Category Archives: food forest

New Year Permaculture Update

Happy New Year. We are looking forward to a great 2016. There is so much going gone here at Kaitiaki. The plants and animals are hard at work rehabilitating this old horse property.

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The plums are days away…

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but the apples are still months away.

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These Monty’s Surprise apples won’t be ready until April.

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Our first crop of grapes is taking form.

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For me, one of the greatest feelings is being able to look at something I started nearly a year and a half ago, and is really taking shape now. I divided these harakeke flax during winter 2014 and planted them into a windbreak. Here they are today.

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Ultimately the netting will be taken down and replaced by the living wind break.

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I just finished a protected chick rearing area.

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Here is a mixed flock of chicks and ducklings.

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The food forest has gone from flood this winter to drought, but luckily we did get rain today.

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This is a reverse angle of the previous photo.

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A mixed flock of chooks and ducks manage the orchard.

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Sleeping on the job.  Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 3.39.34 pm

But at least someone is hard at it.

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Peace, Estwing

2016 Permaculture Principles Calendar and Moon Planting Guide

“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. Now with a rainfall / temperature chart.”

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Available in New Zealand only from The ECO School.

RRP: $18 post paid anywhere in NZ. Two for $32 post paid.

Bulk Discounts Available.

Available in Whanganui and Palmerston North at discounted rates for pick-up orders. Enquire.

To order, contact theecoschool at gmail.com

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“Organise your garden, your life and share your schedule with this deceptively simple but thought-provoking permaculture calendar – for your home or workplace. Illustrating one of the twelve permaculture design principles for each month, gives you the time to absorb them. Each example includes and image and story of locally appropriate sustainable living and design.

Including a planting guide that can help yield more productive crops and healthier plants by planning your garden activities according to the moon phases. Exact phase time changes along with daily icons enhance the traditional gardening rhythms that have been handed down over the centuries.”

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“The permaculture calendar is made from 100% post consumer recycled pulp on certified carbon neutral paper that is manufactured and printed in Australia using 100% renewable energy.

The calendar’s size and weight take advantage of standardised postage and reduced freight costs. Printing plates and paper waste are all recycled. Inks are vegetable based so don’t release unnecessary VOC’s into the atmosphere or require harmful solvents for clean up. Once the calendar has reached the end of its life you can recycle or compost it, hang the pictures, or keep it intact as a reminder of the principles and important events over the year.

While the production effort does a lot in limiting its impact on the earth and the people in the process, we’re also demonstrating the ethic of Fair Share by donating 10% of the net return from sales of the calendar to Permafund, supporting permaculture projects internationally.”

Peace, Estwing

Holistic Land Management: Permaculture Design in Motion

One year after arriving on this piece of land we are well on our way to developing a premier permaculture property. Like our model suburban permaculture project – the Eco-Thrifty Renovation – we intend to use this as a model for resilience education in our community and worldwide.

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We call this property Kaitiaki Farm. In Te Reo Maori, kaitiaki means guardian. It is the weightiest word I have ever come across in my life, and I do not take using it to name the farm lightly. If our first child had been a boy, Kaitiaki would have been his middle name.

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This extraordinary piece of land has all the makings of a textbook permaculture property and an excellent way to teach best practice in low-input / high productivity land management. It is also a great opportunity for those who want to learn by seeing a ‘work in progress’, I reckon there may be no better place in the world.

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From big concept ideas to specific details, Kaitiaki Farm is a living, breathing permaculture textbook. Most of us learn by doing, so why not consider coming along to the Whanganui Permaculture Weekend 12th-13th September (more details to follow) or coming to a full-day workshop on Sunday, 27th September.

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We believe in offering the highest quality resilience education and that money should not be a barrier to attendance. The Permaculture Weekend is free to attend, and all of our workshops run at half what others charge. When it comes to excellence in community resilience education, there should be no compromise.

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The workshop will cover many aspects of permaculture, including: designing for wind and water; tractoring birds; improving soil structure; composting; swales and drains; nurse trees; slope stabilisation; trees as fodder; pollarding firewood; alley cropping; drought-proofing; market gardening; developing and managing a food forest; scything; and more.

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Peace, Estwing

Permaculture Internship: July-September, 2015

We have been blessed with amazing interns over the last five years, and now we are looking for another. Dates are roughly the end of July through September.

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We are midway through developing a large (5 hectare) permaculture property and renovating an 80 year-old home.

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Our interns have cherished their time with us and still keep in touch.

Screen shot 2015-07-08 at 10.28.11 AMWe believe in hard work…

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…and fun.

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Our work has been featured in national and international magazines and websites.

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  We seek a highly-motivated individual who is keen to learn eco-design, holistic land management, organic agriculture and horticulture, green building, community organising, farm skills, and more.

Screen shot 2015-07-08 at 10.32.36 AM  Contact us on theecoschool  –  at — gmail  dot   com

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Dr. Nelson Lebo is a professional eco-design eductor. He holds a diploma in permaculture and is a recognized permaculture design educator.

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Peachy Keen

We have had a great peachy weekend. On Saturday we planted 10 of our peach trees that I raised from stones starting early last winter. Here they are next to a swale topped with tagasaste.

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We still have a dozen trees that we will give away and sell.  Screen shot 2015-03-01 at 6.10.45 PM

Here is Verti checking out the recent work.

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This is the reverse angle of the peaches and tagasaste.

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Verti watered the peach trees thoroughly.  Screen shot 2015-03-01 at 6.12.32 PM

On Sunday we went to our old house to pick some of the abundant Black Boy peaches.

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We picked this box and it hardly made a dent in the fruit still on the trees.

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Yum is all I can say.

 

Peace, Estwing

Early Summer Permaculture Update

This is the difference between climate and weather: while 2014 is on track to be the warmest year on record globally, we have had a long, cool, windy winter/spring here in the lower north island. The winds have been nearly relentless for the last 3 months, but the hours of daylight have increased on schedule. I’m getting up 5:00 or 5:30 am everyday now.

The biggest indicator of the cool weather is that our tomatoes are behind schedule.  Screen shot 2014-12-17 at 7.35.26 AM

Last year we had ripe tomatoes on the 13th of December. Two years ago it was the 20th. This year we might get them by Christmas. But it looks like we will definitely have courgettes by the weekend.

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We will certainly have potatoes for Christmas.

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Long term, we have pumpkins forming on the vine.

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We finally got the chook tractor into the fledgling food forest.

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Those birds have a big job to do.

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This apple has been transplanted from our last property.

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We also transplanted this dwarf nectarine. I thinned the fruit so we’re hoping to get a few good sized ones in the new year.

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Peace, Estwing

A Permaculture Food Forest in Three Years

While much of our eco-thrifty renovation involved converting an old villa into an energy efficient eco-home, we also put considerable effort into turning a rubbish tip into a Garden of Eden. Much of the latter work was guided by permaculture design.

The most visible difference between permaculture and what otherwise might just be called organic gardening is the presence of a “food forest.” The word permaculture was formed in the 1970s from a contraction of the words permanent and agriculture. The choice of these words represents the emphasis on perennial crops over annuals – in other words fruit trees over vege plants.

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  Before

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After

This is not to say that permaculture excludes growing annual veges like tomatoes, potatoes and pumpkins, it just tips the scales toward apples, peaches and feijoas. Among the reasons for this emphasis is that perennial crops require less tilling than annuals. Tilling disrupts natural soil ecosystems, can cause erosion, and requires lots of energy.

A food forest differs from an orchard in a couple of ways. First, it consists of a wide range of species and even a number of varieties within each species. For example, we have planted a food forest with apples, apricots, peaches, plums, feijoas, guavas, pears, figs, paw paws, olives, and nectarines. Among the apples, we have over a dozen varieties.

Second, permaculturists tend to choose cultivars that are resistant to diseases, making them easier to manage organically. For example, Black Boy peach trees tend to be more resistant to curly leaf than other varieties.

Alongside disease-resistance, another characteristic that might be selected for is storage life. I remember 15 years ago when I was buying my first apple trees I selected varieties that were both “good keepers” and blight resistant. With a cool cellar underneath my home (in the U.S.) the apples would remain fresh for many months with no specialized cooling equipment. Screen shot 2014-11-28 at 10.30.51 AM

Before

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After

Another characteristic of food forests is the presence of “nurse trees.” A nurse tree is one that provides services that help the fruit trees establish themselves and thrive. As the fruit trees grow up the nurse trees are pruned away.

Tagasaste (tree lucerne) is a common nurse tree. On our Castlecliff property we have used it extensively to nurture the fruit trees. Tagasaste is a preferred nurse tree for many reasons: it is fast growing – reaching a height of 2.5 metres in 18 months; it fixes nitrogen in the soil; it is relatively wind-tolerant and drought-tolerant; it’s foliage is good stock fodder; it’s flowers attract beneficial insects; it is a great chop-and-drop mulch for fruit trees; when it is no longer needed it can be cut down and burned as firewood.

Tagasaste is also a good companion for native saplings. For example, I inter-planted it with hebes and was amazed at how well the two grew together. At Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Tupoho I inter-planted tagaste with wind-hardy corokia and grisselinia around the outdoor play space for the kohanga. In the short term the tagasaste will protect the tamariki from wind and sun, but in the long term those roles will be filled by the slower growing natives.

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Before

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After

Along the same lines, in our food forest the fast-growing tagasaste provides much needed wind protection for the fruit trees until the natives take over that role. I often refer to this type of planning as four-dimensional design because it involves a distinct time element.

Another example of four-dimensional design in a food forest is integrating fowl such as chooks and ducks. We have successfully rotated our “ladies” through the whole of our Castlecliff property for pest control, ‘weed-eating’, and building soil fertility.

Next weekend we will be installing a food forest in Gonville, and thought it would be a great chance to offer a very hands-on workshop. See sidebar for details.

Peace, Estwing

 

Sidebar:

Food Forest Design and Installation

Sunday, 7th December, 3-5 pm.

Designing a food forest for wind, sun and water using fruit trees, natives and tagasaste.

Space is limited. Registration essential.

theecoschool@gmail.com, 06 344 5013