All posts by marcoandteresa

Permablitz #25!

Paeroa Rural Food Forest Permablitz

Saturday 18th June 2016, 9am – 4pm
Location: Paeroa, register to find out where

We are developing a three year old orchard into the next phase of a Food Forest. We are also preparing the orchard for chickens to roam and under planting some of the fruit trees with beneficial plants at a large rural property just south of Paeroa.

The site is a north facing, easily accessible, gently sloping orchard.

We’ll be preparing some areas of lawn between the fruit trees with sheet mulching. These areas will be planted with more fruiting plants, some nitrogen fixers and other companion and beneficial plants. Existing fruit trees will be mulched, composted and bedded in for winter.

We will be fixing chicken mesh to the perimeter fence to make the orchard secure for chickens to free range. Housing for the chickens will also be established.

Likely workshops will be; on the care of chickens eg how to clip their wings, feeding chickens from the land, sheet mulching for food forest understorey planting, pruning fruit trees, chook housing from recycled materials, healing herbs and native plants/rongoa.

Anyone is welcome to teach a workshop on a sustainable living concept so if you have any special skills that will contribute to the learning of the participants please mention this at registration.

Please come and help. The hosts will provide a good healthy lunch and snacks. Hope to see you there!

What to bring:
-Sturdy Footwear
-Gardening tools (labelled with your name) – hammer, grass clippers, spades, shovels,wheelbarrows, hand tools
-Water bottle
-Hat and sun protection and wet weather gear

Plants/seeds needed: Tagasaste, Peppermint geranium, Chamomile, Salvia, Siberian pea shrub, Phaelacia, Yarrow, Lavender, Wormwood.

Donations to the sheet mulching pile appreciated: Horse or cow manure, untreated sawdust, seaweed, straw…

To register, fill out the form below. Your details will be emailed to the hosts who will contact you with further details on how to get there. Thank you!


Take a look at the Katikati Motel Permablitz – 3.5 years later

This is the first in a series of reports on previous Permablitzes in the Bay of Plenty.
The Permaculture Design Guild, who make up a proportion of the designers involved in the Permablitz programme, feel it is important to return to see how the owners are enjoying their gardens and to find out what has worked and what hasn’t worked .
Our first visit was to Katikati Motel which was Permablitz # 3 & 4 carried out in spring 2012.
The area we blitzed was originally a swimming pool, which had been backfilled with subsoil. We designed a series of raised wicking beds to enable addition of good growing medium and to keep maintenance to a minimum for a busy couple, Kate and Kent Pfennig, with a young
family and a motel to run.
We recently visited Kate and Kent at Katikati Motel to see how their garden is going. This was a unique situation as Kate and Kent wanted this area to be developed for guests at the Motel to also be able to use the fruit and vegetables from the garden.
This was the first Blitz where we built Wicking beds and these have proved very successful for this busy couple. Kate says “I would do the wicking beds again, that was a definite good thing. They only need filling two to three times a year; at the end of spring, around January, and if very dry, again a month later. They have been great time and water savers when it comes to irrigating the vegetables.
kk motel
The beds are replenished with fresh compost at the end of each growing season. “The Pfennigs wanted to incorporate chickens into the area so that they could also provide guests with fresh eggs. The  rotational chicken tractor system hasn’t been continued with mainly because it was in the public eye and the area, especially after rain, wasn’t visually appealing for the guests.
However the chickens are now housed elsewhere and when there were nine laying they not only provided ample eggs for the guests but also were fed food waste from the units thus closing the recycle loop. There have been crops of potatoes, corn, beans, herbs, and fruit. Raspberries, Grapes, Citrus, and Jerusalem Artichokes are currently ripe. The Pfennigs have since planted other fruit throughout the motel site. There are Olives as shade trees, more Raspberries against a hot wall,Citrus and Green Tea Camellias.
Since completion there have been visits to this garden by the Tauranga Ooooby Group, a Tauranga Garden Club and Katikati BA5. It has generated a lot of interest and provided a good example of Permaculture in action.
By Trish Waugh, Permablitz guild designer

Report on Permablitz # 24

An energetic group of 22 people came together on Saturday 10th October to blitz a suburban backyard in Brookfield, Tauranga.

Host Sharon created the design for her PDC with Plenty Permaculture and this was implementation day!


The main task of the day was to create a series of small-scale infiltration swales on contour with vegetable beds in between. This will take advantage of the gentle slope of the property to harvest rainwater runoff.


The swales were lined with tree branches, mulch and sawdust, which will act like a sponge during heavy rain, then will slowly release moisture to the vegetable beds. The swales also function as pathways between the beds.

The vegetable beds were prepared by double-digging and adding amendments such as inoculated biochar, vermicast, Nature’s Garden and compost.

The vegetable growing area will be divided into two parts: a perennial vegetable polyculture, which will be self-sustaining once established; and annual vegetable beds which will be managed using biointensive methods.


Three interactive workshops were run to give everyone some fun, hands-on learning opportunities. Leo did a compost making workshop which resulted in a magnificent compost heap; Brad demonstrated double-digging and had his group powering through the vegetable beds; and Christine led a willow weaving workshop which resulted in a cute and rustic raised bed border (to be finished by host Sharon later).



The lunch of chickpea and pumpkin tagine, arabesque lentils, salads, roasted chicken, lemon and coconut balls, chocolate chip slice and fruit cake was lovingly assembled by our generous hosts.


As we were munching dessert, Gisella gave us a fabulous introduction to biodynamic gardening. We learned that biodynamic gardening always starts with applying a preparation called 500. It’s an involved process to make it, using cow horns packed with cow manure and buried in the ground. However you can purchase it through the NZ Biodynamic Association at a very low cost per acre. A few of the group decided to try it, so we put in our order with Gisella and will meet up in a couple of weeks when the moon is in the right phase to have a strong arm stirring party (500 needs to be stirred for an hour to activate it).

Facilitators Trish and Leo kept things running smoothly and it was a fun and productive day with amazing results!




Report on Permablitz # 23 – Turangi town house

Upwards of 25 people came to Turangi last sunday on what was a hot dry, and windy spring day. The site they came to work on was the front lawn of a typical hydro-house. This was one of many houses in the town moved on site for the Tongariro Power scheme in the 1960’s-70’s.


The concept design for the site included the front lawn as a perennial food forest system – a great sustainable solution for a busy professional couple with little spare time. However, Turangi is renowned for poor and extremely free draining pumice soil and a cold climate. It snow occasionally in winter as the town is 340m above sea level.  However this north facing sloped front lawn is a ideal suntrap, the house gives it excellent shelter from the cold southerly winds.


To alleviate water loss in the highly free draining soil, teams helped establish a combined Hugelkultur swale system. Stormwater from roof runoff was tapped into and piped to swales dug on contour above new berms. The berms were made from turf dug out of the swales and from trenches dug for wood which was buried under them. This waste wood was sourced locally from the fisherman’s track by the Tongariro river. There wayward gardeners had dumped pruning’s so these were put to good use.


As the buried wood eventually rots, it will act like a sponge to absorb winter rains to sustain the fruit trees and food forest plants through the summer drought. Much of the food forest is planted with deciduous fruit to ensure the hosue isn’t shaded and particular care was taken in the design to ensure morning sun would still enter the main living space window.


All involved had a great day with many young people new to permablitz having attended the day. The was a large international contingent of volunteers from Awhi farm and also staff from the Hillary Outdoor education center. It is hoped this event and local interest in the site will lead to further development of edible gardens at a Turangi Marae.

We are hoping to hold a massive multi-day permablitz someday to give back to the Turangi community, many of whom are the descendants of the visionary people that gifted NZ it’s first National Park. (Tongariro NP) Watch this space!


Permablitz #23!

Turangi town home Food Forest Permablitz

Sunday 4th October 2015, 9:30am – 4pm
Location: Turangi town home, register to find out where

We’re planting a food forest at a typical home in Turangi.

The site is a north facing,free-draining, front sloped garden, so a warm and dry spot well suited to great growing.

Before the fruit trees go in, we’ll be forming rainwater infiltration swales for drought tolerance and for cycling nutrients into the system. Storm-water runoff from the house and garage will fill a new goldfish pond in front of the house. Once full nutrients from the pond will flow into the swales too.

We’re planting a large range of stone-fruit like cherries, prunes and apricots along with citrus trees fruiting shrubs such as currants and gooseberries. They’ll love the hard frosts and warm dry summers. These will become the structure of the multi-layered food food for this young turangi family and kids passing by on their way to and from school.

Please come and help, likely workshops will discuss Food forest and swale design, composting, tree planting and mulch use. Anyone is welcome to teach a workshop on a sustainable living concept on the day!

There will be a good healthy lunch provided. Hosts will help organise carpooling for anyone willing to come down here. Turangi has great hotpools, walks, and plenty to see and do for a weekend away! (not to mention great permies down here including the sensational Awhi Farm (google them!)

Suitable plant donations for our food forest appreciated.

We hope to see you here!
Hugo & Caro

What to bring:
-Sturdy Footwear
-Own gardening tools (labelled with your name) – spades, shovels, wheelbarrows, hand tools
-Water bottle
-Hat and sun protection

-Extra clothing (Turangi climate is about a month behind the Tauranga!)

To register, fill out the form below you details will be emailed to the hosts who will contact you with further details on how to get there. Thank-you! Hugo & Caro

Permablitz #24!

Tauranga Suburban Garden Permablitz – REGISTRATIONS FULL

Saturday 10th October 2015, 9am – 4pm
Location: Tauranga, register to find out where

We’re creating vegetable beds on contour and under-planting fruit trees at a typical suburban home in Tauranga.

The site is a north facing, gently sloped garden.

We’ll be forming a series of small rainwater infiltration swales which will be filled with mulch and used as pathways between raised vegetable beds. Some of the vegetable beds will be dedicated to growing perennial vegetables, while the rest will be used for biointensive annual vegetable growing.

A few existing trees will need to be moved, and underplanted with companion plants. Some of the existing lawn area will be sheet mulched.

Likely workshops will be on the correct posture for digging, double digging, making multi-purpose portable compost bins, compost making, using biodynamic preparations, possibly making tepees and garden edging with woven willow if we can find enough suitable material. Anyone is welcome to teach a workshop on a sustainable living concept on the day!

Please come and help. The hosts will provide a good healthy lunch and snacks.

Limited to 20 people, so be in quick!

Hope to see you there!

What to bring: -sturdy footwear, gloves, gardening tools (labelled with your name), spades, shovels, wheelbarrows, hand tools,water bottle, hat and sun protection.

Plants/seeds needed: Dwarf comfrey, tagasaste, peppermint geranium, chamomile, hyssop, honeywort, greater celandine, welsh bunching onions, salvia, chamomile, siberian pea shrub, chives, alfalfa, bulbs, boysenberry, loganberry.

Donations to the compost pile appreciated: Seaweed, grass clippings, cow manure, straw…etc

To register, fill out the form below. Your details will be emailed to the hosts who will contact you with further details on how to get there. Thank you!


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.



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.


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.


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.


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

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.

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.


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.

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.

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

Update from former PermablitzBOP Designer Kat Gawlik

Kat and Seiorse have made it to Fiji!

Kat Gawlik was such a contribution to PermablitzBOP while she was here last year.  We miss her!!  She and her partner Seiorse sailed off on their boat last month and have successfully reached Fiji!  Read the account below.


We motored through the Navula reef passage into Fiji first thing yesterday morning, and took a whole day sailing with light headwinds up to where we are anchored now, at Lautoka Port. Our friends from Tauranga on their boat Pandora are anchored next to us, so we joined them for dinner last night – a real dinner with tropical vegetables all chopped, and a small portion of the 1.2m Mahimahi  that we caught about 2 days out from Fiji. Looking forward to watching the video of catching that again, it was the biggest fish we had ever caught and seeing it madly flapping in the cockpit was intense! We both felt a bit guilty killing it, but soon semi justified it thinking of how many restaurant fish meals we don’t need to order now.

The people here are so friendly and accommodating, all the official checkin formalities were fairly casual, and we are looking forward to having a look in town and going to the market.

Coming through the passage in the distance we could see perfect huge barrelling waves breaking across the reef of the infamous Cloudbreak surf break and a few floating apartments (catamarans) anchored nearby, the stuff of big budget surf movies. Doubt we will hit that up first. The surf spot ‘swimming pool’s’ sounds more like our thing…

The temperature here is perfect. We have all hatches open with lots of fresh air, and it isn’t too hot. Looking forward to our first swim in a nice clean bay somewhere. The chart shows we are anchored next to a sewer outfall and the water isn’t that inviting turquoise colour here. No doubt we will find a place soon.

We are planning on going to the Vuda marina today for Seiorse’s birthday to meet up with our other Tauranga friend on Messalina for some Fiji Bitters and live music. We wanted to put the boat in the marina to give it a good wash and do washing etc but it is full.

Hoping to get sim cards, cruising permit and a supply of fresh market fruits and vegetables on Monday before starting to explore the outer islands.

It’s good to be here after 10 days at sea, feeling blessed to have had no major problems with the boat, or any bad weather to deal with!!

Love Kat and Seiorse

Follow up on previous blitz!


G3 garden group from Mount Maunganui visited the food forest of Christine Paris in Whakmarama.  This was one of our earlier blitzes, designed by Hugo Verhagen.  It is neat to see some photos and a follow up of how the swales are working to feed Christine’s fruit trees and how everything is growing.

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This is a photo of the blitz day,  visit to see G3’s  impressions of this permaculture property when the visited recently.



Report on Permablitz at Envirohub

Envirohub’s Public Food Forest Permablitz Report
By Kat Gawlik, Lead Designer
15 March 2015

Although we had a lot of competing events happening on the same day because of Sustainable Backyards month, and the looming threat of Tropical Cyclone Pam, the mini-blitz at the Envirohub food forest was an intimate and successful morning that finished with a shared lunch including a salad of greens and herbs from the Envirohub gardens.


This was to be the first Permablitz to happen in a public space, and we had an intimate crew of around 10 people; including a few regular ‘permablitzers’ as well as some new to the Bay of Plenty and for whom it was their first Permablitz.

After moving the seedlings and supplies up to the food forest slope, we started the morning with an introductions circle at 9am, a few clouds in the sky but no sign of the wind and rain that were forecast for later that evening.

The Rampant Immigrant

Before we tackled the rampant Kikuyu grass smothering the recently planted citrus trees, we heard from Catherine Dunton-Mcleod about the history of Kikuyu arriving in NZ with the early settlers on ships that on the long journey had stopped in South Africa where the South African grass made a ‘splendid’ substitute for the grasses and plants that had already perished on board. Little did they know that in the future the rampant and hardy grass would become a bane to many gardeners. We looked at possible methods to control Kikuyu grass including using black plastic to ‘cook’ the grass in initial site preparations, using a slurry of hydrated lime to immediately alkalise the soil (Kikuyu likes more acidic soil), using a physical barrier of sheeting iron dug into the ground, digging a deep trench, and shading it out with rambling plants like choko (chayote), orangeberry or nasturtium.

But we can’t be too hard on poor old Kikuyu, it was doing a great job in stabilising the steep bank and being the protective ground covering for the soil ecosystem beneath. So, once we removed the kikuyu grass from around the shallow rooted citrus trees we needed to replace that competitive yet protective soil covering with a diversity of beneficial ground covers, mineral accumulators, nitrogen fixers, pollinator attractants and pest repellents which would make up a fruit tree guild.


The Citrus Tree Guild

During a well deserved morning tea of juicy nashies and kiwifruit water we heard about what a fruit tree guild is and talked about the role each plant would play in the citrus tree guild. Comfrey, rosemary, sage, strawberries, tagasaste, wisteria, echinacea, asparagus, lavender, thyme, rose geranium, globe artichoke, horseradish, mint and oregano were strategically planted around the now cleared citrus trees according to height, sun angle, and root depth, while the live piano music from the nearby Historic Village market permeated throughout the blitz site.



With their claustrophobic collar of kikuyu removed, the citrus trees looked much happier with their new plant companions- a quick mulch of compost and grass clippings was laid and we were out of time!  We knew the new plants would get a good watering-in later that night with the predicted heavy rain the cyclone would bring. There is going to be a bit of on going maintenance to keep the invasive kikuyu away while the guild plants get established – get in touch with Noel Peterson from Envirohub if you would like to assist!

We finished the day with a yummy shared lunch while hearing Noel’s take on planting by the moon, and we got to take home a lucky dip of either dehydrated apples or cover crop seed of lupin, oats and mustard.


Thanks everyone who came! It was a productive and fun morning!



Noel Peterson, Envirohub, Historic Village

Kat Gawlik, Lead Permaculture Designer, Permablitz Bay of Plenty

Catherine Dunton-Mcleod, Design Guild Leader, Plenty Permaculture