Report on Permablitz #16

What a day on Sunday August 10 at Sunny and Steve’s in Aongatete!!
A day full of colour, texture, laughter, learning, giving, sharing……. the list goes on. A magnificent journey in which the land and the people played the main characters. Not to mention the finale; a huge sense of achievement all round and wonderful memories for all involved.
Blitz Colour Collage
Guided by brightly coloured balloons, on a beautiful sunny morning, we were all very warmly welcomed to Steve and Sunny’s blitz. Orange is said to represent joy, optimism, enthusiasm, creativity and success; so a great balloon colour choice as this really was a true reflection of an amazing day.
A long time coming, this blitz had a few delays and unexpected events, so it was an absolute privilege to be part of finally being able to give something back to a couple who have given so much of their time and energy to many, many previous blitzes.
Pre-blitz preparation onsite to give everyone time to get to know the area and feel at home was the first tell tale sign of an exceptionally well organised and efficiently run day. This was followed by a meet and greet inside and a run down of the day’s events with a brief explanation of the main focus of our work – Guild Building.
The ‘Gosa’ (blessing) was the first event on the agenda; a traditional Korean blessing ritual asking for safety and good will for new beginnings. A perfect way to start, especially since it was the first time Sunny had ever lead one herself as growing up and even as an adult, it was always something her Mother did. Just perfect, a beautiful way to bring in the wider whanau as well as a soft reminder that the plants are not alone in their growth and establishment in their new home with Sunny and Steve.
Blitz Before Photo1
Pre blitz preperations
It was obvious from the plan for the day and the focus on building guilds that Catherine and Marie had put amazing amounts of time into this design, with lots of tidbits of interesting info for people to take away and try for themselves.
The main plan for the day was to build guilds, a hugelkulture bed for the berries as well as boarder edging and pathways. Nature has definetly got it right when it comes to balanced healthy ecosystems. Permaculture Guilds are based on the principles of these natural systems. Every element in nature serves a function and supports each other for the overall strength and sustainability of the system. Permaculture attempts to mimick this by including a carefully selected range of plants and animals, each with different functions that contribute to the overall health and stability of the system or family itself.
We learned at the intro that Catherine and Marie based their design guild distribution, on Kay Baxter’s 50/50 calculations; Where 50% of the mature food forest producing area is dedicated to nitrogen fixing plants and the other 50% to everything else that supports the main tree or plant in the guild. We were working with a 300sq metre area, planting was calculated accordingly and all ready to go on the day. Sunny had been growing and collecting plants for months and we had a great supply of lovely, healthy baby plants to serve as companions for the guilds.
We were split into groups for the various jobs and off we set, to have some fun under a  gorgeous blue sky, in great company.
Plan - Aug 2014
 Steve did a great job of collecting sawdust for the paths, compost for the plantings and the right mix of acidic elements for growing berries in. A Hugelkulture bed was planned for the centre of the paths that were weaving their way through the different guilds. The hugelkulture bed was the prefect choice for the berries as it was a way to give them the acidic environment they so love without interferrring with the rest of the plants.

The hugelkulture bed is fun idea and a lot of fun to build. Everyone had a ball collecting the material, constructing it, jumping on top of it, watering it, layering it and eventually planting it. A hub of conversation and a real structural centre. It was not only the centre of the garden itself but proved to be the centre of attention as everyone enjoyed watching it come to be. All this lovely community building gave the beginnings of the garden a real sense of belonging with family and friends.
Blitz HugelKulture
The hugelkulture bed takes shape

As you can see from the Boarder Edging photo collage below, this is where raspberries were planned and what an efficient job it was.

Boarder Edging 1
Border edging going in around the whole garden

Finally I teared myself away from all that great fun and buzz in the garden and walked straight into another lovely warm, colourful, happy zone – the kitchen! Wow,  we were in for a treat for lunch!!! We had all sorts of freshly made goodies coming and all dietary considerations prepared for. Many people have asked for the name of the restaurant owned by the chef who prepared much of the yummy food, so what better place than here to make sure we all know where to go for a great meal. Korean Chinese Restaurant , Rock’n Wok, 45 Fourth Ave., Tauranga. What a lovely family and the sparkle in the eye with a beautiful wide smile on the face of that man while cooking was a sure sign for me of someone who loves to cook.

 There was also a birthday cake for a couple of blitz attendees who were celebrating their day with us. Wait!, that’s not all, before we headed out Marie gave a little talk on how she has traditionally prepared Saurerkraut in her family for years. It was fascinating with lots of interesting and well answered questions on fermented food.
Food Collage 1
Look at all this glorious FOOD!

The group on the day was made up of a great mix of people. People from previous blitzes, locals, people who had recently moved here from overseas, people from Rotorua, people in their last days in the Bay shortly to head off to exciting new beginnings in the King Country, people planning to have their own blitz very soon, and people planning to set up their own blitz team, not to mention a few participating in or teaching horticulture courses, as well as PDCs.

Back to work we go, all anticipating whether or not we would have time to finish the planting, get those pest control and beneficial insect attracting plants in, nitrogen fixing friends as well as a few that help break up the soil.. but so much had happened so far, would we make it?
Off we headed, to put down the path, innoculate the soil, supplement the soil with the right mix of support food and compost full of lovely wriggly worms, plant each guild with the appropriate companion plants and top it all off with a yummy layer of mulch to keep all the plants cosy, warm and hydrated.
What a Food Forest; Blueberries, Cranberries, a deciduous guild, a mediterranean guild a citrus guild to name a few. Comfrey, Salvia, Thyme, Tangy, Sage, Nasturtium, Chives, Clover, Dill, Mint, Fennel, Bulbs, Wild Flowers…Sunny had done a great job of gathering the family together.
Guild-Planting Collage No Jenni

We hope this has given you an idea of just how colourful a day we had!! The colour that shone through the most, the brightest, and strongest colour of the day was that of people power. Laughter, team work, fun and a real sense of family.

What better way to start of on new beginnings!!! Thank you Sunny and Steve for sharing this with us and thank you to everyone who helped out on the day, what a great bunch of people. None of it would have happened, if it weren’t for Catherine and Marie, thank you immensely for such dedicated, well thought out, planning and design work.
What a great team !!
THANKS team!