Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sector Analysis: You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows

After the permaculture ethics, one of the first things we cover with new interns is sector analysis.

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 6.04.38 am

Sector analysis is a great way to start talking about sun angles and seasonal patterns. Many people are totally unaware of the differences between summer and winter sunrise and sunset angles.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 12.15.36 pm

It is especially important to understand winter midday sun angles if you want to embrace passive solar design. For example, we increased the size of our kitchen window in order to get more winter sunlight into the previously dark and cold room.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 12.18.59 pm

It’s also important to know summer midday sun angles in order to exclude the sun from overheating your home or for solar water heating for a swimming pool. We placed these PV panels to maximise summer sun energy as a dedicated summer domestic water heater. (We use a wood stove “wetback” to heat our water in winter.)

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 12.10.24 pm

Another major natural factor we deal with here is wind. One of the first things we did when we arrived 2 and 1/2 years ago was put up wind protection before we planted an orchard.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 12.14.25 pm

The netting is a short-term solution while the harekeke (flax) is the long-term solution to protect the trees from the prevailing northwest winds. It is hard to over-emphasise the importance of wind protection for fruit trees.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 12.20.00 pm

Sector analysis helps our interns to understand the big picture of our farm and the holistic design and management plans we have developed along the lines of regenerative agriculture.

 

Peace, Estwing

The Free PDC: Permaculture Design Certificate

Is it possible that the best permaculture learning experience is also the most affordable? Absolutely.

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 8.35.45 pm

We awarded our first ever PDC qualifications yesterday afternoon after Rikke and Liz presented their amazing projects.

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 8.35.59 pm

Here is a look at the designs each of them did for their respective parents’ properties in Denmark and rural Illinois (USA).

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 8.36.37 pm

Rikke’s family farm in Denmark

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 8.36.21 pm

Liz’s parents’ ‘retirement’ property in Illinois

Both young women have been living and working with us for the summer growing season as part of our internship programme on Kaitiaki Farm. We have hosted 16 interns over the last two and a half years as we transform the worn out horse property into an exemplar permaculture farm. Interns have stayed for eight to 16 weeks.

Rikke arrived just in time for the garlic harvest in December when Oliver and James were still here.

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 7.20.21 am

Liz arrived in early January. Here is a look at their classroom.

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 7.18.47 am

Yesterday was a landmark day for us as we took another step in realising our vision of providing outstanding educational experiences affordably. Liz and Rikke paid nothing for their PDC – a course that usually costs $2,000 to $2,400 in New Zealand. Granted, they ‘paid’ for the course with their efforts on the farm, but that is also the best kind of learning – and endless series of ‘teachable moments’ and design discussions in a real-world context.

We are proud of their accomplishments this summer.

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 8.35.22 pm

While we cannot continue to offer a free PDC, now that the pilot work-study PDC is complete we are ready for the next intake of interns starting…tonight. We will continue to offer affordable top-notch education, just not for naught.

But for now, these two young women can boast of something extraordinary.

 

Peace, Estwing

Late Summer Permaculture Update

Sorry we have not posted a ‘permaculture update’ in ages. We’ve been busy with our great interns plus this is the busiest time of year for fruit and vegetable production.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 7.12.44 am

As always, our summer crops focus on tomatoes and squash/pumpkin.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 7.13.14 am

Lots of Black Boy peaches and Monty’s Surprise apples.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 7.14.27 am

The yakon we planted is going well.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 7.13.39 am

The first Jerusalem Artichoke are flowering.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 7.25.08 am

After pruning, the avocados are showing new growth.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 7.14.45 am

We’ve got trays and trays of tagasaste going.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 7.15.15 am

On the animal front, the flock of muscovies has grown dramatically with over one hundred ducklings hatched.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 7.24.52 am

We have a Billy now so we hope to have kids in five to six months time.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 7.25.32 am

And appears we may have piglets any day.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 7.25.57 am

Peace, Estwing

Solar Power: When, How and Where is it Right for You?

Passive solar home design is always a good idea, but if you’re not building or renovating what are the best choices for using solar energy at home?

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 6.14.25 am

We are offering a pair of workshops on solar power both low-tech and high-tech.

Sunday, 26th March 2017

Whanganui, New Zealand

Workshop 1) Solar and Alternative Cooking for Fun or Emergency.

Emergency preparedness is just as important as day-to-day sustainable living in a volatile world where power outages are possible without warning. We will cover a variety of solar cookers, rocket stoves, and ‘the best solar dehydrator’ design. 4-5 pm. $10

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 7.19.52 amScreen Shot 2017-02-27 at 6.50.28 am

Workshop 2) Solar Electricity and Solar Hot Water: Making informed investment decisions.

There is a lot of hype and misinformation when it comes to domestic solar energy. The bottom line is that it may not be a sound economic investment for most NZ households. Find out if and how it may be right for you? 5-6 pm. $20

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 2.38.18 pm

Space is limited. Preregistration essential. theecoschool at gmail dot com.

Peace Estwing

Selling a Dream: Outstanding Permaculture Property

Could this be the best value permaculture property in New Zealand?

Lovingly renovated seaside villa combines old and new to achieve a sunny, warm, dry and comfortable home while retaining distinctive retro character.

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-8-32-08-am

Over the three years we lived here our power bills averaged $26 per month while running a refrigerator, freezer, washer, hob, jug, wifi, etc, and enjoying abundant hot water.

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-8-13-44-am

Much of the interior features native hardwood built-ins such as this three and a half metre rimu shelf unit.

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-8-14-41-am

And this bespoke totara and rimu vanity.

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-8-18-32-am

The kitchen features hardwood shelving with antique lead light doors and vintage light shades, along with a new Tasmanian oak floor and cosy old school Shacklock cooker.

screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-6-50-37-am

With great indoor/outdoor flow, the living spaces are bright and airy throughout the day.

screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-6-51-23-am

A pizza oven and vege gardens are just outside the French doors.

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-8-16-19-am

The private back yard is lined with fruit trees and natives while retaining enough lawn for a play.

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-8-28-33-am

Over 30 productive fruit trees fill the 700 square metre section.

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-8-27-49-am

Grapes and Jerusalem artichoke fill the spaces in between.

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-8-27-32-am

New roof, new cladding, insulation and solar hot water are among the features of this highly resilient home.

screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-6-48-32-am

This property has been featured by the national and international media and represents a gold standard in suburban permaculture. The renovation is the only case study outside of Australia to be included in David Holmgren’s current project: RetroSuburbia.

All of this can be yours for 85% less than the average bog standard Auckland home.

Enquiries through the blog’s home page. Or comment.

Peace, Estwing

A Living Willow Bridge

“If you’re not having fun, there’s something wrong with the design.”

I can’t remember where or when I heard that, but I’ve always recognised it as true when applied to developing permaculture properties both large and small. Regenerative land management is hard work and burn out is a real possibility. Pacing oneself, enjoying the work, laughing and playing are hugely important. We embrace all of it at Kaitiaki Farm.

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-6-20-28-am

Back in September when we were planting hundreds of native trees along our stream we had to cut back some willows. We could have discarded them but that would have been no fun. We planted them instead to form a bridge for the children involved in the Kaitiaki Forest Preschool Programme.

dscf3718

Not much later they came to life.

dscf3719

Not much later branches were growing.

dscf3803

And growing.

dscf3880

And growing.

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-6-21-31-am

And growing.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-8-02-25-am

Once the branches were long enough, I pruned out most of them and wove the rest together.

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-6-20-11-am

The chief engineer turned up to do some strength testing.

screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-6-17-09-am

When work is play it’s effortless.

Peace, Estwing

Permaculture Case Study: A Spring-Fed Water Trough

One challenge we have faced while fencing off our stream from stock has been supplying them with drinking water on the far side. (This is part of our wetland restoration and stream protection project: https://ecothriftylife.com/2017/02/01/world-wetlands-day/  )

Here are three ladies shading themselves near the stream on the valley floor.

screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-6-31-09-am

After fencing the entire stream we put in a Taranaki Gate to get stock across a few times each year. Obviously they are not drinking from the stream anymore, so we needed to figure out a way to keep them watered. One option was running the farm’s bore water to them, but that would have taken a bit of time and money.

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-2-17-37-pm

The far side of Purua Stream has a large number of springs, so I decided to do a little experiment.

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-6-40-34-am

I located a spot just below the spring source and dug a small hole.

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-6-37-08-am

I cut a six metre section of plastic pipe and placed one end in the hole. I drilled holes on the sides and top of the pipe and raised it off the bottom with twine and a broken fence post. These steps will help prevent soil getting in the pipe and clogging it.

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-6-49-49-am

The pipe runs downhill to a second hand bath.

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-6-50-10-am

Knowing how mischievous cows are, I used warratahs to hold the pipe in place and then the interns covered it with gorse branches that they were cutting nearby. The tub filled overnight and has worked brilliantly since.

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-2-11-57-pm

This is what the spring-fed trough looks like from across the stream with the pipe covered with thorny gorse branches.

screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-1-40-16-pm

This is what it looks like from higher up the valley. This photo shows the cows near the trough.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-8-00-02-am

This simple and elegant system is a great example of what permaculture design thinking is all about.

Peace, Estwing