Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rainbow Valley Farm, NZ

Rainbow Valley Farm was established in 1988 by Joe Polaischer and Trish Allen on what their neighbours referred to as 'rubbish land'. Wall-to-wall gorse weed, and deemed unfarmable. The most inspiring thing for me was observing such a richness of life, and such diversity in an evidently established state, and then discovering that it was all done in less than 15 years! Here's an amazing story reminding us that if we devote our energies to developing beneficial, tangible realities we're establishing real physical connections -  a living system of co-creating elements, which provides that entire system and all it's co-ceators a better position.

Here's their story:
In 1988 we arrived at the run-down farmland we had purchased in Matakana, north of Auckland, New Zealand, in a housetruck, carrying with us a dream to become self-sufficient and tread lightly on the Earth. We had been influenced by our travels in the Third World and the stark evidence we found of the unfair distribution of wealth. We had also discovered permaculture and read the books by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Permaculture made sense to us and we were keen to put it into action.

We named the farm “Rainbow Valley Farm” because we saw so many rainbows arching over our new home.

The land, considered to be “rubbish land” by local farmers, was eroded, weed and pest infested, and the heavy clay sub-soils were a bog in winter and as hard as concrete in summer. The waterways were choked with an introduced aquatic grass. The first few years were hard going, and at times we wondered if we were crazy!

But now, 22 years later, we have a highly productive organic garden and orchard, an energy-efficient passive solar home and a wonderfully rich lifestyle. Animals, birds and bees are integrated into our edible landscape. We produce most of our own food on the farm and sell our surplus at our local farmers market in Matakana. We have planted approx. 13,000 trees over the years - timber, firewood, amenity trees and over 800 fruit and nut trees.
Our compost toilets (the ultimate in recycling) help close the loop by providing rich compost for our fruit trees — what comes off the land goes back to the land. We are aiming for zero waste.

Our water comes from springs near the highest point on the farm, and is gravity fed to our house and gardens. Our used water with all its nutrients goes to the orchard.

The farm has become known as a model of permaculture and now we run tours and workshops each summer to share what we have learnt with others. Over the years we have hosted groups from garden clubs, schools, kindergartens and university students from New Zealand and overseas, as well as government ministers and United Nations advisors.

We also take in a small number of interns and volunteers who work with us on the farm and take part in our daily lives.


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