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An interview with the C-Wise Soil Storyteller and  Channel 9 Gardening Guru Neville Passmore.

By Nicole Bray

Neville is somewhat of a hidden treasure at C-Wise. For the last three years he has spearheaded our efforts to get the word out about the vital importance of soil carbon. When he’s not spruiking the C-Wise message far and wide, he’s an in-demand speaker at horticulture conferences around the world, familiar television gardening personality and the face of Bailey’s potting mix. He’s also a grandfather, which is really where his journey in to soil health began.

I had a quick chat with Nev to find out what ignited his passion for restoring soil carbon and asked him to name a few of his favourite gardening things too.

“Becoming a grandfather made me take stock of the world,” says Neville when I ask where it all started. “It made him focus on what the future might look like.”

He acknowledges that his generation made mistakes when it came to managing the land, and now wants to spend the rest of his life trying to undo as much damage as possible - a fairly noble goal by any standard. Climate change is set to make gardening and farming even harder in the future, so Nev has his work cut out for him. Fortunately, he’s in good company at C-Wise because we’re all pretty passionate about changing the world too.

Nev came to C-Wise after working with C-Wise co-founder Andy Gulliver on the Compost WA board. Eager to learn more about the composting process he describes as “alchemy”, Neville’s move to C-Wise helped him grow his understanding of the carbon cycle and the importance role soils play in fighting climate change. He’s now determined to change the public perception of composted products, allowing more people to embrace the restorative powers of this remarkable substance and simultaneously do something good for the planet.

With the tough carbon questions out of the way, I saw my opportunity to ask Nev some tough gardening questions. As Neville basically grew up in a garden (the previous two generations of his family were horticulturalists too), I wasn’t going to let him go lightly. They were tough questions alright, but they weren’t the ones he was expecting!

Neville, what’s your favourite plant?

NP: “Oooh, tough one, I love all plants. But, if I had to nail it to the wall, I’d have to say the lotus.”

NB: Why?

NP: “The lily. It’s one of the most beautiful flowers ever created.”

NB: So you’re a sucker for a pretty flower?

NP: “Absolutely.”

I know that you love exploring the wilderness,  but what’s your favourite place to holiday?

NP: Bali would have to win, I’ve been 32 times

NB: Wow, that’s quite a lot, why Bali?

NP: I just love the tropics and I feel at home amongst tropical plants. I was responsible for introducing a lot of tropical fruits in to the WA market, so I visited quite a bit. I remember sitting in a café and eating a salad out of a huge avocado, much bigger than the ones you get in Perth. At the time avocadoes in Australia could be $7 or $8, and this one cost about $2. I remember thinking- Ah, this is heaven.

What’s the best gardening tip you’ve ever been given?

NP:  That would have to be one from my Dad: always have a sharp pair of secateurs.

NB: Why?

NP: Because if you make a sharp cut, the plant is able to recover from that quicker than a jagged cut from a blunt pair.

NB: Like human skin?

NP: Exactly.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know our blogger better, but I’ll be handing the storytelling reigns back to Neville next week.  We are very pleased to announce that he’s going to be blogging in a new and more exciting way very soon.

Be notified when his new blog launches by sending an email to neville.passmore[at] with the subject: Add me to you blog list. In the meantime, keep a look out for more gardening and soil carbon stories here and on our facebook page.