I had, had a strong interest in permaculture and been gardening organically for a number of years in Auckland; as well as expanding my collection of psychoactive cacti & ethnobotanical plants (of which I plan to open a nursery for in the future).
Before I had learned the concepts of ‘nutrient dense food’ or even heard of bio-intensive gardening I had the intuitive feeling this would be my calling. I felt it would be of the utmost importance to learn how to grow food to provide nutrition for my future family & community in a sustainable way. When I learned of the Koanga Institute I immediately applied for the apprenticeship to seek an opportunity to learn these skills.
I began my apprenticeship over five months ago in December. I have spent the summer honing my skills ias a bio-intensive gardener, thinking about permaculture principles & learning great life lessons about how to co-exist within a community. I love the experiences of community living & kinship here at Koanga. The people drawn to this crucial work of saving organic heritage seeds are lovingly generous people. I have learned more about life during mealtime conversations than I ever would have having pursued a conventional education.
Kay is a wonderful & dedicated gardener with a vast knowledge of Heirloom plants. While the teaching style here is much more hands on and less formalised than I am used to, I have still gleaned a lot of information from Kay. The very labour-intensive work is tiring and I often wonder if people buying our organic heritage seeds realise just how much energy goes into creating each packet we send out to them. However, I am enjoying the work as I feel the cause of the institute – to protect the Heirloom seed lines – is crucial.
As my garden goes into winter vegetables & compost crops I am feeling much more connected to the garden. Before I had ‘inherited’ many of the plants, but now I am raising them from seeds. I am looking forward to the winter season where I hope to carry out more of my own research.