Thanksgiving Reflections

We’ve turned the clocks ahead, we’ve sown the first seeds of spring, our neighbour’s new calves are running around in their paddock…and we’re on the cusp of (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend?

If I were to choose a favourite holiday, Thanksgiving would probably be it. It’s somehow avoided (most of) the commercial hype that weighs down many other holidays, it revolves around a really big meal shared with family and friends, and it’s purpose is simple: take a bit of intentional time together to be thankful. Nice. Of course, the history of its origins in North American is a bit…dubious, but still I like it. So, this weekend, despite the opposite seasons, I’ll do a bit of Thanksgiving celebrating here in Whitecliffs.

The past few weeks have, as one might expect, revolved around the garden. Some of the main activity there has been:

  • weeding the ever-present cooch grass
  • raking beds into shape
  • planting pathways with a dwarf variety of white clover
  • planting the first round of cover crops (mustard, vetch, lupins, phacelia, oats, etc.)
  • planting some early radishes (and hoping it’s not too soon for them!)
  • sowing many more trays of seedlings for starting indoors – and in the propagation house
  • working on the final section of garden fence
  • welcoming four beautiful new laying hens to the farm!

The lovely ladies: Brownie, Clucky, Cheeky, and Martha. Naming credits go to Thoje’s son, Luca.

As you can see, we’re in no danger of getting bored! In between time in the garden, we’ve also had a few events at Toi Toi Manawa over the past little while. We had a seed swap event one Saturday afternoon, where we invited our neighbours in Whitecliffs over to trade seeds and young plants from their gardens and seed collections. It was a rainy afternoon and, besides being a great chance to swap seeds, it was a nice opportunity to enjoy some cups of tea together and chat about our gardens.

The garden – as of a couple of weeks ago. Beds taking shape!

A few days later, we had a community film screening of One Man. One Cow. One Planet. It’s a documentary about biodynamic agriculture, featuring Peter Proctor, who happens to be from New Zealand himself. As we munched on popcorn, we had a good discussion about biodynamics and our various takes on it. It’s especially relevant for us because our friends Dominique and Logan are embarking upon their first season of biodynamic market gardening together. We’ll certainly have plenty to learn from their experiences as the season progresses.

A major highlight came for us this past weekend. We’ve been getting together for dinner now and then with an informal group of folks in the Christchurch area who are interested in permaculture. A really neat bunch of people, most of whom we met at the Australasian Permaculture Convergence we attended back in April. Last weekend, the group ventured out here to Toi Toi Manawa for a potluck dinner, farm tour and working bee. We ended up with about 20 people here – filling up shipping container rooms, sofas, floor space, and tents! With such a wide range of knowledge and experience, this group of people brought us all kinds of ideas. And we had so much fun! It felt really good to have the place so full (when it’s so often just Andy and I here!) and to be surrounded by such enthusiasm and support. And we got lots of good work done too! If you’re interested, there are some more photos of the weekend on the Toi Toi Manawa facebook page.

Fencing building with the team.

As usual, we’ve also been venturing out into the nearby countryside once in a while. One recent excursion was an afternoon drive to Lake Coleridge. Despite having a good idea of how beautiful it was going to be, I was still blown away when we came around the final bend and the lake came into view. I actually dropped my camera. Without another person in sight, we made our way down to the shore for some rock skipping and oooohing and aaaahing at the place. It amazes me that we live so close to such incredible places.

In New Zealand, we’ll be celebrating the harvest season on the flip side of the year. Right now, we’re thankful for the hope and anticipation of spring. The opportunity to grow good food in a beautiful place. The space to learn. The freedom to express ourselves through a garden. And, of course, the ability to share all of this with people all around the world! Thank you for reading.

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