Tag Archives: featured

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Rikke’s family farm in Denmark

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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?

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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

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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

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

Peace Estwing

Permaculture: Viewed from Above

After two and a half years on a worn out horse property, we are seeing progress. This paddock is slowly becoming a market garden above a swale with peaches, blueberries, key apple, feijoa, jerusalem artichoke, currants and pomegranate.

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In the extreme foreground in the photo below we have planted avocados among the tagasaste serving as nurse trees.

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The west side of this paddock has some heritage apple trees, persimmon, hazelnut trees, more peaches, raspberries, blackberries and boysenberries. At the top left of the frame beneath the power poles are black currants.

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The lower eastern paddock has a small hand-dug pond that holds 25,000 litres of water. The fence line to the upper eastern paddock has a new windbreak consisting of poplars and  harekeke (flax).

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Here is another photo that also shows the goats happily eating some prunings in the upper paddock. To the south of the goats (out of the photo) is the orchard with 80 mixed varieties of fruit trees.

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Our interns, Liz and Rikke, have been helping in the annual beds where we are growing tomatoes, corgette, pumpkins, potatoes and spaghetti squash. There are also some yakon in there. We recently harvested 1,500 garlic.

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Manu and Bee are supervising the interns. The dog named Boy is supervising ducklings in a tractor.

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With each passing week this place is looking less like a tired horse property and more like a permaculture farm.

Peace, Estwing

Amazing Abundance: 6 Years on 700 Square Metres

Six years ago we moved onto a weed infested rubbish tip. After a month we had planted a vege garden, fruit trees, nurse trees and natives.

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After six years it looks like this.

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In a coastal environment, the keys are wind protection and enhancing sandy soils.

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This was the same corner a year later.

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Wind protection is great for annuals too. This is a different fence line four years ago.

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That fence line now looks like this: apples, plums, grapes, guava, Jerusalem artichoke, and a small annual vegetable garden.

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The opposite corner of the section looked like this four years ago. Note the peach tree in the bottom left corner.

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And now.

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This area needed attention five years ago.

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And today: feijoas, apples, olives

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Reverse angle shot with firewood storage area in lower right corner.

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In front of the house where there was overgrown grass, lupine and pampas lilly of the valley – and a large pile of rubbish – there is a grisselinia hedge for privacy and eventually wind protection.

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This beautiful, super-abundant suburban permaculture property from scratch in six years has been included in David Holmgren’s RetroSuburbia project as the only case study outside of Australia.

A one-off tour/workshop on this property will be offered Sunday 12th February 1-4 PM.

Space is strictly limited.

Register: theecoschool at gmail dot com

 

Peace, Estwing

Kaitiaki Farm Work Study PDC Internship

 

Earn your Permaculture Design Certificate while working on a premier permaculture demonstration farm in New Zealand.

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Our work study internship programme is unique in the world of permaculture education in that it combines best practice teaching and learning with best practice regenerative land management.

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The programme balances content, process and reflection, while nurturing systems thinking skills. It’s about developing a way of thinking that recognizes the connections between diverse elements on the farm and how they interact in four dimensions (over time), along with the hands-on skills required to work effectively with cultivated ecologies.

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Kaitiaki Farm is an exemplar permaculture property that is blessed with a diverse array of microclimates and growing conditions. The 5.1 hectare (13 acre) property is located 4 km outside of Whanganui with a population of 43,000.

Along with holistic land management we also embrace appropriate technology, renewable energy and human-scale solutions.

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Many of our interns come with low or no rural skills. Motivation, a love of learning, and a strong work ethic are the most important elements for success at Kaitiaki.

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We spend a lot of time teaching and talking. This slows down our work but makes the internship what it is – an endless series of ‘teachable moments’. It is also the best way to earn a PDC. This type of learning experience is extremely rare anywhere in the world and would not come from a book or standard PDC course. That said, we have a huge library of great books and lots of connections locally and nationwide of practicing permaculturists.

Interns work three-ish full-ish days and two half days per week, with two days off.

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More details here: http://www.theecoschool.net/workstudy-permaculture-design-certificate.html

The ECO School

Whanganui, New Zealand

 

Inquiries: theecoschool at gmail dot com

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