation and grain drying, for the manufacture of fertilizers, pesticides and equipment used as agricultural inputs, and for generating electricity used on farms (Frye, 1984)
Mike Casey looked at how he could remove the reliance of fossil fuels on the farm.
After building and selling his tech start up, coupled with the global pandemic, the family made move from Sydney to Mount Pisa in Cromwell, while Queenstown / Wanaka was initially had their sights the purchase of the orchard was the same price as a house.
Mike always knew that his next start-up would be in the renewable business space and wanted to pave a way for other operators to copy.
Sustainable farming practices, like limiting space.
9200 cherry trees are grown using Upright Fruiting Offshoots – creating a high-density growing system, where the trees were trained on a wire trellis with upright offshoots which produced the cherries.
A net zero energy bill for an entire season. This required solar generation and saavy computer programming.
Mike created a custom computer programme which talked with the local renewable energy provider, Infinite Energy.
This system monitored the Auroa power grid, allowing them to use power when cheap and selling power back to the grid in times of congestion.
The final hurdle was their machinery. This took them to California, where they kicked the tires of an electric tractor.
No green washing. Their product is legit, and Mike believes the consumer will be willing to pay a premium price for a fossil free product.
Yes, there was significant upfront capital but this daring move to run a lighter sustainable farming operation has opened many opportunities.
Join us for this fascinating talk about climate impact and business innovation in the face of it. We’ve asked Mike to talk about the opportunities for carbon reduction that he sees here in the Queenstown Lakes district.
Shaping our Future AGM
Tuesday November 7th – 5.30 onwards