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John Chang is one of the older students at the Organic Training College. Originally from Hong Kong, he and his wife came to New Zealand on holiday and found the people friendly and accommodating. They emigrated to New Zealand nine years ago and he worked as a teacher. Now retired, he is loving learning about organic horticulture.

John chose to do the course because “in Hong Kong, we always lived in apartments and never had the chance to grow anything. Here we have some land and I really wanted to learn how to grow food, and I didn’t want to use chemicals.”

Owning a house with a garden for the first time was wonderful – John kept bees and had an export honey business. Then he wanted to grow vegetables but didn’t know where to start.

The course has given him a lot he says. “I knew very little about biology, and I had no experience of plants. At least now I know something and I am very happy to be helped.” Favourite topics have been compost and pest and disease management.

“It has all been totally new. The BHU is a very friendly place, and the tutors are very knowledgeable.”

John is in first year and plans to enroll in the second year course: “there is so much to learn.” At 65, John shows it is never too late to take on new challenges and learn new skills.

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