2017 in Review: Success Breeds Success

2017 was a year of extremes worldwide in terms of weather and politics. It has been tough on farmers in our region. But is has also been an incredibly successful year for The ECO School and Kaitiaki Farm.

Some highlights include:

Our PDC internship programme is the first of its kind and we are receiving amazing interns from around the world.

Our pre-school outdoor programme was a finalist in the WWF (NZ) Conservation Awards.

Our Eco-Thrifty Renovation project has been included in permaculture co-founder David Holmgren’s new book.

We surpassed 2,000 trees planted on the farm.

We ran a hugely successful Curtain Bank in Whanganui providing free curtains to nearly 100 families in two weeks.

For the fourth year we provided free workshops during Adult Learners Week.

We hosted the 5th Annual Whanganui Permaculture Weekend – attracting people from around the lower North Island.

And we are still growing the World’s Best Garlic.

A huge thanks goes out to the interns who have helped us achieve the vision of a resilient and productive farm. We couldn’t do it without you!

Peace, Estwing

Experiments in Zero Waste: Pretzels

Way back at the beginning of December we hosted an amazing and inspiring talk by Liam and Hannah from The Rubbish Trip. And we were…. well…. inspired! For the past month we (and our amazing team of interns) have been pushing ourselves to see what we can do to limit the amount of rubbish that leaves our farm. This has meant shifting our purchasing habits, thinking about what we can substitute and what we can do without. Follow along with our successes and fails as we aim for zero!

Right after hearing Hannah and Liam talk we came back and named our top priority. Looking at our rubbish I had noticed for a while that one of our main sources of non-recyclable plastics was bags of corn chips and pretzels. My kids love pretzels. We don’t do chips and packaged snacks really, so they are a staple lunch box item for us.

I asked myself the first question any good zero–waster would ask: Can I do without this item? Um, no. Definitely not. Carby, salty, snacks are a must. For the kids lunches? Yeah sure, but also mainly for me.

So, ok, onto next question. Can I make this item? I actually wasn’t sure. How are pretzels made? I’m sure there is dough, and baking, and maybe boiling(?) involved.

Well I found this recipe online and gave it a go.

Result: A big batch of homemade snacks in under an hour. I’m calling it a: SUCCESS!

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 4.08.24 pmI wouldn’t really call them pretzels, per say. We end up with crunchy little bread stick – type creations. But they are yum. Really yum. The perfect vehicle for shovelling hummus or nutella into your mouth.

The recipe definitely works, but it took us soooooo long to roll them out and do the egg wash (I don’t have a pastry brush!) that I have modified it a little.

The modifications I made in our second batch were:


Rolling the dough with a heavy rolling pin  slicing it into thin strips with a knife. I rolled it about 1/2 cm thick. They puff up during the baking process.

This gave us little pretzel sticks, but also allowed for some creative pretzel letter shapes.

Also, instead of brushing them with egg, I drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt. Once I go and buy a pastry brush I’ll give the egg wash another try.

This recipe was quick, easy, used ingredients I already had, and yielded enough for lunchboxes for the whole week. A definite win. Buh-bye store-bought pretzels.