- Hillside Garden
- Vegetable Garden
- Food Forest
- Spray Free
- Lifestyle Property
Driven by a shared passion for conservation and sustainability, Aaron and Melissa have been transforming their three acre hillside section for the past 10 years, with a formidable combination of creativity, resourcefulness and sheer hard work. Their achievements to date are impressive, and include an extensive tiered vegetable garden, a new large food forest project, hügelkultur beds, rammed earth tyre retaining walls…..yet one can’t help but leave with the feeling that this is just the beginning!
With backgrounds in science, education and ecology, Aaron and Melissa are great problem solvers, focussed on ‘closing the loop’ and turning the problems they encounter along the way into opportunities to do things better. The discovery, for example, that the septic tank and grey water drainage system they inherited were seriously flawed, has led them to research, design and build their own composting toilet, humanure system and grey water mulch basins.
“We focus on sustainability, conserving water, repurposing and up-cycling, while still having an attractive looking garden.”
Making their own nutrient-rich compost and brewing liquid plant food using beneficial bacteria are key for improving soil health and productivity. Encouraging beneficial insects into the garden is also a priority, with specific planting of flowers and herbal ley crops, insect hotels and allowing vegetables to flower and go to seed.
Aaron and Melissa care for a range of animals on the property - including ducks, chickens, horses and kune kune - but perhaps their most surprising ‘livestock’ can be found in their small-scale insect farm, where they farm mealworms as an alternative, sustainable protein source.
Future projects include building a passive solar greenhouse using old windows and a rammed earth tyre wall for the south wall, a rocket- stove for cooking and heating water for a hot tub, ambitious plans to expand their permaculture food forest and a vision to farm edible insects on a commercial scale. Watch this space!
Melissa grew up in eastern Taranaki and Aaron the Waikato. They have been married for nearly 16 years and are ‘living their dream’ - to own land and raise their children in Taranaki.
Melissa has a background in ecology, conservation, and entomology. She has worked in many educational roles, as an environmental educator and now as a secondary school science and biology teacher. Aaron also has a background in ecology and conservation and currently works part-time as a science technician.
The garden is a real focus for family life, and everyone has their part to play. “We involve the kids in as much as we can - we want them to learn about food resilience, sustainability and to appreciate the outdoors. They help us with everything from planting seeds to slug and snail hunts, digging holes and picking up pony poo!”
Melissa and Aaron love sharing their garden and inspiring people to create their own unique and more sustainable garden. “It’s fair to say we’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, and if we were to start again we’d do a lot of things differently. We are looking forward to being able to share what we have learnt, the ‘failures’ as well as the successes, so that others don’t have to make the same mistakes that we did.”
We focus on sustainability, conserving water, repurposing and up-cycling, while still having an attractive looking garden.
We are loving the long hot days of summer, in the garden we are currently sowing for autumn/winter crops and trying to keep on top of weeds by planting more and wool mulching.
We continue to do lots of regular spraying of our different natural Lactobacillus fertilisers, especially on our rigorous fruit-producing plants like strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, peppers, etc. This really helps with productivity.
We are also cutting hay - we do this by hand as our land is too steep for tractors - it is a hot job, but very rewarding. We are also slowly making a start on our large recycled window passively heated glasshouse which will connect our garden tiers with the food forest.
We are harvesting lots of stone fruit, lettuce, cucumbers and courgettes, our tomatoes and peppers are just starting, there are yellow and green beans, beetroot, basil, spring onions, and strawberries galore. Our Māori potatoes (2 varieties this year) will be ready this month.
Subject to availability in our shop we often have eggs, seasonal fruit and vegetables, preserves, seedlings, insect hotels, frass (insect waste fertiliser), plant food concentrate, upcycled crafts, salves, candles, soaps and other sustainable living solutions.
What Aaron and Melissa have created is not just a garden... it's an exemplar for a more sustainable way of living.- Jane, Christchurch
What a wonderful experience. They were so welcoming of us and full of knowledge, ideas and enthusiasm for what they are creating. It was wonderful!- Chris