Category Archives: permaculture

Spring Permaculture Update: Part II

So much is happening on the farm these days that it won’t fit into one blog post. With three new interns and some dry, windy weather we are getting a lot of back-logged work done as well as seasonal chores. We recently expanded our annual beds…

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…and planted more tomatoes.

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We’ve patrolled for thistles, but after three years of manual control there are hardly any to be found.

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One of the first things we teach all new interns is pulling nails and salvaging timber.

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We’ve also been busy in the nursery.

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And planting native trees low on the property where soils stay moist year round.

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All hands on deck!

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Some other cool things happening on the farm are our first avocado flower buds forming.

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Our baby goats have become adolescent.

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And we have a new boar, but he’s still just a wee thing.

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Peace, Estwing

Spring Permaculture Update

The equinox has come and gone, and it’s all go on the farm. Longer hours of day light and plenty of water in the ground have vegetation in overdrive. Luckily, three interns arrived last week to learn and help out on the farm.

Strawberries are forming.

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And plums.

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The garlic is high.

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And the grass.

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Hawthorn is blooming.

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And poplars are leafing out.

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Bees are swarming, so our contracted beekeeper came to divide his hives.

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The interns headed down the hillside to weed the young olive trees we planted this winter.

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Followed by a lesson in goat pedicure.

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And a dinner of solar chicken.

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Happy the sun has returned.

 

Peace, Estwing

Regenerative Land Management: The Power of Plants

It’s been 13 months since we finished fencing our stream and had the first school group come for a planting day: Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Tupoho. Since then we have planted over 1,600 trees and plants with the help of three local schools, two community working bees, and 11 farm interns.

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What a difference a year makes!

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Last Year

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This Year

All of the work has been carried out with help from the forward-thinking and generous funding schemes administered by Horizons Regional Council. The final bill exceeds $10,000, and HRC has paid half of that. Thank you!

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Last Year

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This Year

For the most part Regional Councils manage environmental quality in New Zealand with a particular focus on water quality and flooding. By encouraging farmers to fence riparian corridors and plant native trees Regional Councils achieve both of these mandates in a holistic rather than reductionist manner. Other benefits include wildlife habitat and increased biological diversity.

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Last Year

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This Year

Thanks to a wet summer last year and the help of our farm interns – who hand weeded the native trees four times between October and April – the trees have thrived. As you can see from the images, some of the natives have tripled and quadrupled in size – in one year! The Horizons rural consultants said they had never seen anything like it when they came to do an audit in June. Of the 1,600 natives planted we’ve only found one that died.

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Last Year

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This Year

Given the investment of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of labour, there is a huge sense of satisfaction seeing the plants thriving. It was a big decision to fence off 15% of our land from stock and return it to native bush – permaculture zone 5. Looking at it now there are no regrets.

You can support the further planting of native trees along the stream – still about 600 to go – by purchasing a copy of the 2018 Permaculture Calendar. 100% of the income from New Zealand sales goes directly to this project.

2018 Permaculture Calendar Cover copy

Orders: theecoschool at gmail.com

 

Peace, Estwing

2018 Permaculture Calendar

For the fifth year we are distributing the Permaculture Principles calendar in New Zealand. The calendar is published in Australia using David Holmgren’s 12 permaculture principles.

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Our ‘business model’ for the calendar is based on the permaculture ethics. We practice “Fair Share” by offering the calendar at the lowest price worldwide, and we practice “Earth Care” by using all ‘profits’ to restore a stream corridor on our farm.

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Our strategy is not based on financial gain but on promoting permaculture through the informative and motivating calendar, and using the minor income to improve water quality and reduce storm damage in our region. It’s a win-win design.

2018 Permaculture Calendar Cover

The 2018 Permaculture Calendar, now in it’s 10th year, is ethically produced with the wholesome look and feel of post-consumer recycled paper printed with vegetable based inks. 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. Includes a handy rainfall / temperature chart to keep track of the years events and moon icons for north and south hemispheres. Read more about the calendar here.

Produced in Australia on 100% recycled paper using vegetable based inks. Size: A4 (210mm x 297mm) opening to A3.

$16 postage paid/ $14 pick up

Twin Pack $29 postage paid


Order From:  TheECOSchool@gmail.com

Peace, Estwing

Permaculture Plants

All plants are created equal – some are just more equal than others.

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For those who practice permaculture, certain plants are key elements for regenerative design, serving to: build soils; provide wind breaks as well as fodder for stock and bees; protect other plants from frost and excess sun; hold stream banks and hillsides; serve as firewood; and of course provide food.

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Tree lucerne (tagasaste) is a prime example of a permaculture plant. We use it on our farm to: fix nitrogen in the soil; protect young avocado trees from frost and sunburn; provide wind protection for the market gardens; feed bees and hungry mama goats.

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We plant hundreds each year so we propagate them ourselves on a regular basis.

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Another example that many farmers in our hilly region use is poplar in the form of 3 metre poles. They are used in slip-prone areas to stabilise slopes while stock is still present. Cows should be excluded for 3 to 4 years. The regional council subsidises the cost of them and offer free advice and which varieties to plant for different conditions.

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Poplars can also be used as wind breaks. We planted these just over a year ago between two paddocks. Those are willow wands planted around the duck pond.

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Along our stream we are planting  sheoak (casaurina), also called river oak in Australia because of its extensive root system.

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Cabbage trees are a NZ native that also help stabilise stream banks. We’ve planted hundreds over the last 18 months.

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We have found hawthorn growing on our hillsides. It has a number of useful traits.

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And finally, Jerusalem artichoke is another great permaculture plant. It’s an edible perennial that also produces a lot of organic matter above ground each year, which dies off in the winter. The tuber is the bit that’s eaten.

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Favouring perennials over annuals is central to permaculture design. While we also have market gardens, I find it more fulfilling these days to be working with perennials.

 

Peace, Estwing

Boredom Punctuated by Terror

It does not matter what the weather is like 99.9 percent of the time. The other bit can destroy roads, homes, lives and cities. Extreme weather events have been on the rise for over three decades and seem to be picking up in force and frequency in the last five years. The news provides a steady stream of such catastrophes. Climate scientists often call this, “an increased incidence of extreme weather events.”

Two months ago we had a strong wind event that brought down lots of branches on our farm.

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It only takes a few hours of high winds to do the damage.

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In April we had two rain events that caused a large slip – mostly due to a neighbour illegally dumping water onto our land.

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A major challenge for permaculturists is to design for extreme weather events. It will be the greatest challenge of our time. We are developing a resilient farm that can best resist both droughts and floods by turning liabilities into assets and buffering shocks.

Our garlic is high and dry – by design. All of our growing beds are raised rows perpendicular to slope with drainage on the ends.

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Meanwhile, this is how the Whanganui District Council responds – bulldozing wind- and wave-driven sand back into the Tasman Sea. Fighting climate change with diesel fuel! Good luck with that.

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Peace, Estwing

Kaitiaki Farm Tour – 10th September

Kaitiaki Farm is among the most diverse permaculture farms in New Zealand. Our holistic approach to land management includes all of the 13 acres – taking advantage of micro-climates, soil types, and hydrology.

The farm is opened twice a year to the public: September and March.

“Wow, totally inspiring.” – Tour Participant

As part of the 5th Annual Whanganui Permaculture Weekend we are offering a walking farm tour on Sunday 10th September from 9:30-12:30. The tour will cover: organic market gardening; the best tools for farm and garden management; tractoring fowl; water management; building soil fertility; wind breaks; orchard planning; erosion control; slope stabilisation; stock rotation; wetland restoration; and, eco-building.

223 No. 2 Line. Please park on the road. $25 per person.

Stay-and-Learn B&B packages available for out-of-town guests.

theecoschool at gmail.com