Tag Archives: permaculture internship

Slow learning in an age of instant gratification

It takes eight weeks to earn a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) on Kaitiaki Farm. We are slow learners.

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 5.08.36 am

Holmgren’s 9th Principle, Use small and slow solutions, should especially be considered when it comes to teaching and learning. Humans learn slowly, and as our digital worlds speed up, the need for slow learning only increases.

Many PDC classes happen too fast with little time to reflect on the learning and little experiential learning. As someone who has spent their entire life as an educator with multiple education degrees, I steer clear of two-week residential PDCs.

That’s one reason we developed our eight-week PDC internship programme that includes total immersion in the patterns and flows of a permaculture farm. Alongside learning permaculture our interns are living permaculture.

Cultivating learners is what we do.

We start by pulling and straightening nails.

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 5.04.58 am

Holmgren’s 6th Principle, Produce no waste, is experienced by transforming materials that others have destined for landfill into valuable resources for future building projects.

Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 5.54.52 pm

We often straighten a nail and reuse it within a matter of minutes on the farm. Going back seven years, all ECO School interns have learned this as an essential first lesson.

Another skill taught on Day One is managing hot compost. We usually have three individual piles running: one we build through collecting materials; one that is ‘cooking’; and one that is finished and ready to use. Interns turn the active piles three times each week.

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 5.05.52 am

 

Finally, we emphasise the permanent in permaculture by planting and caring for trees, whether in the orchard or the zone 5 wetland we are establishing alongside Purua Stream.

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 5.06.09 am

 

Without fail, four to five weeks pass before we see lightbulb moments happening when interns really begin to understand holistic and four-dimensional design. That’s the payoff as an educator – when you know they get it.

Our PDC internships consist of a thousand teachable moments. 

One insightful intern said, “You really need to learn to do things properly because there is no control+Z function on the farm. You can’t Undo something with your fingertips.”

Indeed.

 

Peace, Estwing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: A Perfect Day to Pull Weeds

Editor’s Note: This is a post by our intern, Ivy, who just graduated from high school and is now earning her Permaculture Design Certificate with us.
Damp dirt squelching beneath my feet, blustery breeze dancing through my hair, soothing sun shining upon my face. The day brings perfect conditions on Kaitiaki Farm. We have headed down the hillside, ready for a morning of pulling weeds. With native trees speckling the vibrantly green grass, providing a contrasting texture to the sparkle of the trickling stream, the terrain is illuminated by the persevering sun breaking free through the clouds. Our trusty group of determined interns tramp through the grass, clamber over the fence, and meander our way down the stream, finally settling onto a shaded slope to start our work. Weeding, as simple of a practice as it may seem, is only one part of the intricate system that makes a permaculture farm thrive. It is a way of purging the unwanted invaders from leeching upon the nutrients of the soil, stealing from the plants that are actually supposed to be there. Due to the subsiding dampness of a dissipating winter, the past few weeks have been ideal to journey down the hill. Several important steps are involved in the weeding of each individual plant, and it is imperative to sufficiently carry out each step before moving onto the next tree. After removing the grasses and weeds from around the base of the tree,– including the particularly tenacious buttercup weed,–  the extirpated vegetation can then be used as mulch. By tucking it down next to the stem of the tree, it will not only lock moisture into the soil, but also act as a barrier to prevent more weeds from growing. This kind of clever resourcefulness and creative problem-solving is a key concept that closely follows the principles of permaculture. Turning a liability (the undesirable weeds) into an asset (a protective boundary for the natives).

Just as the sun progresses along its arc in the sky, so we progress along our path on the ridge. Worms erupt from the soil, spiders skitter across the leaves, insects leap back into the comfort of covered vegetation, all serving as reminders that the earth below my dirty fingertips is very much alive. Weeding is a rhythmic process, almost therapeutically so. There is nothing like the serenity of nature and the purity of the landscape to revitalize your senses, refresh your mind, and rejuvenate your soul. We yank the grasses from around each shrub, pat them gently around the base, and take a deep breath of fulfilled accomplishment. Then, we methodically move onto the following plant.

Yank. Pat. Breathe. Wild peacocks squawk in the distance, adding to the harmony of twittering bird calls.
Yank. Pat. Breathe. Windy gusts overflowing with the scents of flowers and forests and freshness drift through the air.
Yank. Pat. Breathe. We encouragingly shift as one, the three of us making our way across the hill to care for each tree.
 
Our hands are aching and our backs are sore, but our hearts are full. As we travel back up to the house, we take one last glance at the sprawling valley below. The view is, as always, breathtaking, and not just because the traverse up the hill is so steep. Although we cannot physically see much of a difference, we know that we have made a positive impact, and for that we feel satisfied.

 

Ivy, 18 years old.

Spring Permaculture Update

The equinox has come and gone, and it’s all go on the farm. Longer hours of day light and plenty of water in the ground have vegetation in overdrive. Luckily, three interns arrived last week to learn and help out on the farm.

Strawberries are forming.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 6.37.31 am

And plums.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 6.38.03 am

The garlic is high.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 6.36.30 am

And the grass.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 6.39.47 am

Hawthorn is blooming.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 6.38.27 am

And poplars are leafing out.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 6.38.54 am

Bees are swarming, so our contracted beekeeper came to divide his hives.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 6.40.20 am

The interns headed down the hillside to weed the young olive trees we planted this winter.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 6.40.44 am

Followed by a lesson in goat pedicure.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 6.42.14 am

And a dinner of solar chicken.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 6.41.43 am

Happy the sun has returned.

 

Peace, Estwing

A Handmade Pond

It took 10 months for us to dig a small pond on the farm.

DSCF0768

We started slowly – one wheelbarrow at a time.

DSCF0764

Deeper and deeper we dug.

DSCF2654

We took a break for a birthday party.

DSCF2686

Fun was had by all.

DSCF2712

We soaked willow cuttings for  six weeks…

DSCF2942

…and then planted them around the pond.

DSCF2938

The supervisor made sure it was done properly.

DSCF2943

Then it rained.

DSCF3293

The goats were excluded so that the willows could grow.

DSCF3307

Muscovies took up residence.

DSCF3038

And raised a family.

DSCF3036

The willows grew.

DSCF5156

And the bare paddock became a more diverse ecosystem.

DSCF6402

Six of our interns were involved in digging the pond and transporting soil to other landforms nearby. It is one of many approaches to water management we use on the farm that simultaneously drought-proof the land and reduce runoff during heavy rain events, which reduces erosion and slips, and helps protect those living downstream from flooding. Ponds and swales slow water moving across the landscape.

For our interns, the process of making the pond was a lesson in slow learning. We encourage slow learning on our farm – it is at the heart of our PDC internship programme. It’s a place where theory and practice come together in best practice teaching and learning – one shovel-full at a time.

Peace, Estwing

Three Years on the Land

After three years of good design and hard work, we have transformed a worn out horse property into one of New Zealand’s premier permaculture farms. Significantly, we have done this on a tiny budget and with no heavy equipment or contractors. A massive thanks goes out to our fantastic interns who have come from over a dozen countries to help with the ‘human-scale’ transformation of the land.

Kaitiaki Farm has a bit of everything permaculture: organic market gardens; perennial orchards; swales and ponds; tractored poultry; alternative energy; integrated food systems; wetland restoration; riparian corridors; innovative construction techniques; creative reuse; and community involvement.

Our education programmes are world-leading, most notably the eight-week PDC Work-Study Internship, which is fully enrolled until the middle of 2018. We believe that the highest quality education should be affordable for anyone, not just those who can afford to go to expensive weekend workshops.

We have been privileged and humbled to be educating the next generation of permaculturists who will change the world for the better. Our dedication to people and the planet will continue to guide the development of Kaitiaki Farm and the innovative programmes offered here.

Thanks to all our supporters over the years and we look forward to even greater success in the future!

Peace, Estwing

Permaculture Farm PDC Internship Intensive

Our interns booked in for the August/September internship programme have had last minute conflicts arise. We are in the position to offer a six week intensive (normally eight weeks) programme for the right person(s).

We believe in learning by doing. 

We believe in making education affordable.

Interns earn a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) through an experience of living permaculture on the land. During the August/September programme we will focus on animal care, planting trees, solar cooking, rocket stoves, eco-renovation, orchard management and market gardening.

There is a special emphasis on community education during this particular programme, which culminates with Adult Learners Eco-Literacy Week and the Whanganui Permaculture Weekend.

Dates: 30th July – 10th September.

Cost: $350

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

Contact: theecoschool at gmail dot com

 

Peace, Estwing

Early Winter Permaculture Update

We have had a busy autumn here on the farm with our three amazing interns. They left us last weekend after presenting their fabulous design projects.

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 6.32.52 am

After 10 weeks on the farm they have learned a ton about permaculture design.

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 6.32.09 am

Now, for the first time in eight months we do not have interns on the farm. It is a welcome break from continuously having to manage a group of eager helpers. We’ve shifted gears to a slower life with easy chores like drying apples. We had a very large harvest of Monty’s Surprise apples this year and are processing many of them through the solar dehydrator.

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 6.26.52 am

I made this a few months ago out of salvaged timber and an old shower door.

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 6.25.53 am

Before the interns left we made a good push to plant out our strawberries…

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 6.26.36 am

… but we had so many that I’ve had to pot a few dozen up this weekend. Too many strawberries? That’s my kind of problem!

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 6.26.20 am

We also made a good effort of planting garlic, but the process is not quite halfway done so far. I enjoy planting garlic and can take the next fortnight to chip away are the remainder of the 4,000 + cloves that we’re planting.

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 6.28.05 am

Other early winter things happening on the farm: ducklings?!?

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 6.27.41 am

We have cockerels to process once there is enough space in the freezer.

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 6.29.01 am

And the first lot of poplar poles was delivered by the regional council. But those can wait until the August internship begins.

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 6.26.12 am

Peace, Estwing