We are sisters Janice and Caroline Green and have taken over a 13 acre equestrian property in Hunua with the aim of creating an organic market garden and crafting organic artisan sheeps' milk cheese using regenerative farming principles.
The property was previously home to competitive eventing horses and we plan to start out with a market garden and gradually add in animals as we achieve one goal after another.
We will introduce a small flock of dairy sheep and will use the milk to craft artisan cheeses in the style of the Basque region of France, a speciality of which is to add the famous Piment d'Espalette (grown in the market garden) to cheese.
There may also be the odd cow or two hanging around and of course, the chook run will be full.
In the meantime, the property has very little in terms of trees, bushes and general plants that attract bees and protect against the wind. In the course of our first winter on the property we intend to plant over 200 trees (fruit, shelter and indigenous) and as many manuka, kanuka and flax as is needed to help create shade and variety across the property. These will all be planted out following Richard Perkin’s (Ridgedale Farm, Sweden) protocol of large holes, oodles of compost and a healthy drenching of a fungal tea and other microorganisms to get the trees off to the best possible start. The market garden will be the first part of the plan to be implemented, starting with 20 x 10m beds. These beds will be home to over 80 different types of vegetable over the next year, planted following Charles Dowding’s No-dig methodology. This method of planting uses a layer of cardboard over existing plants (in our case rye grass) and then using a 15cm layer of compost into which you plant seedlings directly.
Tunnel houses will also be used to bring on seedlings and to satisfy Caroline’s passion for growing chillies, from the gentle varieties such as Padron and Piment d'Espalette to the unbearbly hot Bhot Jholokia and Ghost peppers.
All beds will be planted with a variety of plants, a companion planting plan has been created to ensure the best health of the plants (many hours were spent on planning this!).
We will happily plant according to customer needs, if someone requires a certain type of vegetable, they will endeavour to source seeds and produce healthy plants.
So far, calculations have worked out that over 56 m3 of compost will be needed for the planting and bed stage and over 200m of cardboard will be required for the initial stage.
All grass around the house (which is also getting a huge accomodation upgrade) will be replaced with clover, which along with being a great carbon sump also doesn’t need to be mowed which allows more time for other things!