A Visit from Yotam Kay and Building an Outdoor Classroom

Today we had Yotam Kay from Pakaraka Permaculture spend the whole day working with the Enviroschool and Earth School students teaching them about permaculture design, planting and sustainable living.

Pakaraka Permaculture is a 1/4 acre organic market garden, a Permaculture consultancy and an education centre for Permaculture, Organic gardening and Self-sufficiency, established in 2014 by Niva & Yotam Kay. Yotam holds a Diploma in Permaculture Design. He had been working on a wide range of projects; leading community garden projects, establishing food gardens & sustainability programs in schools, to managing organic commercial gardens in New Zealand.


Pakaraka Permaculture grows over 8000 kgs of food a season on a 1/4 acre farm

The day started with Yotam presenting to the whole school.  He explained what permaculture was and the kids (everyone actually!) were amazed that he grows over 8000 kgs of food a season from his 1/4 acre farm using permaculture techniques that improve the soil every year.


The students then could choose to build an outdoor classroom made from willow poles, plant out strawberries, lavender and native plants, or learn about permaculture design and apply this to the school farm design with Yotam.

The outdoor classroom group started with a lesson on how to calculate the circumference of a circle to work out how big they wanted the classroom to be and how many willow poles we will need.

The students then measured the circle outside using a stick and string they measured to make the 3m radius of the circular classroom and as we walked the circumference of the circle we dropped lime on the ground to outline our space. We used metre rules and a trundle wheel to check our calculations. We then had 40 helpers who put the willow poles in place.

As you can see, everyone worked really hard get the classroom up in a day.  The willow poles should start to fill out in a few weeks to create the feel of an outdoor room.

While this was happening, Yotam was given a tour of the food forest garden by teacher Julie Jones and the enviro-schools students. Yotam advised on how to suppress weeds, eradicate grass and where to plant understory plants. He then led the planting of strawberries showing how to divide and create new plants and donated rosemary and lavender from Emilie's garden.

Yotam worked with a group of captivated students on permaculture design.  They walked to the back field and talked about important things to consider when designing a farm.  Yotam had lots of fantastic tips  that got us thinking about zoning, prevailing winds,  making use of what we have (shelter), access, drainage, etc etc etc!  We will put his ideas to work over the next few weeks.


We had a fun and productive day.  Many thanks to Yotam Kay for sharing his expertise with us.