Report on Permablitz #32

Healing landscapes and permaculture design continues around the Bay of Plenty! This time, at a riparian property in Welcome Bay. 

18 September 2021 by Byron Birss

Our hosts Andrea and Hone have lived here in the Bay of Plenty for nearly 20 years, have attended numerous PermaBlitz events, and run a small business from their property: Kiwi Homesteaders.  Kiwi Homesteaders is an arts & crafts business, where they teach workshops and share with people about sustainable/low-impact lifestyle ideas; kombucha, sauerkraut, rongoa-maori, beeswax wraps, flax weaving, crochet, etc. 

Byron & Lara from Backyard Paradise Permaculture had been facilitating the design process with Andrea & Hone for a number of months leading up to this mid-September event. 

They welcomed a large group of 20+ people to their property, which currently sits on the border between urban & rural communities. The land straddles a natural stream and has many established fruit trees already. This blitz had two main activities; native riparian restoration planting/traditional rongoa-maori medicine, along with an afternoon activity about permaculture & living design process. 

Native riparian planting contributes towards rebuilding ecosystem services for the local watershed; erosion control, water filtration, wildlife habitat corridor and evaporative cooling for these essential riparian ecosystems. All good things for the Western-Bay ecology. Since Hone had accumulated a few hundred native tree seedlings through his work, combined with his passion for sharing traditional rongoa-maori knowledge via workshops and their position in the watershed, this seemed a perfect fit for the Blitz. 

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The morning session was run by Hone, who led an informative discussion about various native plants and their traditional/medicinal functions. How to identify which plants could be used for heart and blood remedies, etc. Then we all got stuck-in and started planting! 

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The morning and early-afternoon quickly escaped us, but finally all of the trees had found their homes along the flowing stream!

A beautiful and delicious lunch was created by Andrea and her helpers and this was a wonderful time of community and sharing over good food!

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The afternoon activity was a slower-paced discussion about permaculture design process, and how design principles had been applied at Andrea & Hone’s property over the last number of months. This was intended to share valuable design patterns and strategies to the group of volunteers – a design framework for the volunteers to take home and start reading their landscape from a permaculture perspective. 

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Byron & Lara led this afternoon activity, sharing foundations of the design process that had been undertaken with Andrea & Hone. Discussions about the Scale of Permanence helped to identify key areas across their landscape that were needing attention; particularly access & flows. While Andrea & Hone had lived at their property for nearly two decades, some areas around the house had become severely overgrown and restricted access to key areas. Part of this early-stage design process was identifying major accessways, clearing paths and small-vehicle access to assist moving around & harvesting fruit along the steep slopes of their amphitheatre-shaped landscape. 

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At the end of the day, we spent time doing Living Design Process to identify the best areas for minor access paths & stairs near their house-gardens. The next day, more of their friends came out to help plant the garden beds we had created the shapes of, determined by contours and access paths. 

Hone and Andrea are incredibly grateful for the hard mahi everyone put in on the day and organising the event. It was so great to connect with the community and receive all the positive feedback at the end of the day. Thanks to everyone who helped make the day such a great one!