Chooks, Worms, & Permaculture in Judy’s Garden
We knew even before we arrived at Judy’s that we would enjoy our time there. That’s mostly attributed to the fact that our friends Ashley & Justin stayed with Judy after they went camping with us on the Coromandel. And true to what was expected, from our first day we started to consider extending our stay. Which is what we did! In all, we spent 5 weeks with Judy on her lifestyle block.
Every morning after breakfast and evening before dinner it was our job to feed the chickens (chooks, as they call them here) and collect their eggs. We really became friends with the chooks, even though some cheeky birds liked to escape from their coop and peck at the silverbeet in the garden.
For the first 3 weeks of our stay, we shared the house not only with Judy, but with another Dutch helper named Elma. She has been traveling through New Zealand for the past year learning permaculture and organic gardening. Judy helped to arrange a job for her picking daffodils & tulips at a flower farm nearby. It was lovely to have the company, as well as a lesson in yogurt making!
You might notice our identical twin cars behind us. What are the odds?!
Of all the places we’ve stayed during our travels in New Zealand, this was hands-down where we learned the most about organic gardening, permaculture, and sustainability. It wasn’t just the piles of Organic NZ magazines that we devoured during our stay; we can read books and magazines anywhere. I think it was also because we stayed in one place longer than a week or two and we were entrusted with regular, daily duties (like feeding the chickens). It was nice to settle in and get a good feel for the day to day activities of growing lots of your own food and keeping animals. Other hosts would ask us to do the weeding or stack the firewood–which we were happy to do–but you don’t need to learn much to successfully accomplish those tasks.
At Judy’s we were able to accomplish heaps of projects and we really felt that we made a difference.
We also created this herb garden by the garage . . .
. . . dug out a composting worm farm (which we affectionately named Wormwood Estates) . . .
. . . harvested organic asparagus from the front paddocks . . .
. . . and so much more like moving electric fences for the cows, digging out barbury bushes from the fenceline, and stacking firewood.
Judy was even kind enough to take us to a tree grafting workshop hosted by the New Zealand Tree Croppers Association. We learned how to take a cutting from one variety of apple tree and graft it onto any other apple tree so it will produce more than one variety! Later that week we planted our trees in the garden. Just a few days before we left we were able to see tiny buds shooting out from the trees we planted!
When we weren’t working, we spent time with new friends from Horsham Downs Community Church watching rugby, wake boarding on the river, & training for our 5K & 10K races. More on those things later, though. For now, we’ll leave you with one of my most favorite things: hanging out clean laundry in the warm sunshine (it really is the little things).
Check out more pictures of our time at Judy’s on Facebook!