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Urban Garden Update December 2013

We’ve been so busy here at Koanga that I haven’t had a chance to post Kay’s updates about the Urban Garden – we are getting huge amounts of food from it and it looks amazing.  Here’s a summary of what’s been going on in the last few months.

November 2013

We began installing our 200 sq m urban garden over the past 6 months. We planted the 40 sq m Bio intensive vege beds in September, having planted the fruit trees over winter and having already installed the chickens and the rabbits.

We have been focusing on getting animal food planted in every available space including all the paths around the garden and site so we can become sufficient in rabbit and chickens greens asap. We have not yet installed the guinea pig tractor system.

We began harvesting veges from the garden in early November but did not begin collecting data until November 21st! We harvested the following in this 10 days from the garden

50 organic high quality eggs                                            $25

22 Odells lettuces worth $1.50 each                             $33

Welsh Bunching onions each day $1.95 a bunch      $19.50

2 kgs of  courgettes 1 a day @ $7 kg                             $14

That makes a total of $91.50 for the first month  $25 eggs and $66.5 veges


We are harvesting comfrey, chicory, alfalfa and clover/grass from the site for daily chicken greens and rabbit greens, but we are wild harvesting tagasaste to feed the rabbits. (Rabbits can’t live on fresh greens alone, but tagasaste is a complete food for them).

We are still buying in fertiliser to get the minerals in the beds balanced and levels high, so we get high brix food, and we are still feeding the chickens organic sprouted corn, and adding chicken minerals and seaweed to their corn ,until the worm farm and the soldier fly farm are in production and/or the compost heap is full of decomposers


 December 2013

130 organic high quality eggs value                  $65

courgettes  18kgs                                                  $126

Welsh bunching onions 30 small bunches      $58

Odell’s Lettuces  64  @$1.50 each                      $96

Daikon Tokinashi 50kgs    $5 kg                       $250

Kaiapoi bush beans    5.7kgs @  $9kg                $51

Magenta Spreen 6 bunches @$3                         $18

Chives 10 bunches @ $1.95                                  $19.5

Lemons 10 kgs @ $5                                               $50

Total $733!!!!!!! Unbelievable … and there is way more to come……. Watch this space!!!!

This month we are still wild harvesting tagasaste, we are learning that rabbits don’t eat it when it is seeding so it works well to harvest trees as you need the feed then they will all grow at slightly different times meaning new growth all the time.

Still feeding sprouted corn and minerals and seaweed to chickens.

Using our vermiliquid  to feed the fruit trees and comfrey, and harvesting chicken and rabbit greens from the site daily.

The guinea pig tractor track around the garden is now ready to be harvested by guinea pigs but until we have them will need to harvest ourselves for the chickens to compost!

We’ll improve our data collecting systems next month, to maximize info for us all, it’s looking better and better and wilder and wilder as we maximize harvesting sunlight in this 200 sq m model urban garden.


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Kays garden – January

Kay’s Garden January 2014

I love this time of the year, not only do we get to begin the full on summer harvest, we also get to be putting aside our  seed for next year. I really love that feeling of completing the cycle of saving the seed and knowing that it is that cycle, that ongoing cycle that creates the process of co evolution, the process that means we are connected to our ‘place’, and our ‘place’ is connected to us, and we communicate in many ways and create an ecology ……..that is what creates strength and resilience and health and that super alive feeling that one feels in these special places of huge connection and energy. These are actually places where the sun’s energy is being harvested and absorped, and recycled and gifted to the soil microbes by the plant roots , and recycled and used so many times by the diverse range of elements in the system that the energy exchanges and the life happening are palpable.

We’re eating our early White Rocombole garlic, outstanding cultivar from the henry Harrington Collection, that was harvested and dried and ready to eat in mid November. Our early Fred’s dwarf beans are finished now, and the White Scotch runner bean in full swing. I love runner beans, if picked early they are the most juicy tender and flavoursome of all beans. White Scotch are my current favourites, they came to this land with our Scottish forebears. I grow them for green beans, shellout beans and dry soup beans. I have begun pickling beans too, to store the surplus and provide ferments with our meals. We’ve been eating Henry’s Dwarf Bush tomatoes for 4 weeks or so now too. They are definitely worth putting under a cloche and getting them ripe in November through to the main crop tomatoes.

We haven’t had the seed available for two years now but it will be available in the new catalogue out in February, we’re processing it already, and the seed looks beautiful.


Xmas lunch at the beach in Wairoa was all from the garden. I always make potato salad, just like mum’s (minus the condensed milk salad dressing), and I grow Yellow Fir potatoes to make that with because they are ready right on Xmas every year.  (Other waxy great potatoes for potato salad are Karoro, Pink Fir, Whataroa, and Chatham Islands.) They are good croppers of super waxy delicious potatoes . I always make stuffed eggs as well, another dish my mother always made for Xmas and this is a great egg time of the year, or it should be. If your chickens have stopped laying already they needed more minerals to keep their bodies mineralied and able to lay for far a longer. We find adding chicken minerals to the their food every day helps keep them laying, in fact ensures they continue laying for far longer than without. Taiamai made hams for us for Xmas from our own pigs and they were a great success , and the tomato salad from our own hennery dwarf bush cherries and basil was perfect .

The first sweet corn isn’t far away, I planted Blue Aztec this year,and the  Bloody Butcher flour corn is already over 2m tall …. The hulless barley and the Essene flaxseed will be ready to harvest in a couple of weeks, and I’m already planning for my winter garden.

Following the Koanga Garden Planner , means that the quarter of the garden where the flaxseed and barley is coming out of, will be the section that becomes my winter heavy feeders. If I want to ensure I don’t have a huge vege gap in Autumn early winter then I must plant seed now of Brussels sprouts Fillbasket and my first kale and collards. In Northland and other subtropical areas it is not yet time to plant these crops but here and in colder areas it is.

I’m also planting successions of heat loving summer greens like Tampala and Magenta Spreen, both of which we’re eating now but they will not last until march without replanting, along with lettuces which will need planting in the shade. I’ll also plant a tripod of late beans for fun now and also a late courgette plant or two. Crookneck squash is my overall favourite

My favourite thing now though is the seed I’m putting away for next season.

I have the best of the Early White rocombole, the best of the flowering shallots, which came in this week, as well as the potato onions, and the Yellow Fir potatoes. The Southland Sno peas are finished and they will come out with the pea pods I saved for seed. I’ll leave a few Fred’s Dwarf beans in with their pods so I have seed of those and a few lettuces can be easily left in for seed as well. All of these things are self fertile and easy to save the seed of. The peas and bean seed along with the onions ad garlic will be stored in a brown paper bag in a dry place and the potatoes seed in an onion sack in a dry light place.


In the forest garden I have two muscovies on nests, and lots of very long seeding grass which we’re about to cut to make a lot of excellent mulch for all the trees and the perennial vegetable bed around the vegetable garden. We  harvested our first elderflowers this spring,, with lots of berries to come, and the support species for the fruit trees are growing well. The tagasaste has been a huge hit here, the fastest growing of the forest garden support species, but everything is doing well including eleagnus multiflora, also quite fast growing, choke berry aronia spp., Siberian pea tree, far slower growing but 1m in two years…acacia retinoides are flowering now and 2m tall, the Maakia amurensis that went in this past winter area doing well, the cardoons are flowering.

The blueberry patch with it’s alfalfa ground cover looks great, as is the very important comfrey patch, planted to soak up any nutrients leaving our site to feed back to the chickens and ducks. Actually the Chinese Weeder geese love it the best, but the chickens go mad on it and also the Indian Runner ducks. Muscovies don’t call it edible!!





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Fundraising Update – Save our seeds

Kia Ora,

We have been overwhelmed at the fantastic support that the Koanga member community has shown over the last month, it has been absolutely amazing……thank you!

As a sign of our appreciation to our donors to the ”Save our Seeds campaign” for their support, we sent an ebook gift  from the Koanga Institute team, a copy of one of Kay Baxter’s best selling books in ebook format.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that seed saving is slowly moving into mainstream focus. People are starting to understand that we are dependent on heritage seeds for both food security and higher levels of nutrition and health. With the UN estimating in 1994 that 94% of seeds varieties have been lost, the work that Koanga Institute and its founders are doing is more important than ever.

We would like to thank you for the $132,000 donated so far!!!! This is absolutely amazing and we are immensely grateful for your support for both the Koanga Institute and New Zealand’s heritage seeds future.
We have managed to negotiate one more extension on our impending 3rd January deadline for the first funds due, this has now been pushed back to the 30th of January.

We received a few comments that our last update was a little confusing, so we have clarified our goals below:

We need to raise a total of $700,000 by  June 29th  2014  to secure the land the heritage seed and tree collections grow on. Without this money we are at risk of losing the lot. We have some interim dates for a portion of these funds to be raised and paid to the landowners, the table below breaks this down including how much we have raised so far:

Due Date Amount Due Amount Raised to date Possible source of fundraising source
30th  January $ 295,000 $ 122,000 Online crowd fundraising
30th  June $ 405,000 $ 10,000 Speaking tours, workshop tours, business memberships, online auction, possible grants
Total $700,000 $ 132,000

We are conscious of being a non profit organisation focused on financial self reliance. Whilst we can sustain ourselves on a yearly basis, capital purchases such as land are not within our grasp with our current operating expenses. We are largely staffed by volunteers or staff who get paid very basic allowances. We are frugal with our operating costs. We are in the process of improving our current business model and offerings to ensure further development of Koanga Institute but this will take time i.e. 2 years to ramp up.

In our goal to purchase the land to save the seeds, we are not just asking for handouts, there are many ways that people can help that have tangible benefits i.e. buying a ticket and attending a talk by Kay Baxter on our nation wide tour, attending one of our workshops held in 5 locations in New Zealand, becoming a business member of Koanga Institute with benefits, donating to our online crowd fundraising campaign and receiving a free seed saving ebook.

Securing this land will not just mean the securing of New Zealand’s largest heritage organic tree and seed collections. It will also mean the securing of a future home for some of our research and development projects in self reliance and regenerative living.

The Koanga Institute has committed to developing a campus at 96 Kotare Road dedicated to:

  • holding our heritage food plant collections
  • research into all aspects of regenerative living
  • sharing our experience and knowledge

Through this, we aim to ensure the long-term sustainability, and regeneration of New Zealand’s bio-diversity heritage, and to contribute towards transformation in the wider community.

Primary Goals / objectives for 2013-2015

1. To continue our stewardship of our heritage collections, including:

  • new seed storage facilities
  • developing an East Coast heritage fruit tree collection further
  • continued collection of seeds
  • development of a seed bank incubator program within New Zealand

2.  To develop a research center that supports our vision.  Including the research,   modelling and promotion of:

  • the best practice of biological agriculture and production of nutrient dense food
  • the connections between soil, plant, animal and human health
  • the value of heritage varieties for nutrition and health.
  • the use of multi-tiered, perennial agricultural systems
  • use of traditional (non-industrialised) foods and food processing for good nutrition and health
  • appropriate technologies and self-reliant housing
  • appropriate social organisations (eg Community Land trusts, Bio-regional Associations,  Co-operatives etc)

3.   To further develop our membership base and the range of services offered to the public to ensure financial self reliance of Koanga Institute (a registered non profit organisation) including:

  • sales of seeds, books, booklets, and other products
  • an on-site campus for workshops, courses, internships and apprenticeships
  • seed bank incubator program
  • on-line courses and e-books.
  • consultancy and design
  • strategic commercial partnerships

4.  Once the land is paid for to research the development of a village community that models all aspects of our vision, including purchasing our leasehold site within the village
5.   To engage with a wide range of individuals and organisations nationwide and internationally in mutually supportive relationships and partnerships.
6.   To complete the transition from an organisation with a dominant ‘founder energy’  to an organisation that can be independent of the founders and engaged strongly in the wider national community.  This will include a 3 year program of skills development with the staff team, ongoing apprenticeships, and a well documented institutionalised set of processes and protocols.

Thank you for taking the time to read this note, refer below for more information on how you become involved.

Once again thank you for your amazing support, it IS truly APPRECIATED.
Kind regards

p.s. Please feel free to share all of these ideas and our need with all of your friends and contacts.

Crowd fund raising campaign-

We still need to raise more and would like your help to spread the word. We would be honoured if you would help us promote our crowd fund raising campaign to your community and friends through e-mail, newsletters, blogs, facebook,  other social media or contacting the media to tell out story. Click here to see our campaign.

Nationwide Speaking Tour
Our founder Kay Baxter is going on tour throughout New Zealand in May 2014  to talk about two very important topics, all funds raised go directly towards saving New Zealand’s heritage seeds and our campaign to buy the land the seeds grow on. The talk topics are:
1) Seeds, humans and the process of co-evolution
2) Nutrient dense food production and preparation for health

The tickets for these tours will go on sale click below to buy now (the first 50 tickets sold will receive a free Urban Garden booklet)

New Plymouth

Or can you help us with either sponsorship of the travel for the tour which will cover a campervan, small daily expenses and petrol or event locations ? This would offer significant media coverage. If so contact Emma [email protected]


Buy a business membership that offers your company many benefits click here to find out more
Become a life member for a lifetime of benefits click here to find out more

Spread the word:
Spread the word on facebook, twitter, google+ or any other online media/ distribution list. Contact the media and tell that you want to see us on TV

Sponsor someone on a course/ offer a scholarship- email [email protected] to find out more

Become an apprentice: We have a group of people willing to pay us to train garden and orchard designers and managers for a serious new co operative community in the Wairarpapa. Being accepted by this group as apprentices could potentially get you free training with us and entry and a wonderful work opportunity in this community. If you are keen please contract us urgently, or if you know somebody who may be interested please send this to them. This could support us a lot.

Do a course with us: Permaculture design course in February, Appropriate Technology Internship in February

The Koanga Institute is a nationally recognised charitable trust, dedicated to preserving the heritage food plants of Aotearoa. Over the past 30 years, fruit trees, vegetable seeds and perennial vegetables that are unique to NZ have been saved from extinction through our work. The Koanga Institute has also developed a comprehensive education program that offers the skills and understanding necessary for truly sustainable living in New Zealand, encompassing all aspects of health, sustainable food production and self reliance.