It is great to welcome back Wes from Te Mahanga this week and the Big Fat Cherry Co and Urbn Vino plus Butlers Berries are promising to be there with heaps of raspberries. Stone fruit has started to arrive with a few early apricots last week and the potential for peaches this week.
The market is a great place to buy gifts for those people who seem to have everything. From consumables like delicious wine, hand made spirits, port that sends you to heaven and back, olive oil and relishes and chutneys to style-ly denim aprons, pure linen tea towels, bees wax wraps, keep cups and gift vouchers all available at the market hub.
I recently had the absolute pleasure of visiting Fiona and Lian from Waewae Permaculture. Waewae literally translates as feet/legs but the meaning extends far beyond that to include a place to stand, a place where we feel especially empowered and connected (turangawaewae), our place in the world, home. For Fiona and Lian it also means no tractors and reliance on their legs and feet to get things done around the property!
Lian Redding and Fiona Collings certainly look and feel very grounded and happy at their idyllic Purakaunui market garden and home.
They use regenerative, bio-intensive farming principles on an acre of coastal, river alluvium which they supplement with certified organic compost, their own compost and liquid emulsions. The land for the past 30 years had been farmed on organic principles and was used primarily for grazing horses, before they started growing food on it.
This is the third growing season that Lian and Fiona have been working the land and growing food. From an outsider’s perspective it looks as though they have been doing it for longer than that. Harmony, order, the use of non-mechanical tools and their obvious contentment all add up to what really seems an utopic set-up.
Fiona is the green thumb having worked previously with local legend, John McCafferty and others in bio-intensive market gardens. They grow everything from seed, and it is, Fiona who grows the seedlings and manages that process. They also grow some plants specifically for harvesting seed, to help ensure continuity of certain crops.
All vegetables are grown under cloches to start with as the birds are particularly voracious where they are. Beds are broken in by covering with a tarp to kill the grass, then compost is added and planting begins. They use no dig principles but do use a brood fork to aerate the soil. Lian and Fiona also have several large tunnel houses where tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and other bits and bobs are grown. Primarily they grow salad greens, Asian greens for stir fry mixes, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, beets and other root vegetables, strawberries and raspberries under development.
Lian also has a super-power! He comes from a background with DOC and is a very talented inventor and builder, often repurposing items to suit their specific needs. There is a pleasing sense of both function and form with everything that Lian designs. Waewae have a very high standard of presentation of their produce at the market. All vegetables are washed in Lian’s wonderfully inventive washing machines, all solar powered - they are fully off the grid – and then packaged into compostable bags. The green leafy veg actually get an effervescent wash resulting in a sparkly clean finish! The trailer they bring to the market has a refrigeration unit in it and is plugged in to the shed power to chill veges from when they’re harvested until they are taken to the market. Another clever Lian invention.
They are fortunate to have access to spring water and Lian has set up a gravity feed system that gets the water to where it needs to be.
Fiona and Lian draw a lot of inspiration from self-sustainability, British author John Seymour and Canadian, Curtis Stone. Their underlying values align with homesteading principles. They grow virtually all their own food including grains and beans for drying. Eventually they would like to be able to offer workshops for other aspiring homesteaders.
Their grass is kept at a manageable level by their three alpacas, again no mechanical lawn mowers here.
Apart from the farmers market Lian and Fiona put together a weekly vege box for several of their neighbours. They are not interested in getting a lot bigger as they want to be able to manage the workload with just the two of them, although they may employ a picker from time to time.
See you Saturday.