Category Archives: Uncategorized

Farm Design: The BIG Picture:

Thanks to a drone picture from our interns, I can explain a bit about our farm design from a different perspective. While this image only shows a small part of the farm it does capture an intersection of farm systems.

One of the first major changes we made on the farm was fence off a remnant wetland in 2016 and plant native grasses, flax, shrubs and trees. The aims are to improve water quality, control erosions, provide habitat, and increase biological diversity.

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 6.54.26 am

Next we bisected the valley with fencing and designated one side for goats and one side for kune kune pigs. On the goat side – where you can see the bee hives – we’ve planted around 50 poplar poles to stabilise the slopes. Each of these is protected by a heavy duty plastic sleeve to prevent the goats from stripping the bark.

On the pig side we have planted around 40 poplars, 32 olives, and 60 akeake trees, all of which are unprotected because the pigs eat grass but do not browse trees.

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 6.58.38 am

Next we fenced the rest of the stream, which goes far beyond the picture shown here. Along this stretch of stream we’ve planted primarily cabbage trees and Australian river oak (casuarina). Both are known to have fibrous root systems that are good at holding stream banks.

Part of this area contains a small hillside formerly covered in gorse and thistles, as well as another remnant wetland. We’ve planted more native trees, flax and willows there. This area can be used as an emergency browse block in case of severe drought.

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 7.00.45 am

The area under the pines provides seasonal grazing as needed. We can rotate the goats or  pigs through this area to rest other paddocks.

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 7.03.29 am

Most of the farm has poor soil drainage that does not suit avocado trees. But there is a shelf of land above the stream that has better drainage that will host 30 to 40 trees. We’ve fenced this area temporarily to establish tagasaste (tree lucerne) as a companion to the avocados.

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 7.06.16 am

The olives are on the dry and windy hillside above the avocados.

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 7.08.56 am

We planted 40 ake ake on a dry hillside on one side of the large poplars seen in the middle of the image and another 20 on the other side of them. Ake ake are well adapted to dry conditions.

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 7.12.23 am

In the short term we are having to hand water many of these trees, but in the long term they will contribute to the resilience of the farm. Trees help build resilience to both drought and flood. We’ve planted over 2,000 in the last four years.

At present the bees are managed by a contractor who pays us an annual fee. We have a good diversity of flowering plants that provide more-or-less year-round bee fodder.

Peace, Estwing

 

Progress

I never take enough “Before” pictures, but in this case I think I may have. Disaster can do that for you.

After the 2015 floods and land slips we changed the priorities on the farm, including planting 125 poplar poles (so far) on the slopes.

Before & After 2

The stream took a beating that day, but has recovered to a certain extent thanks to a whole lot of work by a whole lot of people.

Before & After 3

We fenced the stream off from stock in August, 2016 and since then have planted over 1,800 native trees, shrubs, grasses and flax along its banks.

Before & After 4

A big thanks goes out to Horizons Regional Council, our farm interns, school groups, and others who have helped plant and care for over 2,000 natives and counting.

Before & After 1

Arohanui, Estwing

Creating Magical Spaces for Children…and Adults

Sometimes I like to take a break from farm work and build cool things for my kids.

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 5.54.23 am

Yesterday morning was one such time. Taking a break from mid-summer’s chores in the market garden and orchard I grabbed my favourite materials – driftwood and number 8 wire – and started creating.

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 6.40.59 am

My intent was to give the story circle a greater sense grandeur and mystery by surrounding it with gnarly driftwood poles.

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 6.40.40 am

This is similar to what I did for the entrance to the playground two years ago.

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 6.49.50 am

We recently expanded the story circle and planted sunflowers around it. Come February it will look really cool.

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 6.40.13 am

What fun taking a break from growing food to release creative energy in a different way.

Here are some other examples of creative projects.

https://ecothriftylife.com/2015/12/17/creating-magical-moments-for-children-without-creating-rubbish/

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 6.02.35 am

 

https://ecothriftylife.com/2018/07/01/plastic-free-playground/

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 5.55.15 am

 

https://ecothriftylife.com/2017/01/04/backyard-driftwood-playground-wonderland/

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 6.02.16 am

 

https://ecothriftylife.com/2017/02/25/a-living-willow-bridge/

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 5.55.54 am

 

A much bigger project that has taken years to ‘build’ is the ‘nature play’ area along Purua Stream. It’s been 26 months since we finished fencing the stream and started planting the 2,000+ native trees, shrubs and grasses.

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 5.43.21 am

The native plants are thriving and have created a cozy nook where children explore nature on their own terms.

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 5.43.41 am

Children, teachers and parents can create lasting memories within this little ‘slice of heaven’ tucked along Purua Stream on Kaitiaki Farm.

 

Peace, Estwing

Solstice Permaculture Update

The longest day of the year has arrived in the southern hemisphere, and it is all on for Kaitiaki Farm. Some 200-odd fruit trees are setting fruit, including apples, apricots, American paw paw, blueberries, avocados, black currants, feijoas, figs, guavas, grapes, nectarines, olives, pears, plums, peaches, persimmons, prune, and quince.

Screen Shot 2018-12-19 at 4.15.57 pm

Screen Shot 2018-12-19 at 3.37.54 pm

Screen Shot 2018-12-21 at 6.57.23 amScreen Shot 2018-12-21 at 7.01.02 am

The market gardens are pumping.

Screen Shot 2018-12-21 at 6.56.53 am

Screen Shot 2018-12-21 at 6.57.43 am

We harvested the winter crop of broad beans and made about 10 litres of falafel mix.

Screen Shot 2018-12-19 at 1.16.15 pm

We have been milking three goats since September and making goats cheese twice a week.

Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 6.44.21 am

Here are the kids.

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 5.44.58 pm

Finally, we have been selling grape vines, peach trees, muscovy ducklings, kune kune pigs. Garlic goes on sale tomorrow.

Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 6.43.38 amScreen Shot 2018-12-11 at 6.43.57 am

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 5.45.40 pm

After 4 & 1/2 years, a kilometre of new fencing, and 2,500 trees planted the farm is hitting its stride. Our regenerative systems are in place and natural processes are now doing most of the work.

Happy Solstice, Estwing

Zero Tolerance Weeds

I have been farming and/or market gardening for nearly two decades. One of the first lessons I learned (the hard way) was the importance of proactive weed management. Bind weed (convolvulus) made its way onto my land (New Hampshire, USA) in a load of organic matter meant for composting.

Screen Shot 2018-12-17 at 6.38.29 am

On a tour of another small organic farm in Keene, New Hampshire, I observed first hand how it can take over entire fields of vegetable plants. Scary stuff.

Yesterday while top-feeding some transplanted feijoa trees I recognised the familiar pattern I had come to loath.

Screen Shot 2018-12-17 at 6.28.39 am

I dug it up as best I could to get as much of the root as possible.

Screen Shot 2018-12-17 at 6.28.19 am

I don’t believe in putting weeds and diseased plants in plastic rubbish bags and sending them to landfill as is often recommended – I just can’t do it. So I put the convolvulus in the solar dehydrator, which we are not actively using at the moment but will be using in another months time.

Screen Shot 2018-12-17 at 6.27.49 am

The hot, dry air inside the dehydrator will dry out and completely kill the weed. Then I’ll probably put it on an iron shed roof for the rest of the hot summer. No Mercy for invasive weeds.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keeping weeds off your farm with a Zero Tolerance policy early on will pay off in the long run.

 

Peace Estwing