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Christina Walker: The Milkman’s Paradox

Christina Walker: The Milkman’s Paradox

A Fulbright Exchange
By: Christina Walker

“Educational exchange can turn nations into people.” – U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright

On a warm autumn afternoon, hundreds of cows came marching towards the milking shed. It was a regular occurrence for the animals, for the workers, but not for me. After an hour of carefully placing suction pumps and dodging urine, my definition of “hard-earned” took on a deeper understanding.

New Zealand is currently a world leader in sustainable agriculture. During my year researching this field as a U.S. Fulbright scholar, the people brought this fact to life. The late-night trip to see thousands of glowworms nestled in native bush on the Dibley’s farm; feeding newborn calves along with Chris Paterson, her daughter-in-law, and grandson; meetings with the Collective, Council and stakeholders to discuss the future of their city. All of these moments and more allowed me to see that agricultural production is more than just a business, but a way of life.

As each community faces the debate between economic and environmental sustainability, the success of these debates will hinge upon the educational exchange of one person to another. It is my hope and expectation that Rotorua can be a beacon to the many communities that have already or will soon embark upon this discussion. And it is my honor to be welcomed by those who were willing to share their stories along this journey in “The Milkman’s Paradox”.
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The Milkman's Paradox from Christina Walker on Vimeo.

As the water quality of Lake Rotorua changes, so changes the lives of its surrounding dairy farmers. For over 10 years, farmers have engaged in a community-wide debate on nutrient limits to clean up the second largest lake in New Zealand’s North Island. This on-going process has left many with a feeling of uncertainty about the future of their business and their town. With new environmental regulations comes change on a social, economic, and cultural level. This documentary, produced by Fulbright scholar Christina Walker, explores how dairy farmers adapt amidst the changing landscape of what it means to farm sustainably.