Business Development Manager at Lightouch Solar, President Lennox Community Gardens,
Birthplace: Auckland, NZ
Family: wife Hélène, Mum Debbie, Dad John, sister Katie
Star Sign: Scorpio
Favourite Food: Masala Dosa
For many years, Jimi Gatland admits, he was a ‘hippy in a suit’. By day, he worked as a valuer and real estate agent (valuing and selling hotels and resorts in Auckland, Sydney and Brisbane) but by night he dreamed of a kinder and more sustainable world and hoped to one day play a part in realising this.
In his early years, Jimi’s main concern was animal welfare. He was a vegetarian from a young age, and outside of work, was active in the animal welfare movement. When he met his French wife Hélène – a keen environmentalist – at an Animal Liberation group meeting in Sydney, his interests broadened as the two shared their knowledge.
In 2012, Jimi decided to leave the corporate rat race and travel with Hélène to Asia to volunteer. Their first stop was Thailand where they worked with New Life Foundation – a drug and alcohol rehab centre run by Buddhist monks – where gardening was a key part of the therapy.
Next, they headed to Cambodia where they worked with Rainforest Alliance to help local villagers set up tourism ventures to replace the traditional industries of logging and bear hunting.
Finally, they landed in India, working for one of their environmental heroes – Dr Vandana Shiva – who gave up her life as a nuclear physicist to run a seed saving farm.
In each place their knowledge of food, farming, and sustainability grew.
They went on to spend a year in France, where Jimi learned Hélène’s native tongue and more about her French heritage.
When the time came to decide on where to live next, they agreed on the Northern Rivers and fell in love with Lennox Head at first sight.
Fast forward to today, the couple are married and run a family day care called Le Cocon which focuses on health, sustainability and French language and culture. Over the past six months, Jimi and his friend Steven Harris constructed a space for a second family day care, which is due to open this month (see ad on Page 27).
In addition to lending a hand at Le Cocon, much of Jimi’s time recently has been taken up with the struggle to establish a community garden in Lennox Head. To his delight (and relief), that was achieved this month, when the gardens were officially approved by Council and a plot allocated in Ocean Breeze Reserve.
He also works with his friend Tim Hodgson at his company Light Touch Solar & Electrical. Jimi says he sees this as his way of ‘saving the world one panel at a time.’
Best thing about working with the Community Gardens?
Creating positive outcomes for people and the environment.
Worst thing? Waiting, but that’s over now and we look forward to exciting times ahead.
Hobbies? Gardening, cooking
Work Life Philosophy? Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.