Introduction to Permaculture design process (and ethics/principles) to design your garden and personal life.


Timing is everything!  I am lucky to count both Doris and her daughter Silvia as good friends: I was enjoying a lovely meal with Silvia and said ‘Is your mom planning on doing a permaculture day soon?’ Silvia said she didn’t know, but within 24 hours Doris had sent the invitation for April!  I always enjoy the drive up from Welly and was greeted by Bob, Doris and 15 participants for the first Toru Trail event. 

The day was a mix of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Time inside provided the space to introduce the day and meet each other. Doris shared her journey of integrating the permaculture design process into her personal life. This was followed by a brief introduction to the permaculture approach and the design process underpinned by ethics and principles.

For the ‘outside time,’ the team created opportunities for some hands-on experiences of the urban setting within the well-connected community of Paekākāriki. It’s so great that you can go beyond your boundaries in this little village if your garden doesn’t feel quite spacious enough. Doris helps her neighbour with her garden and shares all the produce. She and Bob also look after the garden by the Community Sharing Pantry at the lay-by Council parking space.

We divided into three groups and got our hands ‘dirty’:

  • We turned over the compost at Doris’ place and shared rich and alive compost (with infinite numbers of wiggly worms) between all the fruit trees. We harvested all the pumpkins that took over the garden; successful strategy of pumpkins to take over in the best possible way.
  • We harvested grapes and the last lot of basil at the neighbour's. There was such an abundance of grapes we left a big bowl for the neighbour,  took some back for our group's swap table, and a large part went to the community’s Pataka Kai - Sharing Pantry.
  • At the Sharing Pantry, we gave some love to the little gardens around it by weeding and planting bulbs for a spring surprise. 

It soon was lunchtime -  Doris provided the basics of a pumpkin soup and homemade bread, which was beautifully complemented by everyone’s contributions. The crop swap sharing table was also overflowing with abundance, with wholesome diversity from each others’ gardens; fruit, seeds, seedlings. After lunch, we had lots to talk about. In another round of sharing, we compared what we observed and noticed.  

To close, Doris summarised the design process, blending in the questions as they arose.  So much rich exchange and learning when a circle gathers this way!   I left feeling completely inspired - and my 100+-year-old pear tree got some TLC from compost and leaves when I got home. 

Susan Basterfield


Introducing each other, and sharing each others’ questions and reflections



Harvestign grapes


Harvesting the last of the Basil


Giving the pear trees and the gardens by the community lay-by some love and care, 

and planting bulbs as spring surprises.

All photos by Bob Zuur