Where: Turangi, New Zealand
When: August 19 – August 31
Project: Permaculture, culture immersion
After spending two weeks at our first project with our host, Lisa, we can say we’ve already learned a lot on sustainable farming. Lisa has been running Awhi (aw-fee) Farm for 8 years and has an incredible wealth of knowledge around sustainable farming and the Maori culture. She is passionate about educating the youth on permaculture and encouraging the native Maori to embrace their roots. Lisa’s mission is to bring the Maori community together and create a village where they can all live off the food the land produces, all while sharing her knowledge of permaculture to the thousands of volunteers she’s hosted over the years.
Awhi Farm sits on a large parcel in Turangi, New Zealand, south of Lake Taupo. As you enter the gates at the main entrance, the Awhi Market welcomes you with several huts that serve delicious food made from ingredients produced on the farm. While the market was closed during our stay, we can only imagine how busy it can get during the warm summer months. As you continue down the path, you pass the educational kitchen and communal round dining table before you’re greeted by the main garden. Multiple plant beds filled with black mustard leaves, sorrel lettuce and green onions sit next to the buzzing beehive with fresh honey. Miner’s lettuce flood the grounds and the endless supply of the soft buttery greens can be picked and eaten on the spot.
Aerial view of Awhi Farm
Before and after pruning the garden
While the foundation for a robust farm had already been established by Lisa, there was still a lot of work to be done. Lisa is a nonstop project machine and constantly pumping out new ideas for her Maori village. We were eager to get our hands dirty and luckily, Lisa had a plethora of tasks we could dive into. In addition to gathering fresh produce for salads and eggs from the hens each day, we also helped with:
- Pruning the garden and greenhouse to prepare for next season’s harvest
- Helping out at the Maori school where they only teach in Maori. Lisa implemented a program to plant multiple gardens throughout the school where the kids take time twice a week to maintain and harvest the plants.
- Digging trenches and planting native Maori potatoes
- Planting lemon, lime, mandarin and orange trees
- Laying down turf to prevent weeds from invading plants
- Composting man-made soil
With this being our first project, we didn’t know what to expect. In the end, we gained so much and can’t wait to instill our learnings towards our next projects and into our daily lives. We are so grateful to Lisa for opening up her home to us and for kicking off our trip with an unforgettable experience.
Check out more photos below!