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Gisborne Montessori School

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The Site[edit]

Approx 10 acres - 350m x 150m.

Very exposed, originally grazing paddock. Heavy clay soil. Heavy winter rainfalls create bog conditions over much of the site. Summer drought with periods of extreme temperature >40 degrees C. Past 7 years extreme drought in both winter and summer.

Severe wind conditions for extended periods over much of the year - wind blows down from Mt Macedon (N/NW - Fire Zone) and rushes over the plains. Originally called The Poverty Plains due to the lack of soil fertility.

Vegetation: onion weed/grass and sheep sorrel predominant and extremely aggressive.

Contour - gentle slope from South to North West provides good drainage for the Southern side of the site. Can get extremely boggy on Northern side, particularly NE from watertanks north/north east.

Permaculture Plan[edit]

Although this plan is being implemented as designed I am interested in comments (this is an update of the original - management required some sites, such as the rainforest, to be moved from the desired location in the northern sector).

Site water management is being handled by management, a consultant and the earthmoving team.

Progress To Date[edit]

Buildings - Pod 1 and 2 exist currently. Pod 2 completed June 2007. Pod 3 construction due to start in early 2008.

This is our third year on the site and grounds development (permaculture plan implementation) progress was very slow for the first 2 years due to almost all of the work being undertaken and paid for by myself, Linda Shewan. This year I have a team of 10 parents of varying effectiveness, meaning site development has accelerated considerably.


Allo-causarina planting on the southern boundary - complete 2006.

Windbreak plantings on northern boundary - approx. 400 trees planted, mostly completed by early 2007.

Teepee Village created - development partially funded by Government Grant 2005. Gardens watered by drip irrigation on electronic timer. Ongoing maintenance required. Design: Gisborne Montessori School Teepee Village

Teepee Village pallet windbreak - partially completed, hoping to complete by end August 2007.

Wildlife Corridor - planting started, another 1200ish trees to be planted in August 2007.

Wildlife Corridor - understory seedballs being created and dispersed by students in September 2007 (grant received). Will be monitored for effectiveness.

Food Forest - approx a dozen fruit/nut trees planted, some dynamic accumulators (yarrow, tansy, borage) planted. More planting expected in Aug/Sep 2007 and ongoing. Trenches dug 1/2 metre wide and deep and filled with woody material. Will be half filled in and planted both inside and on the berms this spring. Lots of seed dispersed and eaten by birds. Design: GMS Food Forest

Chook Shed - project currently being undertaken by students - will create pages as it develops.

Edible Maze - project currently being undertaken by students. Will develop over the next year or two.

Dam, playing field and access road - grant received for development of playing field requires dam to be dug for fill! Being created as weather permits. Boggy conditions have put on hold.

Rainforest Garden - project currently being undertaken by students. Will develop over the next few years.

Global Forest - parent volunteer has taken on research and planning. Start planned September 2007, fundraising dependent.

Bush Foods Garden - parent volunteer has taken on research and planning. Start planned August/September 2007, fundraising and resources dependent.

Dirt dunes - purely for fun - to be created during dam/access road construction.

Teepee Village[edit]

This garden was created to provide snack food for play breaks, food for the developing kitchen program and provide an engaging environment for the children to spend leisure time.

The Story So Far[edit]

Teepees have been built with surrounding raised bed gardens. A fire in the first year burnt down 2 teepees, one was rebuilt - other now developing cob oven). One surrounding garden has been built and proved effective both as a windbreak for the vine crops and as an additional play attraction for the students. Decision made to create more surrounding gardens this year given time and resources (Spring/Summer 2007).

None of the internal gardens (around pond) have been created yet. Pond has been built.

Some windbreak crops identified as shown in image, it would be preferred to use a different plant for each teepee.

Food Forest[edit]

For each area I will be creating guilds as time permits...

Vegetation prior to 2006 some grass but mainly 'weeds' - predominantly onion weed, sheep sorrel, dock and assorted others.

Area of 35m x 15m (may extend to 40m x 15m) facing north (Holm Oak in NW corner). Very exposed to extremely harsh winter and summer winds. Frosts to -5 celcius.

Food forest to be very densely planted throughout but most obviously on boundaries to provide protection from harsh winter and summer environment. Decision based on research into food forests and Australian gardening guru Jackie French recommendations for 'Planting in Groves'.

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