The permaculture garden
When Lance Palmer
built a prototype hemp building, he gifted it to Matt and Melissa for their permaculture garden and they turned it into the most well insulated hen house in NZ, complete with a green roof. The garden also has a topbar beehive, sheep, turkeys, and cows running around the pasture.
“Self-suffciency is probably not the goal, but it is the direction we want to go in,” says Matt. “We’ll never be completely self sufficient, but we haven’t bought meat or eggs from a supermarket in years.”
The only veges they buy are mushrooms, peas and carrots.
“I have to buy carrots because Taranaki soil is so fertile your carrots end up like forks.”
Their garden is still a work in progress but is based on a permaculture design, part of another stroke of good luck.
“We won a competition run by Greenbridge (a sustainable property design company), about $800 worth of consultancy fees. It’s kind-of permaculture design and they helped plan it, and they also helped us out with a 12 month planting orchard, helped us pick the trees, so we get fruit right through the year. The maps they do are awesome, and you get a calendar with months of the year in a circle and what fruits you get.
“We’ve got the base orchard planted out, the apples, pears, peaches, that sort of stuff, but we haven’t quite finished developing the subtropical garden, that’s mainly a big topsoil pile outside the house.”
In permaculture there are no lawns, but on this block, there is James and he needs a lawn says his mum.
“I was like yeah, nah! Out front of the house is north-facing and beautifully sloped and I want lawn in front of my house. I don’t want to look at my vege garden when it’s in a state
of disarray, that can go out the back.”
The couple have also planted out trees around the wetter areas of their property, and say they can already see a difference in the water quality on their side of the fence.
“We’ve done a couple of riparian planting blocks,” says Melissa. “When we came here one hill was completely covered in gorse – it would have been over Matt’s height in woolly nightshade too. We’ve had friends spend hours with us on weed whackers.”
Friend Lance Palmer built the hen house as a structure to test hemp mixes. He gifted it to the couple for their flock.
The garden will eventually expand, but right now the only vegetables the family needs to buy are carrots and mushrooms.