Permaculture Weekend 2016

The 4th Annual Whanganui Permaculture Weekend is less than a month away. Here is the schedule.

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Saturday, 10th September

9-12 Tools for a Resilient Household: permaculture calendars, broad forks, solar ovens, rocket stoves, permaculture books, and stirrup hoes. REBS Stall, River Market

10-11 Introduction to organic gardening and fruit tree care, Nelson Lebo, Moutoa Gardens

11-1 Rope Making and Rourou Making, Tracey Young, River Market. Meet river side of i-site.

1-3 New UCOL Programmes: Bee Keeping and Organic Gardening. Jake Schultz. Room E-2-15, UCOL Complex, Taupo Quay

2-5 Organic Gardening Master Class. Nelson Lebo. Registration and fee:

2.30-3.30 Composting workshops – Theory – Hadi Gurton, 83 Maria Place Extensio

3.45-5 Composting workshop – Practical  – Rachel Rose, 77 Anzac Parade.


Sunday, 11th September

8:30-10 Permaculture in Schools. Richard Pedley, Wanganui Collegiate School

10-12 Matai Street Community Garden Tour and Working Bee. Phil Holden. Matai Street. By donation

12:30-2 DIY Weta Hotels for children. Dani Lebo, 223 No. 2 Line. Materials fee

2-4 Seed Swap. Whanganui Seed Savers. Quaker Meeting House, 256 Wicksteed St. By donation

3-5:30 Wetland Restoration Working Bee. 223 No. 2 Line

6-7:30 Shared Meal, 217 No. 2 Line

7:30-8:30 Film: Origin of the Apple, 217 No. 2 Line


Signs of Spring

After weeks of rain and a very cold snap, it suddenly feels and looks a little like Spring: the plum trees are budding; the tagasaste are in full flower; bumble bees abound; the poplar poles have all been set on the slopes; there is new growth on the kei apples; the garlic is up and away; and, some strawberries have even started fruiting. Our resident kereru oversees it all.

Equally important, I spent half a day outside yesterday without my gum boots. Ah, signs of spring.


Peace, Estwing

Permaculture Ethics and Design

My observations are that the eco design methodology known as permaculture suffers in two fundamental ways: a confusing name and dogmatic application by inexperienced converts.

The name is the name – no changing it at this point – and there is no antidote for dogma. But for a general audience of readers I’d like to lay out the ethics and practice of permaculture using two concrete examples.

When engaging with permaculture as a design methodology, practicioners are bound to follow a basic set of ethics: care for the environment; care for people; share surplus resources. I appreciate this ethical code because it helps distinguish a permaculturist from anyone else who may be involved in the ‘sustainability movement’ such as an organic gardener, recycler, green builder, eco-activist.

This is not to say that a permaculturist cannot engage in all of these, but that anyone who practices one or more than these is not necessarily engaging with the permaculture ethics.

I also appreciate the ethics because they are an integral part of the design process. For example, the ‘pop-up curtain bank’ that recently opened in our community is a direct application of the permaculture ethics. Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 7.38.32 am

Sharing surplus resources: Members of the community who have curtains they no longer require can drop them off and members of the community who need curtains can pick them up. Like any bank it accepts deposits and grants withdrawals.

Caring for people: It’s no secret that most of the housing in our city is substandard: cold and/or damp. These unhealthy homes are especially hard on children and seniors. Getting properly installed curtains, insulating blinds and window blankets into as many homes as possible helps make the occupants more comfortable and healthier.

Care for the earth: Improving the ‘thermal envelope’ of a home is the best way to save energy required for heating and cooling. Saving energy is generally considered good for the environment.

The other example I’ll share is a direct application of eco-design: imitating nature to develop or reestablish robust ecological systems. The latter of these is sometimes called ‘regenerative design’.

We are in the process of reestablishing a wetland on our farm and protecting streams from stock. Additionally, we are planting native trees and poplar poles on steep hillsides to prevent slips and erosion. Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 7.54.04 am

All of this work is supported by Horizons Regional Council, which offers expert advice, low-cost poplar poles, and in some cases funding for fencing and plantings. I cannot speak highly enough of these programmes.

Forests and wetlands play important roles in moderating seasonal water flows across large land areas. In other words they store water high on the landscape during wet periods and release it slowly during dry periods. It works like a bank by accepting deposits and granting withdrawals.

Much of the farmland in our region suffers from extreme weather on both ends – wet and dry. Neither is good for stock, nor for farmers, nor for water quality, nor for anyone living downstream. The reasons are clear: not enough trees on hillsides and streamsides.

The solution is to build resilient waterways by imitating nature, or in other words engaging in eco design. Projects like ours are the most direct way that landowners and the wider community can address the extreme weather events associated with a volatile and changing climate.

The restoration work we are doing on our farm will help – to a tiny degree – everyone who lives and works downstream and downriver from us.

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So, in a nutshell, what this is all about is developing alternative banking systems – stream banks and curtain banks – and getting the community involved. This is what resilience is all about, and it is the heart and soul of permaculture design thinking.

If you are the least bit concerned about healthier homes and climate change, you too can get involved.

Please donate clean curtains and Roman blinds to the Curtain Bank before 5th August: 91 Guyton St.

Please donate native trees to the Kaitiaki Wetland Restoration by popping into the Wanganui Garden Centre before 17th August: 95 Gonville Ave.


Peace, Estwing

Remaining Currant

About a year ago I got a request from a friend to prune her black currant bushes. She has lots of them.

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After I finished, I took the prunings home to distribute to other friends and to propagate for ourselves.

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Now that they have been in the garden for a year establishing their root systems, we’ve transplanted them out into two rows, each about 20 metres long. They are just budding out now.

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Looking forward to a big harvest, but will probably have to wait until December, 2017 to get anything like this.

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Peace, Estwing

2017 Permaculture Principles Calendar

Another year – Another amazing calendar!

$16 postage paid/ $13 pick up

Twin Pack $21  postage paid

Proceeds from NZ sales go to support wetland restoration at Kaitiaki Farm.  

Order From:

The 2017 Permaculture Calendar, now in it’s 9th year, is ethically produced with the wholesome look and feel of post-consumer recycled paper printed with vegetable based inks. Internationally relevant and filled with inspirational and thought provoking images that support and reinforce your values every day of the year.

Learn each of the 12 design principles over the course of a month and be reminded of suitable garden activities with daily icons and phase times according to our moon planting guide. Includes a handy rainfall / temperature chart to keep track of the years events and moon icons for north and south hemispheres. 

Produced in Australia on 100% recycled paper using vegetable based inks. 10% of net return donated to Permafund. Size: A4 (210mm x 297mm) opening to A3.