Editor’s Note: This is a post by our intern, Ivy, who just graduated from high school and is now earning her Permaculture Design Certificate with us.
Damp dirt squelching beneath my feet, blustery breeze dancing through my hair, soothing sun shining upon my face. The day brings perfect conditions on Kaitiaki Farm. We have headed down the hillside, ready for a morning of pulling weeds. With native trees speckling the vibrantly green grass, providing a contrasting texture to the sparkle of the trickling stream, the terrain is illuminated by the persevering sun breaking free through the clouds. Our trusty group of determined interns tramp through the grass, clamber over the fence, and meander our way down the stream, finally settling onto a shaded slope to start our work. Weeding, as simple of a practice as it may seem, is only one part of the intricate system that makes a permaculture farm thrive. It is a way of purging the unwanted invaders from leeching upon the nutrients of the soil, stealing from the plants that are actually supposed to be there. Due to the subsiding dampness of a dissipating winter, the past few weeks have been ideal to journey down the hill. Several important steps are involved in the weeding of each individual plant, and it is imperative to sufficiently carry out each step before moving onto the next tree. After removing the grasses and weeds from around the base of the tree,– including the particularly tenacious buttercup weed,– the extirpated vegetation can then be used as mulch. By tucking it down next to the stem of the tree, it will not only lock moisture into the soil, but also act as a barrier to prevent more weeds from growing. This kind of clever resourcefulness and creative problem-solving is a key concept that closely follows the principles of permaculture. Turning a liability (the undesirable weeds) into an asset (a protective boundary for the natives).
Just as the sun progresses along its arc in the sky, so we progress along our path on the ridge. Worms erupt from the soil, spiders skitter across the leaves, insects leap back into the comfort of covered vegetation, all serving as reminders that the earth below my dirty fingertips is very much alive. Weeding is a rhythmic process, almost therapeutically so. There is nothing like the serenity of nature and the purity of the landscape to revitalize your senses, refresh your mind, and rejuvenate your soul. We yank the grasses from around each shrub, pat them gently around the base, and take a deep breath of fulfilled accomplishment. Then, we methodically move onto the following plant.
Yank. Pat. Breathe. Wild peacocks squawk in the distance, adding to the harmony of twittering bird calls.
Yank. Pat. Breathe. Windy gusts overflowing with the scents of flowers and forests and freshness drift through the air.
Yank. Pat. Breathe. We encouragingly shift as one, the three of us making our way across the hill to care for each tree.
Our hands are aching and our backs are sore, but our hearts are full. As we travel back up to the house, we take one last glance at the sprawling valley below. The view is, as always, breathtaking, and not just because the traverse up the hill is so steep. Although we cannot physically see much of a difference, we know that we have made a positive impact, and for that we feel satisfied.
Ivy, 18 years old.