Report on Permablitz # 20 – The Rock Community Gardens

On July the 12th The Rock hosted the 20th Bay of Plenty Permablitz – and what a day it was! The sun was shining, the wind was light, and smiles radiated from end to end of The Rock’s busy pathways.

The day started off frosty, with frozen hoses and ice coating every minute surface of the vegetables, creating a crispy white wonderland (see photos!).

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The buzz grew as people started arriving, greeting one another, pouring hot teas, labelling tools and laying down gifted plants.

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After an introduction by Leo, Dave and Lily, Dave went over the Permaculture Design for the Food Forest to set the days agenda. Then after a big warm up stretch session we all got cracking! What a sight to see – all the weeks of preparation come to life in the hands of community, as the load was lifted up and shared between everyone.

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Around 40-50 participants planted over 30 trees (20 of these being fruit trees) and a guild of support species, including comfrey, lupin, lavender, rosemary, dill, oregano, coriander, berry shrubs, and garlic around the edges to help keep out unwanted visitors.

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Because the parent material at The Rock is a mercilessly nutrient-void sand, trees and shrubs were planted first in pre-prepared holes (refilled a month earlier with a mix of compost, manure and parent material), before cardboard and newspaper were laid around them to start the sheet mulch. A one meter radius around each tree was given special attention, building up the soil/compost layer a bit more to plant the guild species in.

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Puffing and panting in the sunshine, countless wheelbarrow trips transported a large quantity of compost and mulch between 50-100m to the Food Forest site to form the sheet mulch layers. This sheet mulch consisted of (from the ground up):
1. Clay slurry
2. Newspaper a metre around the trees, cardboard everywhere else (which ran out big time – oops! If you’re planning to sheetmulch an area, get as much cardboard you think is necessary then quadruple it!)
3. Manure
4. Compost
5. Compost Tea, Cow Pat Pit, RokSolid
6. Mulch

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Much of this enormous task was completed on the day, with one whole section completely finished (yay!) but quite a few areas remained uncovered by both compost and mulch, and were completed by Rock members in the week following.

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Between this area of sheet mulch, the empty space for a path has since been filled with sawdust to guide visitors around the edible permaculture forest. One seat got fully set up on the day, and the second seat has since been completed.

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Art also featured throughout the day, with Millie Newitt facilitating all the fruit tree signs being painted, in wild and wonderful colours and styles – Thanks Millie!

Some people took the time to prepare workshops for the Blitz that took place throughout the day and were a real hit (sometimes to the detriment of the main food forest task!!). Taking the time to prepare something and teach others is a great way to say thanks for coming and participating. Thanks to the following people for holding workshops:
– Dave – Dealing with kikuyu
– Chris – Dealing with Papamoa sandy soils
– Lily – Sauerkraut making
– Catherine – Fruit Tree Guilds
– Leo – Wormfarming

The feast that took place at lunch time was spoken of for days afterwards. Rows of salads, soups, breads (Thanks Flaveur breads!), cakes and more delectable home kitchen contributions were devoured in the sun, as we all  gathered round on beanbags, blankets, chairs and picnic tables to a well deserved break with some smooth beats adding to the mood.

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The blitz was also blessed to have one Green Wizard floating about, casting spells of laughter and wisdom to many throughout the day. Thankyou Green Wizard.

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A huge THANKYOU TO EVERYONE who came down to The Rock from near, far, and in the cold of morn to create something incredible that day – a productive, regenerative, bio-diverse public space – that will be a positive fixture in the community for years to come. Together we all rocked it! You’re all welcome anytime and we welcome anyone who wants to check out the Food Forest and learn more about Fruit Tree Guilds.

For more info on The Rock or to get involved, contact us at therockpapamoa@gmail.com.

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