Permablitz #15 at Beccy’s place, Paeroa
Saturday the 12th was wild, wet and windy after a week of similar weather. The blitz was scheduled for Sunday 13th and although the weather forecast that things could clear mid morning, it was hard to imagine as my daughter Holly and I braved the weathers to saw down large bamboo in readiness for the next day’s ventures.
We had a great whanau crew of 5 tucked in our tiny home chopping salads, making soups, baking cakes,creating pies and praying like crazy that the blitz wouldn’t be cancelled… or we’d have had a lot to eat !!!
At 10.00 p.m. someone noticed the rain had stopped and we stepped outside to a quiet, clear night sky. The full moon was surrounded by the most amazing coloured moonbow I had ever seen and we knew the storms were over and all would be well.
By Sunday 9.30 the 29 permablitzers began to gather around the outside fire, where we shared a cuppa, introductions and the plan for the day. I talked a little about the history of arriving on the land 17 years ago with my two young girls, Holly and Kyah, now young women and part of the blitz team. Also of Annies involvement in the land over the years and now into the future with plans to build a cabin here.
Trish Waugh shared our permaculture plans for the land and for the day in creating a ‘food forest’, pruning existing fruit trees, and re-creating the vege gardens and compost heaps. She talked about the special nature of the land being south facing and why we were planting what we were and where.
The first job was a good warm up for our wintered bodies, getting two large piles of rocks gathered in the native bush at the height of the section down to a recently terraced gully below the house where part of the food forest was being created. The plan was to use the available resource of rocks to create small dry stone walls around the proposed fruit tree sites. These will act as a collector of rain and nutrients and stop the run off down the banks. Trish took us through the process of creating the rock walls and then it didn’t take long for the group to create 4 reasonable sized retaining walls, to hold citrus, blueberries and an apple tree and many supporting herbs, fruit and veges.
As that activity was completed we divided into 3 groups, two to learn about and practice pruning some of the older trees (fig, apples and peaches) with either Trish or Catherine Dunton-Mcleod and the third to create a new compost frame out of warratahs and wire mesh with Cat Firth and Annie. A new compost heap was created inside it layering carbon and nitrogen materials that had been previously gathered.
The weather couldn’t have been better as we gathered for a scrumdiddilyumptious lunch (thanks to the amazing talents of our kitchen whizzes, Kyah, Katie and others).
Over a cuppa and dark Chocolate Beetroot cake Catherine D.M. shared some of her knowledge around ‘Food Forests’ enhanced by her recent learnings from Kay Baxters workshop. Others who had been part of Kays workshop added in what they had learned to the mix; one thing that stood out for me was the simplicity of thinking that 50% of a food forest is food producing trees and plants and another 50% need to be plants that support those food producing trees. We also shared knowledge about how to plant fruit trees successfully before going off to plant 22 of them across two areas of the section.
Many people commented at the end of the day that they had learnt a lot about planting fruit trees well, especially bare rooted ones eg: facing the tap root to the south. Grass was turfed and cleared around each tree and replaced with good quantities of compost and mulch. Amongst this rich mix was lovingly planted many roots of comfrey, daffodil bulbs, strawberries and a huge variety of herbs donated by the participants. More mini rock walls were created around each tree to hold the nutrients and the bank and to create a barrier to grass growth. At the same time those that were keen continued work on re-creating garden beds.
Rose Tuffery, who couldn’t make it on the day, had dedicated a day earlier in the week to engineering a circular garden with split level beds and bamboo wall that would create a frame to later be adobed over. Originally we used old teepee poles for this purpose and even though we had cut more bamboo from a local source on the day we fell short of material so this is still a work in progress. Other beds were re-shaped to compliment the shape of the new circular garden and pathways levelled.
We called an end to the day around 4.00 p.m. and I felt absolutely amazed and grateful at the huge amount of work that had been done in such a short amount of time and the wonderful sense of community that had developed throughout the day. We finished with a closing circle and acknowledgement from everybody of the various things they had experienced or enjoyed about the day.
Huge thanks to everyone for their contribution of time, energy and plants and a special thanks to the planning, design and facilitation team of Trish Waugh, Cat Firth, Rose Tuffery and Catherine Dunton-Mcleod. I am deeply moved and grateful for your generosity of spirit.
Ngaa mihi nui Beccy