News and Events

Introduction to Permaculture Workshop

On Saturday 19 January 2019 we had our first workshop of the year. Geoff Dembo presented “Introduction to Permaculture” to the 9 participants. The morning featured a slide presentation and discussion explaining the key concepts of Permaculture or “Permanent Agriculture” including the concepts of diversity, sustainability, plants and animals, community and conservation. After morning tea a more in depth discussion on site design, including needs and yields analysis and zoning (arranging all the elements of a system by the level of care needed and their interrelations). After a shared lunch we all set off to visit Lesley and Martin Catterals property in Otatara where all the things discussed in the morning were looked at in practice along with the aspirations of the landowners. It is fair to say the donkeys stole the show! After a walk around their property further discussion on design ideas took place in the Education Centre. Although the weather was less than ideal it was a great day.

We will definitely hold more permaculture workshops in future so if you missed out this time and are interested, email Chris.


Southland Community Nursery Open Friday 11 January 2019

The Community Nursery will be open on Friday 11 January 2019 for volunteers. Lots of watering has been done over the Christmas break and consequently lots of weeds are growing!! Lots of jobs from potting to weeding to seed collecting to seed sorting, to track maintenance.

It seems that the seeding period is upon us too! Natives flowering in spring are now making seeds so keep a lookout on your travels. On our property we have already collected Clematis, red tussock, toe toe, tree daisy and some Coprosma berries (and many more to be done). If you want to check out when seeds are usually collected follow this link – you will see that seeding seems to be early this year.

There are lots of plants in the nursery ready for planting ($5 a plant for PB3 size). In Southland we are lucky that planting can be done most of the time except for winter as we are usually ensured enough rain! If you are not ready to plant then prepare the ground and get the plants in this season.

We also have some exciting workshops planned already in 2019. Although mostly booked up if you express interest we can arrange an other workshop later in the year. Also if you have an idea for running a workshop, our Education Centre space makes an excellent venue.

Happy 2019


Christmas Break Up – Friday 21 December 2018

Last Nursery Day of 2018 will be Friday 21st December. There will be lots of fun, a bit of work, and lots of nice food – please bring a plate of food to share.

Hope to see you there but otherwise wishing everyone a great Christmas with family and friends and lots of holiday time in the great outdoors. Enjoy the abundance of your garden, natures treasures (like the fernbird on our fruitcage! Or the kereru eating our cherries!) and good company. Take a break from the worries of the world – they will still be there next year! There will also be the good things to look forward to in 2019! (like seed collecting and the Permaculture and Native Plant workshops in January – Bookings and more details at

Thanks to everyone who has helped out in the Nursery and Education Centre this year – we couldn’t do any of it without you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Chris and Brian and the Community Nursery team.

Otatara School Go Wild – 11 December 2018

It was an end of year, end of school, trip to the Community Nursery for 50 Otatara Schoolchildren recently! Next stop, Secondary school! Bronwyn and I waited with anticipation as the 50 (plus helpers and teachers) biked into view and the Community Nursery carpark became a bike park!

It took a while for everyone to arrive as they had biked from the school, to the Sandy Point mountain bike track and then back to the Nursery. We expected them to be exhausted but they still seemed to be able to summon the energy to race around the pattern in the paddock before a little “work”. They had come to help out and one group did some planting, whilst the other did trackwork, then a bush walk and joined the planting group to help put in more plants. Then, it was off down the road again for the ride back to school!


Southland Community Nursery Education Centre 5th Birthday Party – Sunday 2 December 2018

For once the weather really came to the party! This time we were sheltering from the sun in the Nature Centre rather than from the rain! Sixty-five people came and helped us celebrate our special birthday. There were tours of the restoration area bush tracks, activities for children centred around natural materials – boat building, flax weaving, wreath making, stone painting and later kite flying!

In the Centre there was lots of discussion and networking, renewing of friendships and making new friends.

Honorlea was doing a roaring trade with her Kakariki Natural Body Products and Rob Tipa was showing his book “Treasures of Tane” and taking names for a workshop he will run at the Education Centre on Saturday 26 January 2019.

Geoff was helping on the native plant sales table while Lesley was on the raffle and selling Heritage Tomatoes!

At around 3pm MC Mark Oster shepherded everyone into the Nature Centre where Chris said a few words and thanked some of the people who had been significant contributors to the success of the centre and nursery. Those people were recipients of the “Treasures of Tane” Book, courtesy of the Nursery Trust.

  • Brian – the support and inspiration for the whole venture (and the love of my life of course)
  • Bronwyn, who had helped with nearly all of the 5000 or so schoolchildren who had attended over the past 5 years.
  • Linda and Ray who’s ongoing support for the Nursery had meant it was in very good hands even while I was away overseas for a few months this year (and other years!).
  • Dawn Patterson and Maggie Elford - our longest serving volunteers at the Nursery
  • Honorlea Mangion and Lesley Catterall - most enthusiastic newcomers!
  • Mark Oster - my education mentor, inspiration and all round good bloke!

Mark then got his own back by praising the Community Nursery and Education Centre project’s success and their “can do” attitude of just getting on with it. He encouraged others to do the same and wished the Nursery well for the next 5 years!

Then Bronwyn, Brian and I “cut the cake” (another fabulous Bronwyn creation) and we all tucked into the wonderful food people had brought along followed by more boat building, kite flying in the paddock pattern (which is in the shape of a 5!), reminiscing, chatting and looking forward to the future.

It was a great day of celebration, thanks to everyone who attended.