Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

The Spice of Life

I’ve been growing garlic organically for two decades and this may have been the best harvest yet.

After a crop failure two years ago due to ‘rust’ I was considering giving up. But instead I made some alterations. Last years crop was small in quantity but huge in bulb size and amazing flavour.

This year was even better.

Here is a blog I wrote a number of years ago explaining some of my key strategies and techniques.

https://www.fix.com/blog/how-to-grow-garlic/https://www.fix.com/blog/how-to-grow-garlic/

The photo below is of three farm interns and our daughter taken four years ago.

We sell top quality organic seed garlic across New Zealand by post from April through July. Pre-orders welcome: theecoschool@gmail.com

Nga mihi, Estwing

2021 Workshop schedule

17th January: Reading the Landscape

Join us for a relaxed walk through the farm ‘reading’ what the land is telling us about soil, water, life and past events. How can this knowledge help us make the most of land restoration efforts?

3-4:30 pm. Bring boots and appropriate clothing. $20

14th February: Goats 101

Goat curious? This hands-on workshop explains what we have learned about keeping goats and the land healthy and productive. Includes diet, trimming hooves, worm management and milking.

2:30-4:30 pm. Includes milking and clipping hooves. $30

21st March: The Affordable Eco Home

This workshop covers key aspects of designing and building a new home in an urban or rural location including: orientation; energy performance; ventilation; windows & doors; insulation; minimising construction waste; designing for expansion; self-build options; waste water and composting toilets.

1:30-5:30 pm. Includes afternoon tea. $70

11th April: Building Garden Beds & Hot Composting

Less effort for a better result: this hands-on workshop explains how to build and manage low-maintenance weed-free vegetable beds, as well as a simple method for hot composting.

3-4:30 PM. Come prepared to get dirty. $20

23rd April: The Resilient Farm Tour

Extremes of climate put pressure on farmers worldwide. This tour explains some steps we’ve taken to ‘climate proof’ our farm over the last seven years and the amazing results.

1:30-5 pm. Followed by an optional meal. $60, + meal $25

16th May: Growing Great Garlic

We have been growing amazing organic garlic for two decades. This workshop explains how to ensure a great crop.

3-4:30 pm. With a free bulb of seed garlic and small bag of compost. $25

13th June: DIY Double Glazing Options

What are the pros and cons of each approach to double glazing and which is best for you? This workshop is a must for anyone considering upgrading their windows and doors.

3-4:30 pm. $20

Minimum numbers required for workshops to run.

Registration and non-refundable deposit essential.

WWOOFing at Kaitiaki Farm

Our PDC Internship is on hold for the time being but we are still keen to welcome helpers on the farm.

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.

We are looking for help with: annual gardening; plant propagation; tree planting; animal care; fencing/building; more.

Contact: 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

Kaitiaki Farm Weekend: 28th-29th November

After six years Kaitiaki Farm is thriving as a result of our regenerative practices . This is an opportunity to immerse yourself in holistic land management and eco design on one of New Zealand’s premier permaculture farms.

The weekend includes: farm tour; market gardening; fruit tree care; managing goats in a browse-based system; kune kune pigs in orchards; tractoring fowl in land management; climate-resilient farming; improving pasture health without heavy equipment or chemicals; stream corridor restoration; native plantings; water management; setting up a plant nursery; identifying niche markets; disease-resistant fruit trees; growing avocados in marginal conditions. Plus: solar cooking; rocket stoves;  important considerations about grey water and compost toilets; Building-Code compliant sleep-outs and tiny homes.

Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 4.35.17 pm

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.

Saturday 28th November, 1 pm – Sunday 29th November, 4 pm. Meals included. (We can help find accommodation.)

$170 per person with all meals included.

Individual sessions are also available below. 

Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 4.33.41 pm

Draft Schedule:

Saturday 28th Afternoon: 1 – 5 pm ($60)

Farm tour; climate-resilient farming; improving pasture health without heavy equipment or chemicals; stream corridor restoration; native plantings; working with your Regional Council; water management; managing goats in a browse-based system;

Sunday 29th Morning: 9 – 12 ($50)

Market gardening; fruit tree care; kune kune pigs in orchards; tractoring fowl in land management; setting up a plant nursery; identifying niche markets; disease-resistant fruit trees; growing avocados in marginal conditions.

Sunday 29th Afternoon: 12:30 – 4 pm ($50) Includes Solar Lunch.

Solar cooking; rocket stoves;  important considerations about grey water and compost toilets; Building-Code compliant sleep-outs and tiny homes.

Spaces are strictly limited. Registration essential. theecoschool@gmail.com

The Affordable Eco-Home: 12th September

This workshop is part of the 7th Annual Whanganui Permaculture Weekend. Screen Shot 2020-02-03 at 5.05.35 pm

Saturday 12th , 4-6 PM: Building an Affordable Eco-Home: Key Points.

This workshop covers key aspects of designing and building a new home in an urban or rural location including: orientation; materials; energy performance; ventilation; windows & doors; insulation; self-build options; reusing materials; waste water and composting toilets.

$45 p/p, $70 couples. Registration essential. theecoschool@gmail.com

 

Hands-On Design Workshop

Immerse yourself in the permaculture design process as part of an innovative new housing development on former horse paddocks.

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 5.58.08 am

Join us for a blank slate design exercise in the field. This workshop engages participants to consider environmental conditions, site factors and human needs to envision the development of a piece of land for multiple households in Aramoho/Papaiti, Whanganui.

Topics covered: sector analysis; zones; eco-home design; co-housing; shared infrastructure; water management; wastewater & compost toilets; bundling services; & more.

What is possible for an ambitious eco-development involving multiple households? Small groups will work on different possible developments and then present to the whole.

(*See continuing the conversation below.)

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 5.57.58 am

POSTPONED – New Date to be Determined

Sunday 6th, 2-4:30 PM + optional social gathering*

$45 individuals or $70 couples. Registration essential. theecoschool@gmail.com

* Continue the conversation afterward with the project initiators at a local pub.

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 5.57.38 am

 

6 Years Hard Yakka

We’ve reached our 6th anniversary on the land so I had a wander the other morning to capture some of our progress. We’ve focused on a number of areas over this time, primarily on fencing and planting the stream and hillsides to prevent erosion and slips. These efforts have been documented thoroughly in this blog so feel free to scroll through previous posts.

We’ve also worked hard on establishing animal systems to enhance our land management. This too has been thoroughly documented.

Early on we established an orchard and harakeke wind break, but it’s hard to see the deciduous fruit trees in winter. In this image you can see guava and feijoa and olives and loquat.

Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 4.35.27 pm

And finally there are the market gardens, which went on the back burner when we were doing all of the above.

I am particularly proud of the avocado mounds with tagasaste nurse trees. Four of these five trees are fruiting and nearly ready to harvest. Yum.

Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 4.33.41 pm

Yet it continues…

Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 4.35.37 pm

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.

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 6.59.28 am

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.23.55 am

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.22.04 am

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 6.58.31 am

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.”

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.22.41 am

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.

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.19.17 am

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.19.44 am

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 6.57.57 am

The power of the flooding stream sheared off fencing wire.

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 6.58.42 am

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

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.20.16 am

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

20200620_093248

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.

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.09.21 am

Others slept on the job.

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.02.17 am

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.

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.11.31 am

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.07.18 am

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

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.12.37 am

Before (above) & After (below)

20200620_09195020200620_092147

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tupoho students.

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.11.56 am

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

20200620_092413Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.11.19 am

Before (above) & After (below)

20200620_092441

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.10.00 am

Before (above) & After (below)

20200620_092838

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.23.55 am

Before (above) & After (below)

20200620_090351

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.21.37 am

Before (above) & After (below)

20200620_091027

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 6.57.06 am

Before (above) & After (below)

20200620_091548

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.05.09 am

Before (above) & After (below)

20200620_091305

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.

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 7.15.13 am

Peace, Estwing