Category Archives: permaculture

Farm Development

Kia ora friends, this is an update primarily for our past interns to show some of the infrastructure improvements we’ve made recently.

In order to comply with our resource consent we’ve added car parks at the top of the drive betwee n the market garden and the orchards. After doing that we decided to shift a shed up there to serve as a farm stand and tool storage closer to the market garden.

Coming down the drive at the bottom of the market garden is the homemade caravan that we built during Lock-Down last year.

Next is my favourite – the ‘Redneck BBQ’ – also building during Lock-Down.

The BBQ is located next to the outdoor dining space beside the house.

Topher is modeling the steps down to the pines that we also built during Lock-Down.

Recently we shifted the fence and gate along the upper farm track so that they are along the property boundary.

Just last week we put up deer netting next to the milking shed we built during Lock-Down so we can more easily manage the goats during milking or for other reasons.

We also shifted another fence line to allow easier access down the lower farm track.

Also last week we extended the wind netting for the avocado orchard in the valley.

Here are Topher and Baby and Luigi on the farm track below the manuka, flax, poplars and tree lucerne we planted five years ago.

Probably a few other things I’ve forgotten but that’ll do for an update. I’ll write a blog about the farm stand once it’s completed.

Addendum: I knew I would forget something(s). Below are the strawberry bed we built for Manu’s Lock-Down Birthday 5th April, 2020, as well as a tree fort I started during Lock-Down but finished last month with Manu’s help.

Peace, Estwing

9th Annual Permaculture Weekend: 11th-12th Sept.

Once again we are running the Whanganui Permaculture Weekend alongside The Festival of Adult Learning Ahurei Ākonga

6th-12th September: Festival of Adult Learning

Gardening, Fruit Tree Care, Composting, Bicycle Repair, and Healthy Home Workshops TBC

FREE

11th-12th September: 9th Annual Whanganui Permaculture Weekend

Farm Tour & Workshops including:

Permaculture ‘Show & Tell’

We’ve put together a list of some of the core components of a permaculture property and arranged a ‘Show & Tell’ walking tour. Topics include: no-dig gardening; potting bench and plant nursery; vertical growing & small spaces; preventing pests and diseases in fruit trees; best tools and how to use them (stirrup hoe; broad fork; scythe); hot composting; tree lucerne (Tagasaste); chicken tractors; browsing goats; creative reuse in building; outdoor kitchen including solar cooking, rocket stoves, and solar dehydrator. There will also be a discussion of our diverse income streams.

$50

Design & Build for High Performance Buildings. 

This hands-on workshop will focus on the Five ‘Must Haves’ for building energy efficient new homes or cosy sleep-outs. 

$70

Minimum numbers required for workshops to run.

Registration and non-refundable deposit essential. theecoschool@gmail.com

The Resilient Farm Tour: 24th April

On Kaitiaki Farm we’ve spent the last six years developing strategies to ‘climate proof’ our farm against the extremes of both drought and flood. These include: protecting slopes; planting the riparian corridor; wetland restoration; soil improvement; integrated plant/animal systems; multiple approaches to water management; diverse income streams; and more. 

Because of a diversity of land forms, slope aspects and micro-climates Kaitiaki Farm is an ideal place to learn many different and holistic approaches to land management. It is a walk-through textbook in permaculture.

24th April, 1-5pm. $60

Registration essential: theecoschool@gmail.com

Tutor: Nelson Lebo has been practicing permaculture for over 20 years.

Act Locally – share globally

2021 is shaping up to be a good year for The ECO School and Kaitiaki Farm. We’ve always believed in sharing our work widely through hundreds of blog posts and making our programmes affordable.

In addition, we’ve often received good media attention and early 2021 is no exception; including two mini-docs about some of our programmes (see links below) as well as a cover story in NZ Lifestyle Block.

Better Ancestors series Episode 2: A Better Way to Educate – The ECO School part 1

Better Ancestors series Episode 3: Can Permaculture Thinking Save Our Future – The ECO School part 2

For anyone interested in learning more about our offerings we have a full schedule of programmes for 2021: https://ecothriftylife.com/2020/12/22/2021-workshop-schedule/

Kia Kaha, Estwing

The Resilient Farm Tour 24th April

Extremes of climate put pressure on farmers and food production worldwide that is only expected to increase.

On Kaitiaki Farm we’ve spent the last six years developing strategies to ‘climate proof’ our farm against the extremes of both drought and flood. These include: protecting slopes; planting the riparian corridor; wetland restoration; soil improvement; multiple approaches to water management; diverse income streams; and more.

Because of a diversity of land forms, slope aspects and micro-climates Kaitiaki Farm is an ideal place to learn many different and holistic approaches to land management. It is a walk-through textbook in permaculture.

24th April, 1-5pm. $65

Registration essential: theecoschool@gmail.com

Kaitiaki Farm is a  5.1 hectare (13 acre) property located 4 km outside Whanganui, New Zealand. We operate as a mixed-use operation leveraging niche markets for annual crops, perennial crops, nursery trees and animals. 

Our primary interests lie in holistic land management, regenerative agriculture, market gardening, appropriate technology, renewable energy and human-scale solutions, as well as home building and renovation. 

New Year Permaculture Update

The farm is thriving as we enter 2021.

The 3,000+ trees we’ve planted have benefitted from recent summer rains, especially the stone and pip fruit orchard. Shown below are plums in the foreground and apples in the background.

Earlier this week we were gifted about 80 avocado, walnut and macadamia trees. We borrowed a friend’s van and took a day trip to Waikanae to collect them.

They’ve been placed in the back of the nursery for some TLC before being planted out. They join peach, oak, guava, fig, and olive saplings along with grape vines.

Meanwhile our avocado trees have set next season’s fruit while still hanging onto this season’s.

We’ve had an excellent garlic harvest this season and now it’s been hung to dry.

We’ll be selling organic seed garlic starting in April.

The goats are producing plenty of milk…

…and we’re making halloumi multiple times each week.

We’ve had two litters of piglets with another on the way.

Heaps of tomatoes, zucchinis, pumpkins and cucumbers in the ground but rabbits have eaten all of our beans and snap peas.

Lots more going on but to be honest I need to head out the door and get to work.

Peace, Estwing

Friends of the Eco School

2021 Membership: Individual $40; Whanau $50

Benefits:

2021 Permaculture Calendar

Organic Garlic Bulb

Family-Friendly Farm Day – Registration Required.

20% Discount off Plants

20% Discount off Workshops

10% off Consultation Services: Permaculture Design; Healthy Homes; New Build; Home Renovation

Bi-monthly e-updates.

Plus every Membership funds a Scholarship to a Workshop for a Community Services Card holder!

Workshops:

Whenua

Building Beautiful (garden) Beds

Easy Tomatoes and Pumpkins

Growing Great Garlic

Fruit Tree Pruning Basics

DIY Chicken Tractor

Reading the Landscape

Organic Gardening Master Class

Intro to Permaculture

Goats 101

Whare

The Affordable Eco Home

Dealing with Damp Sections

Double Glazing DIY Options

Solar Cookers & Dehydrators and Rocket Stoves

Plants:

Seed garlic

Black Boy Peach trees

Tree Lucerne (Tagasaste)

Strawberry Guava

Albany Surprise Grape

Flax

Join today! theecoschool@gmail.com

Equinox Permaculture Update

Kai ora koutou! What beautiful spring weather we have had the past three days!

The sunshine and warmth following recent rains have created the perfect conditions for new growth. Some signs of spring on our farm include: our black boy peach trees in full bloom;

last years peach stones beginning to germinate;

strawberries blossoming;

the broad beans not knocked over by the wind are flowering

Meanwhile our garlic is flourishing;

I have planted my early tomatoes;

and we have three new kid goats.

Peace, Estwing

The Power of Nature…and Community

It’s often advised to live on a property for a year before developing a permaculture design. After 11 months on our small farm, disaster struck.

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The 2015 flood swelled the Whanganui River and its feeder streams. This is from the New Zealand Herald at the time: “On Saturday, June 20, one month’s worth of rain fell on Wanganui in 24 hours. That night and early Sunday morning the surging Whananui River brought the worst flooding on record. The resultant flood saw the city cut off and about 400 people evacuated mainly in Putiki, Aramoho and Wanganui East. The Whanganui River breached its banks around midnight on Saturday, spilling floodwater into the central business district.”

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Two kilometres from Te Awa Tupua up a side valley, we set out on the morning of June 21st – 5 years ago – to survey the damage, which occurred in both the forms of slips and the loss of stream banks.

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The power of the flooding stream sheared off fencing wire.

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Here is the elevated stream on Sunday morning the 21st five years ago…

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…and now after fencing off and planting the stream corridor with over 2,000 natives.

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That weather event has been on my mind ever since. It has guided our priorities, decision making, spending, and significantly honed our approach to land design and management. I have written extensively about these topics over the last half decade, but in this post I want to reflect on the progress we’ve made and to thank those who’ve helped.

Kaitiakitanga

Before the storm event I had ordered 20 poplar poles from Horizons Regional Council but had not planted them yet – luckily as we would have lost some in the slips. But after the storm our ambitions for land protection expanded far beyond a handful of poplars, as did our relationship with Horizons, who came to the table with advice, financial support and hundreds of native plants.

Our relationship to the land shifted from one of management to one of kaitiakitanga – guardianship. This is from teara.govt.nz:  “Kaitiakitanga means guardianship and protection. It is a way of managing the environment, based on the Māori world view. A kaitiaki is a guardian. This can be a person or group that cares for an area such as a lake or forest.”

We felt a strong urge to protect, restore and enhance our land for the long term. Our priorities shifted from market gardening, raising lambs and a house cow to tree planting and water management. We’ve retired grazing areas and protected wetlands. During the last five years we’ve planted over 3,000 trees, shrubs, wetland grasses and flax in order to stabilise hillsides and stream banks. The efforts started with fencing off the stream with the financial help of Horizons Regional Council and the mad skills of my mate Gavo, who taught me how to brace posts and strain wires.

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Others slept on the job.

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To date we have strung about 2.5 kilometres of fence on the farm as part of our resilient management strategy, which has been thoroughly described in previous blog posts.

On Sunday we hosted our seventh planting bee in five years. We enjoy inviting ‘townies’ out to the farm to get their hands dirty and help our restoration efforts. Hundreds of students, children, parents and adult volunteers have participated. The events are less about getting so many trees planted and more about sharing our love of the land…and some yummy kai!

In addition to the native plantings we have planted 150 poplar poles supplied by Horizons and established a mixed fruit tree orchard, a hillside olive grove, and avocado orchard.

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Our first group: Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tupoho students.

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Before (above) & After (below)

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Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tupoho students.

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Before (above) & After with pig shelter (below)

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Before (above) & After (below)

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Before (above) & After (below)

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Before (above) & After (below)

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Before (above) & After (below)

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Before (above) & After (below)

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Before (above) & After (below)

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Arohanui and thanks to all the friends, interns and volunteers who have planted trees with us. Special thanks to Horizons Regional Council, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tupoho, Wanganui Garden Centre, Bunnings, Whanganui Collegiate School, YMCA Central, Springvale Play Centre, Rob Bartrum, Chris Cresswell, and Gavin Coveny. Chur.

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Peace, Estwing

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