Passing on a little bit of love

Nicole McKnight cuts tulips for her bouquets at her farmlet near Makarewa, while son Huxley (2) watches on.

YOU could say Nicole McKnight stands by the pay it forward philosophy.

She was the recipient of kindness in many forms when her husband, Sam, had a medical emergency which left him with a chronic, debilitating illness. It was during his initial health problems, the McKnight family received many forms of kindness, some from people involved in her husband’s care and others from friends, family and even strangers.

“When it was so difficult we received so much help and kindness. Even if it was people just doing their job, it was always so much more than that. We received so much support from our community.”

Now she is returning the kindness, using her business as a grower and florist to pass on a little bit of love to those who help others in the community. She calls it “Pick of the Bunch”, with the idea of acknowledging the contribution of everyday people who do wonderful things for others.

“When we started our business we realised all the people that helped expectation… so this was just a really simple idea that was something I could do to thank people who help other people.”

So far, there had been a cross-section of people from all walks of life who had received the floral thank you. Teachers, sports coaches and even someone who gifted a person a hay bale to another family for their bunny hutch.

The McKnights’ farmlet near Makarewa is the perfect place to create these messages of thanks. The idea for the farm business was actually inspired by their son Gulliver, now 8, after he set up a roadside stall at his grandfather’s, selling herbs and plants.

‘It gave me the confidence to say we can actually do this,” Mrs McKnight said.

After Mr McKnight became ill, all plans were put on hold and it wasn’t until they had their second son Huxley, they decided to finally get it up and running.

“We had got used to our new life and we were ready to start something,” she said.

“We always dreamed of having some type of farm business. We wanted to live a more sustainable lifestyle and grow our own food.”

It was then she started to develop part of the property’s 25 acres into flower beds. Here the flowers are bathed in sun garden Mrs McKnight developed from a horse paddock.

There’s lillies, tulips and irises lined up, some already displaying their beautiful petals and others still waiting to burst into bloom and show off their full potential.

Work has already begun on another area where she has planted 250 rose bushes.

Herbs are also grown here, and she sells these to both restaurants and private clients.

Fruit trees and vegetable gardens were also planted and it is hoped in the future more produce will be sold.

The business started slowly but has now grown to include corporate clients.

Horticulture is in her DNA. She confesses most of her knowledge comes from her mother and she previously worked for Koha Kai developing its horticulture programme.

She hopes one day they can develop a cottage on the farm to allow other people suffering a chronic illness a chance to relax and enjoy an escape

It is here in this idyllic little patch of paradise, Huxley, Gulliver and their parents can live a life and use what they have to ensure kindness abounds.

Paying it forward
THE Southland Express will feature the Pick of the Bunch recipients. If you have someone you think is worthy of receiving a bouquet of thanks, go to the Festival Farm Facebook page or email and nominate someone who has shown kindness
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