Catching up with Viarni Bright of Good Place Orchard
A few weeks ago, we caught up with friend of Goodlids, Viarni Bright and her partner, Paddy at their lifestyle block amongst the orchards of Te Puke, Bay of Plenty. Viarni and Paddy have been hard at work restoring and renovating their property - with a strong focus on self-sustaining and maintaining their surrounding ecosystems!
Thanks so much for spending some time with us today! We’d love to start off by asking you what you’re really optimistic about right now?
Thanks for having me! 💚 I am really optimistic about the rest of 2022 – and life in general I suppose! Now more than ever I feel extremely grateful and lucky to be living the life I do here in NZ. I’m excited about this year, especially the changes I have ahead of me in my career and continuing to build our dream property.
You’ve been busy lately, working with your partner Paddy on your lifestyle block in Te Puke, can you tell us a bit about what you’ve done with the house and land so far!
We sure have! We got the keys to our first home together back in October and got straight into renovating the off-grid house. Surrounded by native bush, the 4h block had a 3-bedroom 'doer-upper' house with good bones but dated interior, and the land was a bit of an under-utilised mess. Since then, we have opened up the living space and turned it into a 2 bedroom with new kitchen, bathroom and basically gave everything a nice new freshen up. No part of the interior looks the same and it was so fun making it our own!
Outside we extended the deck and Paddy has been hard at work on all the land, moving trees, taking down a big dog kennel enclosure, converting containers to our temp garage, as well as flattening out land with machinery and prepping for the orchard which he has now built – soon we will have our Kiwi Berry’s to plant. We have both started to plant some new greenery and landscape but it’s definitely still a work in progress!
What are some of the guiding philosophies around how you have approached this project?
(Aside from the below) We knew it was a big project – so we had to take each day as it came and make sure we had fun as a couple while we did it! We knew everything would get done in time and didn’t want to pressure ourselves. In saying that, we’ve got a lot ticked off in the last 6 months – the important thing was to stop and smell the roses when we needed to and we certainly have! We love it here.
Has regeneration/sustainability always been something important for you personally, and how does this filter through to your every day life?
Our goal was to find land for an orchard, but wasn’t exactly to be off grid or semi self-sustainable. However when we saw this property it just felt right and all though a biiiiig job, we knew that’s what we wanted to work towards. We installed an updated solar system - as we aren’t connected to mains at all so our power only comes from solar, and our water supply is from the tank rainwater only. It is also our responsibility to look after our protected Native bush that surrounds the house, home to many native birds and a lovely bush walk to the river! We will soon plant some big veggie boxes to grow our own produce and eventually will have some chooks too.
Inside I tried to turn old things new again and purchase most of our furnishings second hand or NZ made. Same goes for my wardrobe where I can, and I have definitely been more conscious of the ethical & sustainability side of fashion over the past few years. Other things we do day to day are composting, buying NZ grown produce, using refillable cleaning products, choosing compostable plastic alternatives where ever possible and using a keep cup when we get a coffee. Little things add up but we certainly aren’t perfect!
What are your three favourite objects in your space?
1 - Our leather couch – I found it second hand online and it was the perfect fit and style for what I was going for. It’s probably the most complimented thing in our house and NZ made which was a win!
2 - The tiled checker cube – my favourite colour is yellow and Paddy’s Grandad made this for me when we moved in – so it’s a special object in the space.
3 – The wooden liquor cabinet – this was second hand too and perfect for my glass collection – a colourful and retro mix I have collected over the past few years.
Western Bay of Plenty is a great place for young creatives, and more and more young people seem to be congregating for the great lifestyle on offer - what do you love most about living in this area?
We moved out of central Mount Maunganui for more of a peaceful lifestyle, and to find a rural property like this one. But it’s only a 15-25 min drive away to the best beaches, great food spots and shops in Papamoa or the Mount! We are more isolated than most up here but simply being more surrounded by nature does wonders and you can feel that everywhere here. Our dogs Lady and Earl are living their best life. There’s so many local walks, waterfalls, rivers and lot’s close by to enjoy in your free time without the hustle and bustle of town. I know 4 or 5 young families who have also made the move and love it! I think Te Puke will change and grow for good a lot of the next few years.
What does a typical day look like for Viarni Bright?
For almost 3 years I have been the Brand Manager for The Avo Tree – so a ‘typical’ day is work for me! My role is varied so each day can look different, but I am often working on things like social media, marketing, website, developing new products, content creation, packaging, sales – all sorts! I work 8-4 so am able to come home and enjoy the late arvo with Paddy or catch up with friends (or more recently - do work on the house/land!)
Favourite Goodlids product?
Love my Flora tee! There’s nothing quite like a soft white t-shirt with a great print. All the hats are epic – my favourite is my orange Nice Lid and Paddy has a few on rotation too! We are long time lovers of Hemp goods.
Finally, what does 2022 hold for you?
I am actually starting a new role soon – as the Brand Manager of Bad Company Workspace. I will be based in the Mount Maunganui co-working space helping to grow the brand and community as we expand and soon enough open new locations around NZ. There is already a space in Wanaka too which opened a year ago. Super exciting change and new challenge for me.
Property wise we have an orchard to plant, which we are calling ‘Good Place’ orchard. There is lots more landscaping to do and I’m lucky to have Paddy by my side who puts in work every day. There is also an epic old wooden cabin on the edge of our property which we would love to turn into an Airbnb over time. We have accomplished a lot but still lots to go for 2022 – watch this space!