Blogs

Food Forest Hui – September 26-28

Ten of the best permaculture designers from around the country, are converging on Auckland from September 26th-28th to offer New Zealand’s first three day Food Forest Hui and Training.

If you hold a permaculture design certificate (or have extensive experience in this area) and are interested in learning more about how to design and implement food forest systems, and to help create short courses to share with others, then don’t miss this event.

Register your interest now and we’ll be in touch.

Why forests of food

The logic of moving from the practice of turning soil to grow annual crops is becoming compelling in the face of more extreme weather events. While moving slowly around the country over the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of engaging in dialogue on this subject with over 200 people at public meetings and in small groups. It’s clear that there is a tremendous increase in the number of people wanting to know more about how to put these food forest ideas into practice.

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Public food forest talks and new discoveries

Three well attended talks to appreciative audiences in Taranaki and Manawatu, resulted in a lead on a hidden 20 year old food forest in the Central Plateau.

Public talks

It was a short lead time, but this didn’t seem to matter, in these days of being able to share information rapidly through the networks. Kama Burwell, a very competent and active permaculturalist working at the Hive Taranaki Environment Centre, spread the word and drew in 40+ people on a chilly Monday night, aided by an interview on Access Radio Taranaki that morning.

One of the highlights for me was meeting Ché Rogers and seeing the tagged Facebook photos of his forest garden, taken with his daughter in the pictures for a sense of scale. He let me download them andadd some graphic tags of my own.

Food Forest Garden with names

The following night 30 people came out in Marton, from the efforts of Lorraine Bartlett who invited us to meet in the Marton Arts Centre. It was a particularly warm and generous welcome, and the talk was followed by an abundant pot luck meal, which kept the conversations going for some time until we had to leave to head over to Fielding.

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Food Forest Road Trip with family

School holidays and an invitation to visit Dean Williamson in Fielding to explore his idea for 10 acre food forests up and down the country, was enough to start the road trip planning.

I let a few people know we were heading South, and would love to visit some existing food forests and were happy to talk with people along the way, and an agenda quickly emerged.

We’re leaving Waiheke today (Jul 13th) and will be home on the 24th.

Maybe we’ll meet up at one of these events

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Food Forest Webinar – Nr.1 – Introduction

From a simple impulse to connect a few people in a conversation, and share some stories of progress in the food forest space in Aotearoa (New Zealand), this webinar idea gained traction rather faster than I expected.

The inaugural Food Forest webinar – from Aotearoa

Webinar 1 speakersWhen I made a post on Facebook page to say there were 35 people signed up for the Webinar, it was at about 7 days to go. To date, there have been 75 people, from all up and down the country who have signed up. Not bad for two weeks lead time.

Even John Valenzuela registered to attend. John is the horticulturist, consultant and educator from Marin County California, best known for his work with rare fruit, home gardening, trees, traditional agriculture, plant propagation, and ethnobotany – I’m hoping we can get him back to present one day. By the time it arrived I had sent notifications to 70 people.

On the day, 43 attendees logged in and saw and heard the presentations from Finn MacKesy, Jon Foote and myself (or parts of them). There were some technical issues, for example some people couldn’t get in if they arrived late. I found out that I had overlooked the limit of attendees for the subscription level I had paid for (more on that later). My apologies. But overall it went quite well - as you'll see from the recording.

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Beyond agriculture – the myths and the alternatives

Agriculture was the great leap forward for humanity, or so we’ve been told. but is it true? Toby Hemenway, in this compelling talk Redesigning Civilisation – with Permaculture, lays out a different picture and dispels the myths of agriculture as the great liberator from a life we are told was brutish and short.

At this point I feel compelled to assure you, this is not a casual criticism of agriculture or farmers. I have been one and I hold a deep respect for that culture, so if you are reading this article and have a background in rural activities, thank you for reading this far, and I welcome you to take this journey of discovery with me.

The essence of agriculture, which the origin of the word points to, is the cutting of trees to make way for open fields – to then grow large areas of a small number crops, or grass for animals. Given this suggestion the term sustainable agriculture, must surely be an oxymoron, as there are few if any areas of the earth where agriculture has been practiced for long periods of time, which do not show signs of degradation and loss of soil, water and human health. The origins of this open field approach can be traced back to thefertile crescent‘ in the Middle East - where years of grain agriculture has turned the land to desert and the soil to salt-laden sand.

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The Guyton’s Food Forest (Riverton – NZ)

I picked up the phone last Sunday evening and had a most invigorating conversation with Robyn Guyton. After introducing myself, I asked her a couple of questions about the project she and Robert have been working on for over 15 years.

While humble and soft spoken, she was so forthcoming about the different aspects of their work, that I am sure I missed a few things, as I scribbled furiously, so it's just as well there have been a few articles about them that I can refer you to:

Letters from New Zealand - on the Permaculture Research Institute website

Food forest puts Riverton couple on the map - Southland Times

Food Forest NZ - on Ooooby And this wonderful recent video features Robert walking through and explaining different aspects of the forest.

But there was so much more I wanted to know. I am of the opinion that growing food using the diverse range of perennial plants we have available to us offers solutions to many of today's challenges.

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kanehogan's picture

How to start a TT?

Hi. Im in Westport south island.

whats the best way to start/lobby for a Transition town?

 

kane

Why all the fuss about food [forests]

Why are people getting excited about food forests?

Our presently dominant method of growing food through industrial agriculture is destructive to soil, water, air and people¹. Growing food using large amounts of fossil fuel energy and a system of annual cropping on turned soil, is not resilient in the face of increasing extremes of drought and flood.

I could write screeds of information to back this up, and reduce you to tears of despair and frustration to prove the point, but thankfully I don't have to. More and more people are trusting their deeply felt intuition, without the need for masses of data, that our current model is simply not sustainable (not able to be sustained).

The good news though, is that if we can transition quickly (10-20 years), to more of a forest-like food production model based on perennial plants, we can re-build a resilient food supply. In addition, as we regenerate the soil and clean up the water supply, we will be capturing large volumes of carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the humus².

Over time, this could have a significant positive impact on the climate - given that our industrial food system is currently contributing approximately 25% of the annual carbon - more than transport.

Then there are the social benefits that localised food supplies can bring. As people become involved, in the production and harvesting and processing of local food, the social fabric gets stronger and people become healthier.

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VIDEO: The Power of Just Doing Stuff

Our Green Roadie - documentary about 50 New Zealanders

Here's a great film, about 50 New Zealanders doing great things to build a better world. The story behind the film is a simple but beautiful one, and an inspiration in itself.

Check out the Trailer www.vimeo.com/55198564 Film Trailer,

and read more on www.facebook.com/OurGreenRoadie DVD SHOP

Our Green Roadie is a documentary about 50 New Zealanders sharing their stories about living and working in eco-conscious and economically viable ways. We filmed everyday people from Northland to Southland; individual households to multi-million dollar businesses who have made the choices to be on a ‘greener’ journey. They’re all different, full of heart, encouraging and inspirational.

Our Motivation for wanting to do nationwide screenings:

1/ We believe this is a film every New Zealander should have the opportunity to see. It inspires and encourages change in a way that everyday people appreciate. We think ‘green’ people are good at talking to each other but not really connecting with everyday people.

We want to help change that and dispel myths and engage the public.

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