All posts by Estwing

Progress

I never take enough “Before” pictures, but in this case I think I may have. Disaster can do that for you.

After the 2015 floods and land slips we changed the priorities on the farm, including planting 125 poplar poles (so far) on the slopes.

Before & After 2

The stream took a beating that day, but has recovered to a certain extent thanks to a whole lot of work by a whole lot of people.

Before & After 3

We fenced the stream off from stock in 2016 and have planted over 1,800 native plants along its banks.

Before & After 4

A big thanks goes out to Horizons Regional Council, our farm interns, school groups, and others who have helped plant and care for over 2,000 natives and counting.

Before & After 1

Arohanui, Estwing

Creating Magical Spaces for Children…and Adults

Sometimes I like to take a break from farm work and build cool things for my kids.

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Yesterday morning was one such time. Taking a break from mid-summer’s chores in the market garden and orchard I grabbed my favourite materials – driftwood and number 8 wire – and started creating.

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My intent was to give the story circle a greater sense grandeur and mystery by surrounding it with gnarly driftwood poles.

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This is similar to what I did for the entrance to the playground two years ago.

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We recently expanded the story circle and planted sunflowers around it. Come February it will look really cool.

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What fun taking a break from growing food to release creative energy in a different way.

Here are some other examples of creative projects.

https://ecothriftylife.com/2015/12/17/creating-magical-moments-for-children-without-creating-rubbish/

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https://ecothriftylife.com/2018/07/01/plastic-free-playground/

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https://ecothriftylife.com/2017/01/04/backyard-driftwood-playground-wonderland/

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https://ecothriftylife.com/2017/02/25/a-living-willow-bridge/

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A much bigger project that has taken years to ‘build’ is the ‘nature play’ area along Purua Stream. It’s been 26 months since we finished fencing the stream and started planting the 2,000+ native trees, shrubs and grasses.

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The native plants are thriving and have created a cozy nook where children explore nature on their own terms.

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Children, teachers and parents can create lasting memories within this little ‘slice of heaven’ tucked along Purua Stream on Kaitiaki Farm.

 

Peace, Estwing

Solstice Permaculture Update

The longest day of the year has arrived in the southern hemisphere, and it is all on for Kaitiaki Farm. Some 200-odd fruit trees are setting fruit, including apples, apricots, American paw paw, blueberries, avocados, black currants, feijoas, figs, guavas, grapes, nectarines, olives, pears, plums, peaches, persimmons, prune, and quince.

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The market gardens are pumping.

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We harvested the winter crop of broad beans and made about 10 litres of falafel mix.

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We have been milking three goats since September and making goats cheese twice a week.

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Here are the kids.

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Finally, we have been selling grape vines, peach trees, muscovy ducklings, kune kune pigs. Garlic goes on sale tomorrow.

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After 4 & 1/2 years, a kilometre of new fencing, and 2,500 trees planted the farm is hitting its stride. Our regenerative systems are in place and natural processes are now doing most of the work.

Happy Solstice, Estwing

Zero Tolerance Weeds

I have been farming and/or market gardening for nearly two decades. One of the first lessons I learned (the hard way) was the importance of proactive weed management. Bind weed (convolvulus) made its way onto my land (New Hampshire, USA) in a load of organic matter meant for composting.

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On a tour of another small organic farm in Keene, New Hampshire, I observed first hand how it can take over entire fields of vegetable plants. Scary stuff.

Yesterday while top-feeding some transplanted feijoa trees I recognised the familiar pattern I had come to loath.

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I dug it up as best I could to get as much of the root as possible.

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I don’t believe in putting weeds and diseased plants in plastic rubbish bags and sending them to landfill as is often recommended – I just can’t do it. So I put the convolvulus in the solar dehydrator, which we are not actively using at the moment but will be using in another months time.

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The hot, dry air inside the dehydrator will dry out and completely kill the weed. Then I’ll probably put it on an iron shed roof for the rest of the hot summer. No Mercy for invasive weeds.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keeping weeds off your farm with a Zero Tolerance policy early on will pay off in the long run.

 

Peace Estwing

Kaitiaki Farm Weekend 2019: 23rd-24th March

We open the farm to tours twice a year: March and September.

Kaitiaki is an exemplar permaculture farm just outside Whanganui, New Zealand. The farm is managed holistically for food production, land restoration and water management. We focus on resilient farming and regenerative agriculture.

 

Saturday 23rd March

12:30-2:00. Innovative Cookers and Dehydrators. This hands-on workshop covers the use and construction solar dehydrators and rocket stoves and demonstrates three different solar cookers.

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2:00-3:30. Building and Managing Weed-Free Garden Beds. This hands-on workshop covers all the steps for converting a lawn or paddock easily into a low-maintenance/high-productivity garden.

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4:00-5:00. Growing Great Garlic. Learn some tips for growing delicious garlic organically. Fee includes one bulb of seed garlic and five litres of compost.

$20 each or $50 for all three.

Meals and accommodation available. Please inquire for options and prices.

 

Sunday 24th March

9:00-3:00. Permaculture Farm Tour. We run a fully-integrated diverse operation on 5.1 hectares integrating plants and animals in distinct relationships based on potential synergies.

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The morning session covers what would be considered permaculture zones 0 – 3 focusing on eco-building and alternative energy, market gardening, hot composting, tractoring fowl, soil fertility, water management, wind breaks, and orchard planning.

The afternoon session covers what would be considered permaculture zones 3 – 5 focusing on water management, erosion control, slope and stream bank stabilization, browse blocks/pollarding stock fodder, and wetland restoration.

$75 Individuals, $120 Couples. Includes Lunch.

Register: theecoschool@ gmail dot com

Location: Okoia, Whanganui.

Primary Tutor: Dr. Nelson Lebo is an eco design professional with two decades experience in permaculture.

Bush Restoration: Permaculture Zone 5

It’s been two years since we fenced off and started planting the stream and remnant wetland on our farm to native species, with 2,000 plants in the ground thanks largely to Horizons Regional Council, our farm interns, and local schools.

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Before fencing and planting the stream was in rough shape. Our stock was grazing up to the water line and putting pressure on the banks.

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This is a photo of the day after the 2015 floods showing the culvert just below a bend in Purua Stream. The water overtopped the culvert by almost half a metre.

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This is a photo of the same area this month. Note the two large willow trees in each photo.

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We have dedicated this area, which is used for outdoor education with children, to Dr. Chris Cresswell who helped plant trees here two years ago. We call the area “Chris Cressant” because of the bend in the stream.

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This week we found a giant kokopu living in the pool underneath the culvert. Screen Shot 2018-10-25 at 5.57.07 am

In June we found an eel just upstream of the culvert, which appears to indicate that the concrete rubble ‘fish ladder’ we built has been effective at allowing aquatic species to get through the formerly ‘perched culvert’ and upstream to the restored wetland.

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Horizons is back again arranging more school plantings along Purua Stream on our farm and hopefully other land owners will do the same. What a difference it will make for everyone living downstream, which includes much of the Whanganui community.

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To get your school involved contact Horizons Regional Council or contact us at Kaitiaki Farm, www.theecoschool.net

Peace, Estwing