Kelvin Passfield : How to survive a pandemic

Saturday May 16, 2020 Written by Kelvin Passfield Published in Environment
Here Allan in her wonderful deck garden. 20051594 Here Allan in her wonderful deck garden. 20051594

OPINION: Well it is now looking very much like we have come through the Covid-19 pandemic relatively unscathed, apart from the ongoing economic fall-out of course. 

But, what if things had been different?  What if our borders remained tightly shut, and even goods imported by ship and plane were not possible? How would we have done then? 

Well, living in the middle of her own very productive organic garden in Tikioki, Here Allen, a longtime Te Ipukarea Society supporter, would probably have been just fine! 

Te Ipukarea Society staff were invited by June Hosking, Here’s daughter, to have a guided tour of this tropical food basket.  It was truly amazing what was growing, seemingly with very little effort although clearly the labour of love 

We found different varieties of kumara, rukau, rukau viti, Chinese cabbages, wing beans, strawberries, garlic chives, among many others, all growing for easy picking on the deck. 

They were thriving in different shaped and sized containers, most that had been recycled from what most people would consider plastic rubbish. These included old polystyrene foam chilly bins, plastic 20 litre oil drums cut in half, as well as several commercial type pots.

The garden deck overlooks the rest of the shaded garden that surrounds the family house, where there are a variety of fruit trees growing. These include avocado and the sapodilla, a large fruit with brown skin and flesh similar in colour to the dark orange of Hawaiian pawpaw. 

Some of the mango trees have little walls around them into which organic material is thrown to ‘feed’ the tree. 

In other places the trees are fed from several compost bins placed strategically around the garden. 

The compost nutrients seep out from the bottom of the compost bin and are taken up by the roots of the trees. Of course, even the compost bins are made from recycled material, in this case old washing machines with the insides removed. 

Also in the garden we found the unusual and versatile vegetable known as choko, which is like a vegetable pear and grows on a vine. It can be used in a variety of recipes from savoury to sweet. 

There was also the herb pi, which is used to give the pleasant smell to the famous miracle oil from Ma‘uke, Akari Pi oil.

Here also has a chicken coop, providing a great additional source of protein to the diet, without ever having to leave home! June says that for her mother, the hens will kindly lay their eggs in regular locations or in other easy to find nests.

The hens afford no such courtesy to June at her home in Ma‘uke, making her hunt high and low to locate her breakfast.

The natural cycle of life is evident here. The plants drop leaves which are left to break down to feed the earth which in turn then feeds the plants. 

June points out that “humans interfere with this cycle by raking supposed rubbish away from the trees, and then often times burning it!”

Of course, Here’s garden is not all about food, it is also full of beautiful flowers. June pulls back a bush with green roses to surprise us with a deep red bromeliad inflorescence. 

We leave, grateful for the charming experience and also for the armfuls of bright pink rau ti and some vegetable plant cuttings for us to grow in Te Ipukarea Society office garden.

So, if we find ourselves in a pandemic situation again, and our borders get shut down completely for a while, if we have a garden like Here’s, we probably won’t even notice!

Te Ipukarea Society

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