Tag Archives: resilient farming

The Resilient Farm Tour

Extremes of climate put pressure on farmers and food production worldwide that is only expected to increase.

On Kaitiaki Farm we’ve spent the last six years developing strategies to ‘climate proof’ our farm against the extremes of both drought and flood. These include: protecting slopes; planting the riparian corridor; wetland restoration; soil improvement; multiple approaches to water management; diverse income streams; and more.

Because of a diversity of land forms, slope aspects and micro-climates Kaitiaki Farm is an ideal place to learn many different and holistic approaches to land management. It is a walk-through textbook in permaculture.

23rd April, 1-5pm followed by an optional meal. $60, + meal $25

Registration essential: theecoschool@gmail.com

Kaitiaki Farm is a  5.1 hectare (13 acre) property located 4 km outside Whanganui, New Zealand. We operate as a mixed-use operation leveraging niche markets for annual crops, perennial crops, nursery trees and animals. 

Our primary interests lie in holistic land management, regenerative agriculture, market gardening, appropriate technology, renewable energy and human-scale solutions, as well as home building and renovation. 

2021 Workshop schedule

17th January: Reading the Landscape

Join us for a relaxed walk through the farm ‘reading’ what the land is telling us about soil, water, life and past events. How can this knowledge help us make the most of land restoration efforts?

3-4:30 pm. Bring boots and appropriate clothing. $20

14th February: Goats 101

Goat curious? This hands-on workshop explains what we have learned about keeping goats and the land healthy and productive. Includes diet, trimming hooves, worm management and milking.

2:30-4:30 pm. Includes milking and clipping hooves. $30

21st March: The Affordable Eco Home

This workshop covers key aspects of designing and building a new home in an urban or rural location including: orientation; energy performance; ventilation; windows & doors; insulation; minimising construction waste; designing for expansion; self-build options; waste water and composting toilets.

1:30-4:30 pm. Includes afternoon tea. $50

11th April: Building Garden Beds & Hot Composting

Less effort for a better result: this hands-on workshop explains how to build and manage low-maintenance weed-free vegetable beds, as well as a simple method for hot composting.

3-4:30 PM. Come prepared to get dirty. $20

23rd April: The Resilient Farm Tour

Extremes of climate put pressure on farmers worldwide. This tour explains some steps we’ve taken to ‘climate proof’ our farm over the last seven years and the amazing results.

1:30-5 pm. Followed by an optional meal. $60, + meal $25

16th May: Growing Great Garlic

We have been growing amazing organic garlic for two decades. This workshop explains how to ensure a great crop.

3-4:30 pm. With a free bulb of seed garlic and small bag of compost. $25

13th June: DIY Double Glazing Options

What are the pros and cons of each approach to double glazing and which is best for you? This workshop is a must for anyone considering upgrading their windows and doors.

3-4:30 pm. $20

Minimum numbers required for workshops to run.

Registration and non-refundable deposit essential.

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

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.