I’m writing this while still sick. I can’t say much about Kumeu beyond the garden and my host’s home because I haven’t been well enough to explore yet. What I can say is that Lyn is a kind older lady who maintains about one ha. of garden including a greenhouse, exposed raised beds, and a kiwi orchard. This location is a return to my original plan. Both Waipu and Rotorua were spur of the moment work agreements to fill time when a host I had made a work agreement with was suddenly on vacation.
Here are a few pictures of the garden. I got to move to the private sunny room in preparation for two German wwoofers who will arrive tomorrow. There was an English wwoofer in her late sixties previously in my current room. She was cool, a little judgemental of Lyn, which made me grouchy. But it was easy to get her to laugh.
More news on Kumeu to come in the next few days…
Ok, I’m bored and sick. So here are some cool resources:
Maori Dictionary- this functions as an English to Maori Dictionary, an encyclopedia, and a cultural reference
A cool history of dining out in New Zealand
Return to blogging after recovering and more travel:
Hi all, I’ve recently traveled on from Kumeu to New Plymouth. But I want to add some reflections on my previous WWOOFing city, work, and host.
Lyn runs about four acres of organic garden. There are ten raised beds for strawberries and lettuce, some of them covered with plastic to protect from weeds and somewhat from frost. There is one greenhouse made of plastic sheeting, metal frame, and wood support beams. She starts her new seedlings in the greenhouse, and grows kale, more lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, and a good number of crops that I don’t get to see because of the season. There is another greenhouse, they are both about 100 feet long and twenty feet wide, that is in great need of repair. She also has a kiwi orchard, half of which is empty.
Organic growing on a low income means very low productivity in winter. If Lyn had the money, she would install heating units in her greenhouse, and repair her other greenhouse to do the same. Because of low winter production, Lyn “goes backward” every year between growing seasons.
Lyn has told me so many times that compost is the heart of organic gardening. Though she has a bit of a different process than I would expect. Most people burn their weeds to help eliminate the seeds from the garden, though she chooses to compost even the buttercups. These flowers are pretty, but dominate quickly and are time consuming to pull the entire root system.
One of the major problems she has had with her land is arsenic poison in a half acre of land that she now has to keep fallow. When she needed to rebuild her kiwi support frames, the company she hired made a requirement to use a particular kind of wood that is chemically treated. A year later, soil tests showed an illegal level of arsenic in her soil and she had to stop production on that area. This is extremely unfortunate, partly for her income, and partly for the rare quality and depth of top soil on her land.
In my time watching the news with Lyn at dinner time, I learned a little about life in Auckland (Kumeu is a suburb of Auckland). Their homelessness is becoming a larger problem every year, because of the government’s slowing work on state housing. State houses are built and renovated for low income families to live in until they can afford their own mortgage. Unfortunately, the government has turned this construction over to for profit companies who are prioritizing their high income projects, and in some cases, turning state homes over for profit.
The problem of homelessness is also exacerbated with a rising number of immigrants to the city. This population is primarily wealthy Chinese and Japanese. In response, the majority of racial slurs are directed toward these immigrants. But everyone is different in their response. Some Kiwis respect anyone who is willing to work, while others don’t like their New Zealand culture being disrupted. Regardless of social responses, the housing market has become much more competitive with the influx of people. Homes that were $200,000 five years ago are now $700,000 and rising. The impaction of people has lead the government to pay families and individuals $5,000 to move out of Auckland.
On my way to New Plymouth, I stayed a night in Auckland city centre. The city is so packed with tall buildings, shopping malls, small independent shops, car traffic, foot traffic, and COFFEE shops. So many coffee shops! When you order coffee here, some places have Americanized names for espresso and coffee drinks, but mostly people use New Zealand terms. A house or drip coffee is a long black, and a latte is a flat white. I was so embarrassed trying to explain what I wanted the first time ordering a flat white when I first arrived.
For the evening, I rented a bed in a six bed hostel dorm. I sincerely suggest forking out the $100 for a private room if possible. People walk in and out turning lights on and off, all while talking until around 11 at night. I really wanted some privacy, but could find none and was super perturbed. Thankfully, I have a private room with a view all to myself at my new WWOOFing location!
Ok, that’s all for now.
The big things on the news now are Brexit, the Promenade killing in France, police murders and murdered in the U.S., and the U.S. presidential election. So the saying goes, no news is good news. I am not sure what to say about the U.S. murders, as it is not my place to comment, regardless of my own sadness about the deaths. Instead, I’ll contribute as Dan Savage did, that we should turn our attention to black voices and centralize our focus on black experiences.