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6th Annual Whanganui Permaculture Weekend

6th Annual Whanganui Permaculture Weekend

8th-9th September, 2018

Whanganui’s permaculture community offers up another great weekend of sharing and learning with two major themes this year: RetroSuburbia and Making & Doing.

RetroSuburbia

Celebrating David Holmgren’s new book, RetroSuburbia, there are offerings in each of the three ‘fields’ he uses to organise the text: Built, Biological and Behavioural. Lydia Harris, TVNZ columnist and author of Back to Basics, shares her knowledge and experience in the Behavioural Field with an amazing array of creative solutions on a tiny budget. Along the same lines, Nelson Lebo offers a workshop on the Built and Biological Fields on the site of one of the New Zealand’s most recognised RetroSuburban properties, the Eco-Thrifty Retrofit – the only property outside of Australia included as a RetroSuburbia case study: https://www.retrosuburbia.com/case-studies/eco-thrifty-retrofit-case-study/

 

Making & Doing

There’s a great range of hands-on offerings this year as well that include: Natural Cheese Making with Bronwynne Dowson Anderson; How To Grow Strong Healthy Seedlings with Louise Knight; Making Biochar with Shane Middlemiss; Sourdough Workshop: the basics with SourBros bakery; Keeping Backyard Chickens with Cyd Welsh; and, How to Build a Low-Cost Durable Chicken Tractor with the Kaitiaki Farm Interns.

 

River Traders Market, Farm Tour and Seed Swap

If you arrive early Saturday morning make sure to check out Whanganui’s famous River Traders Market and learn about our decades-old local currency, the River Exchange and Barter System. Sunday morning offers the opportunity to tour Kaitiaki Farm, a living and breathing permaculture textbook with examples of nearly everything permaculture. Finally, the Whanganui Seed Savers hold their annual Seed Swap on Sunday afternoon, wrapping up this incredible weekend.

We’d love to see you in Whonderful Whanganui in September.

 

Saturday, 8th September

9:00 – 1:00 – River Traders Market

Local Currency: River Exchange and Barter System

Resilience Products: Broad Forks, Solar Ovens, Rocket Stoves, Hula Hoes, Permaculture Calendars, RetroSuburbia Books, Permaculture Plants, and More!

10:00 – 11:00 Setting up a Home-Based Plant Nursery – Nelson Lebo. $10

Plant propagation can be fun and easy, and save you hundreds of dollars a year. See how we have set up our nursery for verge seedlings, fruit trees and natives.

Register: theecoschool@gmail.com

10:00 – 2:00 Natural Cheese Making – Bronwynne Dowson Anderson. $75

This teaches how to make cheese the natural way using raw milk, home grown cultures and not spending a fortune on equipment.

For each of these classes people will take home what we make. All ingredients provided and includes refreshments.

Register: kiwibokslady@gmail.com

11:00 – 12:30 How To Grow Strong Healthy Seedlings – Louise Knight. $10

In this workshop we will cover
– step by step from seed to planting out
– reasons why to grow your own
– helpful tools
– trouble shooting problems
– seed dormancy and ways to break it
– heirloom, hybrid and growing your own saved seed

Register: louise@ngileah.co.nz

11:00 – 1:00 RetroSuburbia: The Behavioural Field – Lydia Harris. Donation

Lydia Harris, TVNZ columnist, micro-entrepaneur, and author of Back to Basics, shares her knowledge and experience in the Behavioural Field with an amazing array of creative solutions on a tiny budget.

Register: nourished2018@yahoo.com

2:00 – 5:00 RetroSuburbia: The Built and Biological Fields Case Study – Nelson Lebo.

$50 with $10 discount on the book for attendees.

This workshop covers the most cost effective approaches to home renovation and edible landscaping. Using the Eco Thrifty Retrofit as a case study – https://www.retrosuburbia.com/case-studies/eco-thrifty-retrofit-case-study/ – attendees can expect to learn many of the strategies described in David Holmgren’s book.

Register: theecoschool@gmail.com

2:00 – 3:00 Making Biochar – Shane Middlemiss. $20

Biochar retains nutrients, water and microbes and is a fantastic amendment to poor soils like those with mainly sand or clay. Learn how to make your own in a low or no cost kiln and how to activate it for best effects. Complimentary sample bag of biochar included.

73 Virginia Road. Park on the roadside.

Register: shane@e-govwatch.org.nz

5:00 – 6:00 Live for the Land Open Day and Tour – Phil Holden. Donation

Come and plant some seeds in our nursery including a guided tour of the urban garden property . Learn of our bee keeping business and future plans .

Koha donation welcome and a plant to take home. 106 Matai Street, Castlecliff

6:00 – Shared Meal, 106 Matai Street, Castlecliff

 

* Overnight Accommodation Available. Inquiries: theecoschool@gmail.com

 

Sunday, 9th September

9:00 – 12:00 Kaitiaki Farm Tour – Nelson Lebo. $40

Ever since the Whanganui floods of 2015 we have focused on climate-proofing our farm to the greatest extent possible within a budget. We’ve employed dozens of techniques as part of our holistic four-dimensional design approach. The tour is an ideal case study demonstrating drought-proofing and flood-proofing simultaneously.

Register: theecoschool@gmail.com

9:00 – 3:30 Sourdough Workshop: the basics with SourBros bakery – John Wilson and Matt Ellingham. $30-40 (Pay what you can afford)

Experience the sourdough process from mixing through to shaping and baking in this hands-on workshop. We’ll be doing everything by hand so be prepared for sticky fingers!

While the dough rises, we’ll delve into the science of bread, the role of yeasts, bacteria and enzymes, creating recipes and managing time and temperature. There’ll also be tips on how to incorporate sourdough into your daily schedule and bake artisan loaves in your home oven.

The workshop includes two loaves that each participant will make themselves to take home afterwards and sourdough starter (please supply your own jar/container). Bring a plate for a shared lunch.

Place: Lucky bar, 53 Wilson St, Central, Whanganui. (bring a plate to share for lunch)

Register: john@sourbros.co.nz

10:00 – 2:00 Natural Cheese Making – Bronwynne Dowson Anderson. $75

This teaches how to make cheese the natural way using raw milk, home grown cultures and not spending a fortune on equipment.

For each of these classes people will take home what we make. All ingredients provided and includes refreshments.

Register: kiwibokslady@gmail.com

12:30 – 2:00 Keeping backyard chickens – Cyd Welsh and Nelson Lebo. $15

This workshop covers chicken breeds, characteristics, and common pests and diseases, as well as different approaches to care and management.

Register: theecoschool@gmail.com

2:00 – 3:00 How to build a low-cost durable chicken tractor – Kaitiaki Farm Interns. $10

Register: theecoschool@gmail.com

2:00 – 4:00 Annual Heirloom Seed Swap – Whanganui Seed Savers. Donation

This is a chance to meet other Whanganui gardeners and to swap surplus heirloom and open pollinated seed that you have bought or saved. It will be a relaxed, friendly gathering with a cup of tea to follow.  If you have seedlings or plants you would like to share please bring these along too. You don’t need to have seed to share in order to partake.

Bring:   Details of your seeds such as a description, variety, date saved/use by date and any other notes you would like to share. A pen and envelopes to take seed home in.

Quaker Meeting House, 256 Wicksteed Street.  
Queries: nangethepange@hotmail.com

3:00 – 4:00 Building Beautiful Garden Beds – Nelson Lebo. $10

Learn the cheapest, easiest and best way to prepare and build ‘No-Dig’ garden beds without the need of a rotary hoe or back-breaking digging!

Register: theecoschool@gmail.com

Produce No Waste: A Case Study in Building a Pig Shelter

One of the first skills we teach our interns is how to pull and straighten nails.

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Some interns describe this as the Karate Kid induction to Kaitiaki Farm, and call me ‘Mr. Miyagi’.

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Critics have challenged the notion straightening and reusing nails when they are so cheap to buy in the shops, but to me the intent and process go to the heart of permaculture. A huge amount of permaculture can be distilled into one word: mindfulness. Most of the permaculture principles are simply different ways to say, “Be mindful of…” Perhaps no more so than Produce No Waste.

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I bought some second-hand trusses this week from Reclaimed Timber Traders – an amazing social enterprise in Palmerston North that diverts construction demolition material from landfill and resells it to the public. I got a good price because they had not yet pulled the nails themselves.

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Along with some pre-loved 4x2s and roofing iron we carried the trusses down the hill to the plateau near our hives.

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Reusing the trusses made building the pig shelter quick and easy. As I told our interns, Dani and Felicity, “The key to building is a dry head, dry feet and diagonal bracing.”

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We made sure that the iron overhung all of the timber, that we blocked the structure off the ground with off-cuts of treated pine, and we braced it in all directions. “We are not building for a beautiful, calm day like today,” I told them. “Imagine a gale southerly blowing in the middle of the night. That’s what we’re building for.”

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The whole job took less than three hours from off-the trailer to completion – all while entertaining a three-year-old boy and six goats. The pigs paid us little interest, but hopefully they’ll appreciate the final product made entirely of reused materials save for the roofing screws.

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The 2.7 metre by 2.0 metre shelter cost a total of about $40.

Peace, Estwing

Late Autumn Permaculture Update

The rains have come and much of the ground is now saturated. Many of our pathways have taken on a distinctive brown colour.

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After being nearly dry this summer, the pond is filling.

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And I’ve taken the pump out of storage to pump out the swales as there is more rain in the forecast.

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We’ve planted some beds to winter vegetables…

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…and built new beds for garlic planting.

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Here are 2 & 1/2 cubic metres of compost ready for the garlic plantings starting later this month.

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This weekend marked eight weeks for our kunekune piglets and so six of them were sold to new homes. Here is one of the remaining three. No more fighting over the scraps!

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We have approximately 100 muscovies hatched this summer almost ready to be sold.

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And these nine are just two weeks old.

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Tractoring birds for the last three years has done wonders for improving soil quality and regrowth of favourable grasses.

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And finally, we say goodbye to our three fabulous interns, Karen, Vera and Ali. The next two interns arrive tomorrow.

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Peace Estwing

Designing for Climate Change III

In the previous two posts I wrote about the work we’ve put into restoring our riparian corridor and into stabilising our slopes. This final post is about work we’ve carried out on the plateau at the height of land to drought-proof and flood-proof our property simultaneously.

It’ll be impossible to explain everything we’re doing and why in a series of blog posts, but hopefully readers will get an idea of the intention behind our work: primarily slowing the flow of water during peak periods, storing water safely for later use; redirecting water away from vulnerable areas; planting trees that will hold the soil; planting drought-tolerant stock fodder; decompressing soils to improve their function; designing in seasonal change to our systems.

One way we slow flowing water high on our property is with a series of swales and a small pond. Most of the swales are in and around our market gardens.

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The image below is when we just started putting in beds from the top after building the swale at the bottom.

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This photo was taken a long time ago but shows the water very clearly in the mid-slope swale.

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This larger swale is at the bottom of the market gardens and is large enough to store significant amounts of water. In winter we have the option of using a submersible pump to direct water in a variety of directions depending on the forthcoming weather and other factors we may consider.

Again, this is a very old photo taken while we were digging the series of three basins connected by ditches on contour behind the earthen berm.

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Like all of the swales, we also dug the pond by hand with our interns.

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It currently holds 25,000 litres but each summer we dig it a little deeper. We’ve planted willow rods around it for goat fodder as needed.

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The clay soil that we dug out was shifted by wheelbarrow to stabilise a bank under some pines that were cut years ago. This is directly above a track which is vital to farm management. We buried the drain pipe and backfilled up to the base of the pine stumps.

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A lot of this work was prompted by the 2015 Whanganui flooding (shown above), which left us with slips including one above this track and directly underneath our home.

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We always try to direct water away from buildings. I wrote about this French drain recently.

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This former stable is at the height of land. When we arrived there was no guttering or spouting on the building and all the water was directed against the east side.

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I put up the gutters about three years ago and now we have three options for directing the water: in winter we can run it straight into the huge storm drain along the road…

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…in spring we can direct it into 15,000 litres worth of tanks inside the stable; and in summer we can pipe it out into the “mud pit” along the ridge but a good distance from the stables. This trickle feeds the paddock and orchard from the top in both directions.

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As an old horse property, the soils were compressed and sour when we arrived. We’ve spent a lot of time improving soil function, including liming and putting in the no till garden beds one by one.

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We’ve nearly reached the 2,000 milestone for native trees, shrubs and grasses, so I’ve turned my attention to planting more tagasaste about the place for superior drought tolerant stock fodder and shelter.

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All of these strategies work in conjunction in four dimensions. In total, it’s a great example of designing from patterns to detail, and is the primary lesson of our PDC Internship programme. Our interns may not go on to manage farms, but everyone of them will go on to live in a world of increasing extreme weather events.

Peace, Estwing

Designing for Climate Change II

In the first post I wrote about stabilising the stream banks and feeding out pollarded willows to the goats. I also mentioned the casuarina and cabbage trees planted in the riparian corridor. Here is an image of them.

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Much of this work designing for climate change came after the 2015 Whanganui floods. Here is a picture of the neighbours place the day after.

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This is the neighbour on the other side. Lots of dead sheep.

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But truth be told we had started our work before the June flood. As a matter of fact, just two days before the storm hit the Whanganui region I was finishing up a French drain around our home with the help of my daughter.

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Because it was mid-June we were also preparing our garlic for planting later that night.

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At least someone enjoyed the weather.

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Our calf, Heidi, weathered the storm down in the valley. Note the culvert that I am clearing in the image below and keep it in mind when viewing the image that follows.

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The willow in the foreground gives you the relative location of the culvert, which you can’t even see due to the extensive plantings along the stream following fencing off the riparian corridor.

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But this post should really be about the hillsides, where slips occur, and how to reduce the risks of future slipping. We have planted over 100 3-metre poplar poles that come from the regional government. They should be soaked for a week before planting 700 mm deep in mid-winter.

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We locate them mostly in the valleys where water is concentrated during storms.

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After three winters of planting, we are now up to the upper slopes. On the side of the farm with the goats we use tree guards and on the side with the kune kune pigs we do not use them.

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But I am told that it takes seven years for the roots of poplars to grow broad enough to hold the hillsides against slips, which raises the question: what to do during the intermediate years to prevent slips from taking out the poplars? Our answer has been targeted drainage.

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There are certain areas where we can capture concentrated surface runoff on the hillsides and leapfrog it over the most vulnerable slopes. This is not ideal, but may be a reality in a world of increasing extreme weather events.

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In summer we take the pipes down and store them under trees out of direct sunlight. This preserves the plastic pipes and retains water high on the landscape during the dry season. It is an expensive measure but part of what I call Triage Permaculture. Seasonally installing and dis-installing the pipes is part of what I call four-dimensional design management.

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Sadly, we’ve also had a neighbour dumping water onto our land illegally, which has caused an additional slip.

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Because they will not take responsibility for their own water as prescribed under The Building Act, I have had to put in a drain and a sump (made from a flower pot) and more plastic pipe to redirect the water away from the vulnerable area.

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We’ve also put in a surface drain to draw stormwater away from the top of the slip, which is dangerously close to a fence and a major farm track.

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This has all been a massive effort requiring tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours labour. But at the end of the day, if I want my children to inherit a resilient farm there really is no other option.

 

Peace, Estwing

Designing for Climate Change

Above all else, we design our farm for climate change. Primarily this means drought-proofing and flood-proofing simultaneously. While we employ many strategies along these lines, here is one that is very straight-forward.

In June, 2015 Whanganui experienced an extreme rain event that caused slips and erosion on our farm. In one area approximately 30 cubic metres of stream bank disappeared overnight.

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When we went to inspect it the next day we were awed by the destructive power of the water.

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The flood was so powerful is sheered fencing wire through pure tension.

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From that day – just 10 months into our ownership of the farm – our thinking about how to manage the 13 acre property took a drastic change. We fenced over 400 metres of stream, planted over 2,000 trees, and put in another 500 metres of fencing to exclude stock from sensitive areas.

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Along the stream we planted a host of native species including grasses and cabbage trees known for their fibrous root systems that hold soil in place. We also planted over 100 Australian casuarina, also known as sheoak and river oak.

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As an emergency measure we drove willow poles into the stream bank in the worst effected areas. We intended to use the willow and sheoak as stock fodder – easily pollarding it and dropping branches over the fence for eager goats.

Over the last two years the willows have grown up to the point where this week we were able to cut branches for the goats for the first time. Although we’re not in a drought at the moment this is the type of emergency stock feeding we’ve designed for in case of long periods with no rain.

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Willow is healthy stock fodder. Here is great link to a resource explaining all about it: https://beeflambnz.com/knowledge-hub/PDF/poplars-and-willows-fodder

At the end of the day, by fencing the stream and planting its riparian corridor with the proper species we are able to flood-proof and drought-proof this section of our farm simultaneously. In a future of increased extreme weather events it seems like the only viable option.

 

Peace, Estwing