Peter Proctor has passed away peacefully at his home in Havelock North at 4.35PM on Friday 8 June. He was 89 years old.
Peter Proctor had a secure job as farm manager at Hohepa Farm, Clive, when he decided to take up an uncertain role as Field Adviser for the Bio Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association. That was in the mid 1980s, and for many years he was probably the only full time adviser to organic farmers in New Zealand.
Peter sometimes would say, after visiting a well established organic or Biodynamic farm, that “they know what they are doing, and don’t really need me”. But when he telephoned to say that he was coming to the district and ask if they wanted a visit from him, the answer was usually “yes”. In those days organic or Biodynamic farming was a particularly lonely task and often attracted derogatory comments from neighbours, so taking it up required courage. This was where Peter excelled – he had a very sunny personality and was a wonderful source of encouragement and enthusiasm especially for those isolated most of the time from others of a like mind. He was on the road, many weeks at a time, travelling from Northland to Southland, and visiting up to 100 farms a year, all of whom paid for his time and travel and very often for many return trips. On occasions he made visits to farmers in Australia also.
Peter’s unique qualities meant that when he retired from the NZ advisory work in the mid- nineties, there was no one who could replace him. But retirement didn’t mean that he stopped, and from then on he made many visits to India with partner Rachel Pomeroy, where they helped farmers to use new methods and to rediscover some of the older ones previously known. The film One Man, One Cow, One Planet documents some of that work, and Peter spoke about it with Kim Hill on Radio NZ in September 2009. (Podcast still available on RNZ website for 12/9/09).
Kua hinga te totara i te wao nui a Tane.
In the forest of Tane a mighty Totara has fallen
BDAI dedicated their current issue to Peter. Please see here.
* 28th of August 1928
† 8th of June 2018