Category Archives: Uncategorized

Transforming a Slope with Regenerative Agriculture

Over the past three years we have been working to make Kaitiaki Farm more productive and resilient. While there are lots of examples of this work on the farm, this is a good case study on what regenerative agriculture can look like using a step-by-step example of transforming a north-facing slope from grazing to a mixed-use perennial and animal system while including native plantings and early childhood learning programmes.

This ‘Before’ picture looks down the hillside into the valley at a shelf where the cows are grazing, a remnant wetland below it, and about one acre of native bush across the valley. We are lucky in that this may be the only native bush along Purua Stream for the entire length of the valley.

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This shot shows a working bee assembling a small shelter for the Nature Play programmes we have begun running on the farm.

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Here the shelter is nearly complete.

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Add children and sheep.

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Then came the massive task of fencing off about 600 metres of the stream to keep stock out of the water and off of the banks. Horizons Regional Council assisted this process by paying half the cost.

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Next we commenced planting the first of over 2,000 natives along the stream, which has involved three school groups and six planting bees. It’s possible to see some of the trees just over the fence in the picture below.

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By the way, we sold the cows as they proved too damaging of the steeper slopes in winter.

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Next we shifted the sheep to the other side of the farm so we could plant the mid-slope on the hill with olive trees that will be able to withstand the hot dry summers and northwest winds that blow up the valley. (Note the poplar pole in the photo below.)

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Here are three of our interns planting the olive trees in April 2017.

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Then we introduced kune kune pigs to eat the grass around the olive trees but not the trees themselves as the sheep and cows would.

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One of the final jobs to do was to fence off the shelf between the hillside and the wetland. This is the only part of the farm that has free-draining soil so we decided to put an avocado orchard there. We’ll temporarily fence out the pigs while the tagasaste nurse trees and avocado trees get established, then we’ll let them back in to graze the grass.

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Here is the final shot for now – taken last week: over 200 tagasaste saplings have been  planted on the shelf and the avocados are waiting until a canopy is formed; two litters of kune kune piglets have been born in the valley (note the pig shelters in the shot below); the 32 olive trees have been staked with warratahs on the hillside as the pigs were walking over some of them.

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On the upper slope (above the farm track in the photo above) we’ve planted native manuka, kanuka and flax, as well as more poplar poles and more tagasaste. On there slope above that are 30-year old radiata pines.

Can’t wait to plant those avocados and retire from my day job!

 

* FYI, here is a great definition of regenerative agriculture from Wikipedia:

Regenerative agriculture (RA) is an approach to food and farming systems that rejects pesticides, artificial fertilizers and aims to regenerate topsoil, increase biodiversity,[1] improve water cycles,[2] enhance ecosystem services, increase resilience to climate fluctuation and strengthen the health and vitality of farming and ranching communities.[3][4][5][6]

Regenerative agriculture is based on applied research and thinking that integrates organic farmingpermacultureagroecologyagroforestryrestoration ecologyKeyline design and holistic management.

On a regenerative farm biological production and ecological structure grow more complex over time. Yields increase while external inputs decrease. 

 

Peace, Estwing

Plastic-Free Playground

Special Edition for Plastic-Free July

My kids had been pestering me about getting a slide for ages, but I did not want to buy an expensive plastic one that at some point in the future would inevitably end up in landfill or somewhere worse due to long-term UV degradation and/or wear and tear. So I decided to make one out of wood and steel instead.

I had an off-cut of galv sheet leftover from flashing the flue for my new wood burner that I decided to use to make the slide. I figured out how I wanted it bent and took it to the boys at Steelform Wanganui. For a box of beer they bent it for me. (Chur Barnsey)

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Then I found some wood diverted from landfill by Reclaimed Timber Traders in Palmerston North that suited the dimensions I needed.

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I made the base for the slide out of pine and rimu

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As Kevin McCloud would say, “This needs to be millimetre perfect.”

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In the end it was the perfect compliment to the fort I made for them out of 100 year-old totara fence battens and driftwood on an existing garden structure.

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And a great compliment to the driftwood swing set I made a year earlier.

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Happy Plastic-Free July everyone!

Peace, Estwing

RetroSuburbia: The Built and Biological Fields

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 including: eco-renovation; passive solar design; solar energy; energy efficiency; wind protection; annual veggies; fruit trees; backyard fowl; and more.

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Before and After

Dr. Nelson Lebo is a leader in New Zealand’s green building movement. He has worked in the sustainability field for over 30 years. Nelson has an undergraduate degree in geology and environmental science, a Masters in education, and a PhD in science education, along with a Diploma in Permaculture.

Saturday 8th September  2:00 – 5:00  $50 with $10 discount on the book for attendees.

This tour is offered as part of Whanganui Permaculture Weekend. 

The Resilient Farm Tour

Severe weather is in the international news daily. Record forest fires and record flooding are happening simultaneously somewhere on Earth. In New Zealand, we face ever increasing damage and insurance claims due to extreme weather events. No part of the country will avoid the pressures brought on by climate change, especially those living rurally.

The resilient farm tour highlights many steps that can be taken to climate-proof a small farm or lifestyle block on a realistic budget. Topics included: drains, ponds and swales – where are they appropriate and where are they not; using drainage coil and pumps to your advantage; how to adjust to seasonal drought/flood cycles; how to protect stream banks and steep slopes; what species of trees and natives to plant where; wind as liability and as asset; how stock can work to your advantage or disadvantage; the role of Regional Councils; improving soil structure; protecting farm infrastructure; and more.

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Dr. Nelson Lebo has been farming off and on for 20 years. He has an undergraduate degree in geology and environmental science, a Masters in education, and a PhD in science education, along with a Diploma in Permaculture.

Sunday, 9th September  9:00 – 12:00  Kaitiaki Farm Tour –  $40

This tour is offered as part of Whanganui Permaculture Weekend. 

Puanga 2018

We had an amazing family event on the farm this weekend hosting the Kiwi Conservation Club with support from Forest and Bird. Among the great activities were tree planting, stream survey, farm tour, story telling, sing-along, campfire, games, and a traditional hangi for dinner. Young and old alike had an amazing time.

Highlights included finding an endangered species of fish and an eel in our stream, along with planting our 2,000th native plant over the last year and a half. Below are some images of the day.

 

Peace, Estwing

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.

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 – 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

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. Kaitiaki Farm, No. 2 Line.

Register: theecoschool@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

Kaitiaki Farm, No. 2 Line.

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. Putiki.

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. More details HERE.  Castlecliff.

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

 

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. The tour is an ideal case study demonstrating drought-proofing and flood-proofing simultaneously. For a list of topics please click HERE.  Kaitiaki Farm, No. 2 Line.

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. Kaitiaki Farm, No. 2 Line.

Register: theecoschool@gmail.com

2:00 – 3:00 How to build a low-cost durable chicken tractor – Kaitiaki Farm Interns. $10  Kaitiaki Farm, No. 2 Line.

Register: theecoschool@gmail.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! Kaitiaki Farm, No. 2 Line.

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