Tag Archives: regenerative agriculture

Permaculture Farm Internship

Earn a Permaculture Design Certificate on one of New Zealand’s best permaculture farms.

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

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, along with the hands-on skills required to work effectively with cultivated ecologies.

3RD JANUARY, 2023 – 8 WEEKS WITH A WEEK OFF IN THE MIDDLE. $850
CLIMATE RESILIENCE PDC
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN ECO-DESIGN FOR CLIMATE RESILIENCE – WORKING WITH NATURE INSTEAD OF AGAINST IT. THIS PDC FOCUSES ON ECOLOGICAL LAND MANAGEMENT, REGENERATIVE FARMING, WATER MANAGEMENT, ECO HOUSING, APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY, HUMAN-SCALE APPROACHES,AND TRANSPORT ALONG WITH THE FULL PDC CURRICULUM. 

7TH MARCH, 2023 – 8 WEEKS WITH A WEEK OFF IN THE MIDDLE. $850 
ABUNDANCE PDC
AUTUMN IS A GREAT TIME TO BE ON THE FARM WITH HEAPS OF FRESH KAI FROM THE ORCHARD, GARDENS AND ANIMALS. THIS PDC FOCUSES ON GROWING, PROCESSING AND PRESERVING KAI ALONG WITH ANIMAL CARE, BUSH RESTORATION, AND SOME ECO-BUILDING PROJECTS. 

Free Programmes 2022 – 2023

We’re excited to be working with Horizons Regional Council and the Whanganui Learning Centre to develop a programme based around community climate resilience in the areas of whare, whenua, and whanau.

2022-2023 Schedule

These events are free for residents of the Horizons region.
Partial funding comes from Horizons Regional Council.
Spaces limited. Register: theecoschool@gmail.com

Stormwater without the Mansplaining
24th August, 5:30-7:30 pm
Whanganui Learning Centre, 232 Wicksteed St. Masks Required.
Do you have a damp home? Occasional flooding on your section? Pooling under your home?
This programme explains the ins and outs of stormwater and the various factors effecting it, as well as how it impacts on individual households and how residents can address it affordably and effectively.

Managing Marginal Land in/for Winter
August 28, 2-4 pm. Registration essential.
We’ve spent the last 8 years managing our land for too much and too little water. It’s in great shape and we’re opening the farm gate for a tour.

Holistic Land Management– Tour
October 16th, 9:30 – 12:30 am. Registration essential.
Farm Tour of Paddocks and Hillsides, Non-Intensive Orchards, Stream Restoration, Bush Restoration, and Browse Block (Permaculture Zones 3-5). Includes water management, preventing slips, managing gorse, silvopasture, integrating poplar and willow, managing goats and kunekune pigs.

Climate Camp for Teens
29-30 October Postponed until March
Kaitiaki Farm, Okoia, Whanganui
Open to teens from the entire Horizons Region. 
Supporting and empowering teens in the face of increasing extreme weather events caused by human-induced climate change. 

Family Climate Fair
13 November, 1-3 pm.
Whanganui Intermediate School Hall
Empowering families to support one another to embrace more sustainable and resilient lifestyles. 
Activities, information tables, kai, speakers, group discussions, bike repair, games, toy & clothing swap, creating a bulk buying network & more

Family meet-up: Kowhai Park Fun & Games
December 10th, 12:00-3:00
A relaxed family-friendly alternative to the “silly season.” Bring an example of a low-waste lunch. Bike repair tools will be on site. 

Family meet-up: Bike, Bus to the Beach
January 7th, 11:00-3:00
Two-wheeled hikoi from the city bridge to Castlecliff Beach, or take the bus from Trafalgar Square. Then a big play day in the sand! (Bus leaves Trafalgar Square at 11:45 and leaves Castlecliff at 3:00.)

The Low-Carbon – High Efficiency – Affordable Home
January 15th, 2:00-4:00. Registration essential.
This workshop helps demystify the home-building process for climate resilience and affordability. Topics include passive solar design, super-insulation, high performance windows, and where to claw back cost savings. 

Keeping Cool During a Heat Wave
January 18th, 5:30-7:00
Whanganui Learning Centre, 232 Wicksteed St.
Too hot to sleep? We’ll share some ideas on how to keep your home as cool as possible without breaking the bank. 

Family meet-up
January 29th, TBD

Love Your Land Day
16 February, 10 – 2:30. Registration essential.
Come along for a farm tour and speakers. BYO Lunch. 
Topics include: holistic land management; regenerative agriculture; riparian corridors; bush restoration; growing browse for stock; carbon credits; more

Building Resilience on Your Land
April TBD. Registration essential.

Healthy Homes for Healthcare & Social Workers
April/May TBC
Whanganui Regional Health Network
This programme helps  healthcare and social workers to empower families improve the health and comfort of their homes. 
Register with Angela Weekly at the Whanganui Regional Health Network.

Register: theecoschool@gmail.com
Kia Kaha!

Read All About It

Over the last few years I’ve been blogging less and writing for publication more. Below are some of those articles about our holistic approach for farming and home renovation that are available online:

https://www.buildmagazine.org.nz/articles/show/from-tent-to-toasty-home

Peace, Estwing

Climate Resilience PDC Internship

Immerse yourself in eco-design for climate resilience on a thriving permaculture farm outside of Whanganui. We take a systems approach to managing the farm holistically to maximise carbon sequestration and minimise carbon emissions.

This PDC focuses on ecological land management, regenerative agriculture, water management, eco-housing – both building and retrofit, appropriate technology, human-scale approaches and transport along with the full PDC curriculum.

5th January 2022 – 8 WEEKS WITH A WEEK OFF IN THE MIDDLE. ($700) 

From a recent intern: “I’ve just completed my 2 month PDC at the Eco School and have had an absolutely sensational time. If you want to learn how to become a permaculture home-steader FOR REAL, skip the two weeks of PowerPoint presentations offered elsewhere, and come get fully immersed in the lifestyle. Dani and Nelson have got the art of sustainable living down pat, and both are an absolute gold-mine of knowledge to be tapped. I left knowing how to do everything from preparing and planting garden beds; to raising livestock; milking and cheese-making; harvesting and preserving; butchering, baking (no candle-stick making…); DIY and carpentry. Essentially, we covered in incredible depth the art and science of ecology and land regeneration, as well as all the principles of design and analysis vital to making permaculture work properly. It was like being back at uni, except this time I was learning something useful (and deeply fascinating).”  – Harry

Fat Goats in a Drought

Turning liabilities into assets is a full-time job on our farm. The 2015 floods and land slips focused our attention and efforts on stabilising hillsides and stream banks for the last half decade at the expense of having a big vegetable garden and…surfing.

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But that storm event also shaped our thinking about the holistic management of the farm and what plants and animals would best suit our conditions, and also work in coordination with each other for synergistic effects. The main goal has been to develop a climate resilient farm that withstands extremes of both wet and dry. This summer we’ve been tested.

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You can see in the image above how dry the hillsides are, although patches of gorse remain darker. You can just make out our white goats grazing a paddock with longer grass that we’ve just opened to them this week. But our main source of nutrition for them over the last month has been poplars on the hillsides and willows along the stream.

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The kune kune pigs even nibbled away at the tender tips of the poplars.

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They left the branches throughly stripped.

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The willow below are the first ones we put in after the flood that took cubic metres of soil with it. We rammed them into the banks with the expectation that we would actively manage them as a chop and drop fodder system for the goats during late summer and early autumn so that they would not get overgrown.

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And the results! It’s been so rewarding to watch our fat and healthy goats munching away happily in the middle of a drought.

Peace, Estwing

Kaitiaki Farm Experience

Kaitiaki Farm Experience

7th-8th September, 2019

These events are part of Whanganui Permaculture Weekend.

Choose one, two or all of the events on offer. Register: theecoschool@gmail.com

Saturday, 7th Kaitiaki Farm, Whanganui

4:30 – 5:30 Building & Maintaining Weed-Free Garden Beds. $10

6:00 – 7:30 Shared Meal. Bring a plate to share.

Sunday, 8th Kaitiaki Farm, Whanganui

9:00 – 12:00 Farm Tour: Diversity and Complimentary Systems

On 5 hectare we integrate plants and animals to maximise benefits for land protection, food production and biodiversity. The property contains many distinct micro-climates within a relatively small area, and we have established all five permaculture zones in five years. $45 (Couples $75)

12:00-1:30 The Alternative Lunch

Learn about solar cookers and rocket stoves (and the world’s best solar dehydrator) while enjoying a delicious lunch. $20

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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

 

Kaitiaki Farm Weekend 2019: 23rd-24th March

We open the farm each year in March for tours and workshops.

Kaitiaki is an exemplar permaculture farm just outside Whanganui, New Zealand. The farm is managed holistically for food production, land restoration and water management. We focus on resilient farming and regenerative agriculture.

 

Saturday 23rd March

12:30-2:00. Innovative Cookers and Dehydrators. This hands-on workshop covers the use and construction solar dehydrators and rocket stoves and demonstrates three different solar cookers.

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2:00-3:30. Building and Managing Weed-Free Garden Beds. This hands-on workshop covers all the steps for converting a lawn or paddock easily into a low-maintenance/high-productivity garden.

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4:00-5:00. Growing Great Garlic. Learn some tips for growing delicious garlic organically. Fee includes one bulb of seed garlic and five litres of compost.

$20 each or $50 for all three.

Meals and accommodation available. Please inquire for options and prices.

 

Sunday 24th March

9:00-3:00. Permaculture Farm Tour. We run a fully-integrated diverse operation on 5.1 hectares integrating plants and animals in distinct relationships based on potential synergies.

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The morning session covers what would be considered permaculture zones 0 – 3 focusing on eco-building and alternative energy, market gardening, hot composting, tractoring fowl, soil fertility, water management, wind breaks, and orchard planning.

The afternoon session covers what would be considered permaculture zones 3 – 5 focusing on water management, erosion control, slope and stream bank stabilization, browse blocks/pollarding stock fodder, and wetland restoration.

$75 Individuals, $120 Couples. Includes Lunch.

Register: theecoschool@ gmail dot com

Location: Okoia, Whanganui.

Primary Tutor: Dr. Nelson Lebo is an eco design professional with two decades experience in permaculture.

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