Community garden progressing well

It’s been a busy month in the community garden — we’ve had three working bees and made a lot of progress.

Today we finished the first phase of planting in the garden for this year. So far, we have:

  • planted feijoa trees between part of the garden and the neighbours as a screen that will also produce delicious fruit
  • planted all the fruit trees — apples, pears, nashis and plums
  • planted the support trees around the fruit trees to provide protection and to help fix nitrogen in the soil for plant growth
  • mulched around all the trees to keep down weeds and help the soil retain water over the driest part of the year.

We still have to put in some wind breaks by the trees to protect them from the wind that comes from the northwest, which can be pretty strong at times. Of course, we’ll need to keep the grass down, but we’ve got a scythe and some keen users so we can do it without disturbing the neighbours with noisy machinery. Spring and summer will be busy with making sure the trees are OK, and well watered during the dry season. Fortunately, the council installed a tap for us when they built the access onto the site, so we have a permanent and reliable water supply.

We also have to start planting the smaller support plants, which will help accumulate minerals for the trees and build up the soil health, and we’d also like to get some berry plants in there, too. We’re trying to follow permaculture principles to create an ecosystem that has a wide range of plants, soil biota and insects that all support each other.

It looks like we have got more funding from Porirua City Council under their Village Planning programme again this year, so we’ll be able to do more planting over the next 12 months. We’ll look at establishing a different range of plants from the pipfruit trees we’ve planted so far — perhaps more stone fruit, or maybe some citrus. We can’t wait!

Marking out the garden

Today a small, keen group worked in the community garden to prepare for our working bee tomorrow to get ready for planting the fruit trees arriving this month.

The community garden is really a ‘food forest’ that will eventually include a wonderful mixture of fruit trees, berries, herbs and support trees that will grow into a self-sustaining ecosystem. We’re developing it following permaculture principles to create a diverse and integrated system that is rich in plant, insect and microbe life, and recycles nutrients and doesn’t need many inputs from us. Continue reading “Marking out the garden”

Community Garden consultation

We had a great meeting at the site of the Community Garden on Sunday, having invited all the neighbours to discuss the project and contribute with ideas and feedback. Everyone who turned out was enthusiastic and eager to participate, so we are looking at getting things moving ahead. With this in mind – everyone in the community is invited to a meeting at 7pm, Thursday 19 October at the School Hall to contribute to the planning for the immediate and longer term future of the garden.

If you have anything you would like to put on the agenda; ideas and feedback,  skills, materials or other resources to contribute, please feel free to message here or comment on the Facebook posts’s discussion.

Garden holly oak shelter belt started

We planted 30 trees today, mostly tagasaste, which fixes nitrogen and helps to improve the soil, and can later be be coppiced for firewood and sacrificial mulch. It will serve to shelter the holly oaks while they get established to form the main long-term shelter. We even managed to sneak some lavender amongst proceedings too. Many thanks to everyone who turned up to help!

Food forest garden Queen’s birthday working bee

To celebrate Her Royal Majesty’s birthday, let’s build a compost station and some raised beds after lunch on Monday.  Kick-off at 1pm on Monday 5 June (more event details here), and subject to availability we can get a few tree and nursery species in the ground too.

Things we need

  • Used pallets (7 initially)
  • Some sleeper timbers
  • Lengths of driftwood from the beach
  • Plants. Currently, donations will be gratefully accepted of the following trees and shrubs for the nursery and beginning shelter layers: tagasaste (Cytisus proliferus), holly oak (Quercus ilex), common lavender (Lavendula augustifola), and feijoa (any good variety).

It might be a bit wet to try to get a shed in place on the back of a truck, but Malcolm from PCC is keen to get the water tank sorted soon.

If you are interested in participating in the community food forest garden project, please contact Jonathan at the Residents’ Association through the Contact Us page with your email address and/or a contact phone number, so we can keep a mailing/phone list of interested folks. For instance, one of the first things we need to figure out is the best way to facilitate discussion and coordinate resources and tasks between working bees, whether that be email, Facebook, this website, a wiki, smoke signals, or some other method.

Allotment beds at Innermost Gardens, Wellington.

Food forest garden working bee!

Hi folks, it’s really happening! Let’s all catch up tomorrow at 10 am (see event details) and meet and greet. We have our garden plan (PDF) to work from, and we need to mark out where the things will go, who has access to what resources, and what we can get started with first.

Things to do

New gate and mulched grass.

The council have already mown and mulched the site for us, so that’s the first thing done from the list of tasks in the plan. Likely candidates for things we can start doing are:

  • Construct the composting station. There’s a nice easy way to build this out of used pallets.
  • Construct some initial allotment beds: 3-4 raised beds, 1.2 – 3 metres, over winter, ready for spring planting. Sleeper timbers or similar (driftwood?) required.
  • Minor earthworks, to cut 20-30 cm swale steps along contours in places. I think we’ll need a bobcat for this, or it’s a large amount of manual spade labour. We may be able to engage the council here.
  • Plant nursery trees (tagasaste, lavender) to improve the soil, fix nitrogen and shelter later tree plantings.
  • Plant some of the orchard tree species that are tolerant of wind and poor soil (feijoa, bamboo, apple varieties “Irish Peach” and “Priscilla”).

We are currently investigating the option to move one of the old shelter buildings from the closed Muri Station onto the site, to use as the potting/tool shed, and the council are willing to provide a water tank for garden and Civil Defence use.

Things to bring

  • Gumboots (required),
  • enthusiasm (required), and optionally:
  • measuring tape,
  • a spade,
  • pencil and paper,
  • any plants you’d like to donate; at this stage we only envisage planting Tagasaste (Cytisus proliferus), Lavender (Lavendula dentata), or Feijoa (Acca sellowiana), and
  • if someone could bring a drone so we can get a top-down photograph, that would be super-fantastic and help with mapping and plotting.

Community food forest garden access is ready

Good news! There is now sensible access along the Muri Station platform and a new gate into our new community garden / food forest area on Muri Reserve. The council have provided us with a mains water connection and have mown and mulched the grass on the site ready for planting.

We would like to run an opening and working bee this weekend. There’s plenty to do, and there is an initial list of jobs in our short term annual garden plan. Any and all donations of time, materials, tools or required professional services will be gratefully received.

Iif you are interested in participating please get in touch with the RA secretary via the Contact Us page!

Muri Reserve access progress

We will soon have much improved access to the Muri Reserve, thanks to Porirua City Council – here’s the work in progress.

Community Food Forest update: vehicle access!

It has been a while, perhaps too long; but although it may look like nothing has happened in the last year or two, your intrepid Residents’ Association has navigated a long and complex journey on your behalf, so that we can now, legally, finally, begin our planned community food forest!

Muri Reserve, with the community food forest site. Vehicle access from the end of Muri Road, along the station platform, across the ditch and to a gate in the fence, shown in yellow.

Porirua City Council are building vehicle access this month to the community food forest site on Muri Reserve. The access will go from the end of Muri Road, along the station platform, and across the ditch to a new gate in the fence, as shown in yellow on the map.

Getting the green light

To legally establish the community food forest, and to set it up to continue indefinitely as a community-stewarded project, required several things.

Firstly, we needed an organisation to take responsibility for stewarding the project, and maintaining its links to and engagement with the community. Initial discussions were around establishing a charitable trust, but the constitutional principles of the Residents’ Association to act and liaise on behalf of Pukerua Bay community projects was a natural fit.

Second, we needed a licence to garden on the Muri Reserve site from the Porirua City Council. Although this was more straightforward at the beginning, the process got a bit bogged down because of the Muri Reserve site boundary with the KiwiRail main trunk corridor. The licence was further complicated by the fact that the site is on reserve land, governed by The Reserves Act 1977, which requires more regulations and careful considerations of liability than would otherwise be the case. However, in June 2016, Te Komiti approved our application for the issuing of a licence for gardening, and this agreement has now been signed.

Thirdly, we needed to sign a scary-looking legal access agreement with KiwiRail for the vehicle access, which runs alongside the closed Muri Station platform. This arose from the gardening licence negotiations with council, and involved quite a lot of to-and-fro, and a good amount of persistence on our behalf from council staff. However this agreement is now signed and in place, and work to build the vehicle access will be commencing this month.

We also needed to lodge our shorter-term annual garden plan for the community food forest with the council parks department for approval, which is also happening this week. This is to ensure that we are adhering to local by-laws and so on, and not doing anything silly like planting convolvulus, or having a bonfire. (No, we can’t ever have bonfires on Muri Reserve land. Sorry.)

And finally, we needed to agree to pay public liability insurance. This is fairly standard nowadays unfortunately, due to changes in legislation around work safety, occupational health, ACC, local government liability and so on. The RA is now up for an annual insurance bill of a few hundred dollars a year to cover this, and would appreciate any fund-raising ideas or efforts from willing enthusiastic residents!

If you’re still reading this, well done; even more excruciating detail is available in the RA minutes, which you can browse here.