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Quirky science will help broach tough issues

“Ever wanted to know if a cow is smiling? Or how you can make your car run on food waste from the rubbish dump?” Grow Ō Tautahi Science Ambassador Trevor Stuthridge is keen to share cool science alongside research that makes a real difference to people’s lives.

“I think scientists often forget how amazing our job is and how excited our research can make people,” the AgResearch Research Director says.

Trevor will lead the Science of Food Hub during Christchurch’s free, three-day Garden Festival Grow Ō Tautahi. Challenged by the ideas and questions of local secondary students, environmental experts from AgResearch, Lincoln University and Environment Canterbury will explore the topics that matter to our region right now and into the future.

“It is a great chance to make science real by engaging audiences in environmental and sustainability issues that really mean something to their lives,” he says.

A self-professed “Uber Geek”, Trevor is thrilled to have the opportunity to share cutting-edge science at the Festival and demonstrate how local research can have a real benefit to our personal and community wellbeing. “We’re all becoming more aware that what we consume has a direct impact on both our health and our environment. A future where we tailor food to our individual genetics and track its source according to consumer preferences is now on the horizon.”

Science of Food Hub presentations will address some of the approaches being taken to balance agricultural, land management and food production in a more sustainable manner. On behalf of the three organisations, Trevor will lead three daily interactive discussions at Grow Ō Tautahi on environmental science issues that relate to our everyday lives. He is inviting secondary school students – our future innovators and thought leaders – to take part in the discussions, ask the tough questions and help generate new, forward-thinking ideas.

“As well as sharing some fun and quirky ideas, I see Grow Ō Tautahi as an opportunity to explore some of the perceived issues that sometimes divide New Zealand’s urban and rural communities.

“Canterbury is a critical food bowl for the country and there’s no question that we have some challenges of our own. For example, demands for better land and water management make this a region with an imperative to transform and be innovative in the agricultural space. Indeed, local research organisations and universities view the region as a strong, living laboratory for how science can make a difference for New Zealand.”

Trevor says he wants to use real examples of how science is changing our everyday lives to engage visitors attending Grow Ō Tautahi. “I want visitors to be surprised, excited and inspired by what they

see. For many city people, agriculture has sometimes become a dirty word; but we and the sector are working together to actively improve these perceptions and practices. I don’t think there’s any farmer out there who isn’t fully connected to the land and doesn’t love it and doesn’t want land to be sustainable for generations.

“Grow Ō Tautahi is a platform to describe how aware science is of the issues we’re all facing. Visitors to Grow will learn that it is all inter-related – food, social license, the environment, Te Ao Māori and what we need to do to sort it all out.”

A full programme of AgResearch, Lincoln University and Environment Canterbury session topics will be available on the website,, soon.

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