Fruit Tree Grafting Workshop 2017

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Learn to graft your own fruit trees. Grafting young, and reworking old trees covered in this workshop. You will take home two grafted trees and some fine whittling skills! A good knife is key, let us know if you would like to purchase a grafting knife, I hope to be able to supply them for less than $40 each.

Workshop is 1-4:30pm, 3rd Sept, Waitati, Otago.

Habitate Grafting Workshop 2017

2017 Fruit Tree Training Workshop

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Fruit Trees Training Workshop

Waitati, 23rd July 2017

Hope to see you there!

Anyone on Otago Peninsula keen? We are running the same workshop this sunday 16/7/17 on Allan’s Beach Road, get in touch with Jenny at 021772295, if you are interested
Fruit Trees Training Workshop

Habitate Nursery & Taste Nature Gardens Open Day 2017

Monday, March 6th, 2017

We hope that you can come to our open day, tour our nursery and Taste Nature Gardens, taste some apples and apple juice straight from the press and share in a potluck picnic.

Habitate Nursery & Taste Nature Gardens Open Day 2017

Sunday 19th March 1-4pm

Behind the old general store 36 Harvey Street, Waitati.

Tours at 1.30pm

Apple Tasting Table at 2.15pm

Potluck Picnic

Taste Nature Gardens are a beautiful and diverse organic market garden, supplying Taste Nature – Dunedin’s organic shop

Habitate Nursery Catalogue Release for Habitate Nursery: A mail order nursery supplying quality organically grown frtuit trees and berry bushes – tasty, easy to grow varieties for home orchards


share this event with friends:

See you there, Jason

Habitate Nursery & Taste Nature Gardens Open Day 2017

Small Scale Chicken Workshop

Monday, September 12th, 2016

permaculture chicken workshopSunday 16th October

10-3pm Waitati

This workshop is hosted by Otago Organics and will be tutored by Nick Holmes and Jason Ross

Learn from two established and unique chicken designs; a home flock ranging a quarter

acre berry garden and orchard, and a farm flock rotating with in a small-scale organic

market garden and orchard.

$50 ($45 Otago Organics Associate Members).

Pot luck lunch.

To book or find out about other great events run by Otago Organics email Rayna

or call ormtext0275323236



2016 Fruit Tree Grafting Workshop

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Fruit Tree Grafting Workshopfruit tree

learn how to graft your own fruit trees
how to graft new trees and old trees

you will receive:
one apple tree rootstock (m106 or m26)
bag and saw dust for packing of rootstock
grafting tape
a choice of a large range of
apple tree cuttings to graft with
(delicious,disease resistant heritage varieties)
you can bring your own cuttings to work with
(instructions provided on registration)


1-4:30pm 4th Sept 2016
hot tea provided

tutor : jason ross :
$50 + bookings essential – additional rootstock $10
or leave a msg & email address at: 4822625

bring: warm clothes, gloves
very sharp flat bladed knife
sequateurs,loppers, saw
apple tree cuttings to graft (optional)


2016 Fruit Tree Training & Pruning Workshop

Monday, July 25th, 2016

2016 Fruit tree training workshopfruit tree

pruning, planting & care

maximise crops & minimise work
by training tree branches
to horizontal
a range of fruit trees
and berry fruits covered
young and old trees

demonstration and hands on learning
+ theory for beginners


1-4:30pm 7th August 2016
hot tea provided

tutor : jason ross :
$50 + bookings essential
or leave a msg & email address at: 4822625

bring: warm clothes, gloves
sequateurs,loppers, saw








Habitate Nursery & Taste Nature Gardens Open Day 2016

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Habitate Nursery & Taste Nature Gardens Open Day 2016We warmly invite you to our annual nursery open day, this year its combined with Taste Nature Gardens (

Bring a blanket and soak up the goodness of this diverse and beautiful productive permaculture property.

Dont miss the fruit tastings of heritatge fruits and our 2016 catalogue release.

Fruit Tree Training & Pruning Workshop 2015

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Fruit Tree Training & Pruning Workshop 2015

fruit tree


pruning, planting & care


maximise crops & minimise work by training

tree branches to horizontal

a range of fruit trees

and berry fruits covered

young and old trees

demonstration and hands on learning

+ theory for beginners


1-4:30pm 9th August 2015

hot tea provided

16th if raining on 9th

tutor : jason ross of

$50 + bookings essential


or leave a msg & email address at: 4822625

bring: warm clothes, gloves

sequateurs,loppers, saw

Human Nature Food Systems Design – Stefan Sobkowiak Workshops

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

In this article I reflect on the Beyond Organic Tour workshops we hosted in April 2015. These were led by Stefan Sobkowiak of Miracle Farms, and covered the principles and concepts used in his Permaculture Orchard.

Reflecting on Stefan Sobkowiak’s workshops in April this year.

It was a great pleasure to host Stefan at Habitate Farm for a workshop on fruit tree training and soils. Thanks to all involved for organising the tour and hosting Stefan, Doreen and James here in Dunedin.

IMG_0970When you are busy on the land it’s a welcome inspiration to have a teacher such as Stefan come and reinforce the principles of permaculture through workshops in your bioregion.

We need well documented examples of permaculture systems and The Permaculture Orchard is probably the best film documenting a commercial permaculture orchard.

Stefan has set up and runs an orchard that produces a quality food for a sizeable customer base.

His customers join as members, then enjoy visiting this beautiful farm, meeting each other and browsing the aisles (rows) to gather food (his is a members-only U-Pick Farm).

For me permaculture is as much about making beautiful inspiring places as it is about the quantity of food produced, so this aspect of his farm was great to see. Flowers are grown, for example, in amongst the productive plants and offered free for customers to pick, adding further delight to the diversity of edibles in each row.

What has made Stefan’s farm successful?

I would say systems design. The basis of permaculture is the conscious design of systems which overlap to form a constructed ecosystem inspired by observed natural ecologies. Stefan has clear, explainable system patterns, that allow for patterned replication and expansion across the farm. Examples are the Nitrogen Fixer-Apple-Pear/Plum trio’s, the ripening-time ordered rows, the tree to shrub to perennial planting patterns, the animal rotations through the rows, the mowing patterns and many more.

One of the great achievements is to have taken the benefits of a forest ecology (layers, diversity, predator / beneficial insect and bird habitat, pioneer / support species) and to have patterned them into a system of rows, allowing for ease of management and customer U-pick harvest (the needs of human nature).

The mulch layer

Looking to the mulch layer we find the key to what has allowed all of this to happen with minimal maintenance. A plastic mulch. A simple logical solution and yet so mind-bendingly hard to come to grips with for those of us that associate plastic with environmental degradation.

In Stefan’s system it is allowing large scale diversity and production. Stefan’s is a commercial operation,with irrigation, posts, wires and overhead sprinklers for frost fighting, there is a lot of infrastructure there, why not add a layer of plastic and be rid of untold hours of weeding and instead use that energy for establishing and harvesting the diverse and abundant produce?

There may be some good reasons. I am sceptical as to whether this system would work as well in a coastal New Zealand climate where grass and other weeds grow all year round. So many books and now movies on permaculture are from either sub-tropical or continental climates, we have to take the principles of these ideas and examples and not necessarily the techniques. I hope someone, (including myself), tests this plastic system in a coastal New Zealand climate. Unfortunately I have seen too many examples over the years of plastic or weed mat put down permanently on the ground only to be overrun with grass and buried, and then the weeds we are trying to avoid, grow back on top. I have had to remove plastic layers buried amongst ornamental gardens, tangled with roots. It’s a difficult, destructive job.

Stefan has observed worms moving organic matter through holes to underneath his plastic. In local ornamental examples that I have seen this has not happened fast enough, the garden looks brilliant for the first ten years and then plants start to decline, the soil below the plastic layer is starving for organic matter from above.

In this, his latest video, Stefan shows the difference in growth rate where plastic was not used, no competition does make a huge difference.

An alternate system that we are using for orchard/food forest establishment is based on Martin Crawford’s system of using woven weed mat.

We put a strip of weed mat each side of a newly planted row for one or two years and then lift it and immediately plant heavily with carefully chosen varieties. The weed mat if carefully moved can be used again and again to kick start more orchard / food forest rows – perhaps a useful system up to a small commercial scale.

We have a side by side trial with a row that has support species planted and is minimally weeded and only roughly mulched. Growth in the weed matted row is at least thirty percent more after the first year.

Because of our non-stop grass growth the use of animal grazing as the primary understory layer of production has strong appeal. This limits under tree diversity but gives us important animal yields.

Training vs Pruning

I am sold on the tree training techniques that Stefan introduced us to. They are brilliantly systematic and solve many of the issues that I have had with trying to combine heading back of branches and only half training branches down. I look forward to trialling these on new trees and renovating old trees to this system.

Stefan talked a lot about autumn tree planting for good establishment of trees. This year through my nursery I am offering an earlier delivery of our certified organic bare root fruit trees (the end of June) and several customers from Stefan’s workshop have requested this. Hopefully the apple trees believe that autumn is here by then as they are still in full green leaf as I write in mid-May.

I have always pruned back my nursery trees before delivery to around one metre so that they grow strongly and branch low for my home gardener customers. I will leave them un-pruned for anyone wanting to use Stefan’s training system, if so I think you need to ensure little competition, good fertility and consistent moisture to achieve the growth and branching required. Growing Fruit Trees: Novel Concepts and Practices for Successful Care and Management covers the techniques Stefan described.

I look forward to many more well documented evolutions towards our shared vision of beautiful, diverse, productive, perennial polycultures.

Jason Ross


Link to the article on the Beyond Organic NZ Tour Website:

Human Nature Food Systems Design

Beyond Organic – Stefan Sobkowiak Workshops – Habitate Farm April 1st

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Beyond Organics Tour

Internationally recognised speaker and orchardist Stefan Sobkowiak is visiting New Zealand from Canada.

An extensive calendar of 20 events has been created, from Northland to Central Otago.

Twenty years ago Stefan bought a conventional Apple orchard outside of Quebec and over the next few years converted it to organics. Seven years ago he re-designed the orchard using permaculture principles while maintaining the commercial focus.  Many people are experimenting with permaculture but Stefan is one of the few who is earning his living from a permaculture property. Last year a feature length documentary “The Permaculture Orchard” was released about Stefan and his orchard, Miracle Farms.

From March 11th to April 5th 2015 he is travelling from Northland to Central Otago leading a series of talks and workshops as part of the Beyond Organic NZ Tour. This is an opportunity to learn how these productive, profitable, permaculture-inspired practices work.

To book / register please go to calendar of 20 events

Food Forest Workshop

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Food forest workshop December 2013 at the Bathgate Park Community Gardens, South Dunedin.

It will be an inspiring and practical workshop, you will learn about local food forests and practice food forest design on the site of the future community food forest.

Future workshops or working bees will cover planting and soil management strategies.

Peta Hudson and I are facilitating and it is being run by the great people Grow South who have got this community garden off the ground

I hope to see you there! contact to register


Food Forest Workshop

Permaculture Food Forests Talk

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

A talk by Jason Ross at the July Permaculture Dunedin Meeting – All Welcome
Permaculture Dunedin holds monthy meetings with stimulating and inspiring talks on all things Permaculture.

17th July 2013

Meeting starts at 5.30pm at THE APARTMENT upstairs from The Malcalm Trust, 174 Princes Street (enter “The Apartment” from Dowling Street).

Jason Ross – Owner / Operator of Sutherland Nursery and Edible Garden Design, based in Waitati. Works with Waitati Stores, growing vegetables, herbs and fruit for Taste Nature, Dunedin’s Organic Shop.

Forests and woodlands provide great inspiration in their diversity, resilience, self perpetuation and beauty. Can we use a forest model to inspire design for integrated edible and useful gardens and landscapes? I have been inspired by this question for the last ten years. In this talk I will outline some key aspects of temperate food forest design and thinking.
Inline image 1


All meetings start at 5.30pm at THE APARTMENT upstairs from The Malcalm Trust, 174 Princes Street (enter “The Apartment” from Dowling Street).

17th July,

28th August,

25th Sept,

23rd Oct

Fruit tree grafting workshop – September 2013

Monday, May 6th, 2013

fruit tree graftingFruit tree grafting workshop with Jason Ross, Sutherland Nursery

Would you like to learn how to graft a fruit tree (apple or pear) at a hands on workshop?

The workshop is planned for Sunday Sept 1st – 2013 –  from 1-4pm.

Prior to the workshop, participants will receive instructions on how to take cuttings suitable for
grafting. The cuttings need to be taken at the beginning of July, when the trees are fully dormant.

If you don’t have a favourite fruit tree to take cuttings, we may be able to help. During the recent
community fruit harvest, we identified some trees with delicious fruit that appear to do very well in
our area, which we would like to graft.

The cost of the workshop is $30 to graft an apple or $40 for a pear. This covers the cost of rootstock,
potting mix, demonstration and tuition from Jason, and venue hire. If you’d really like to come, but
the cost is a barrier, let me know and we will try to sort out something. Venue will be confirmed
once we know we have viable numbers.

Please register by 10 June, supplying the information below to Kristen Bracey (North East Valley Transition Towns 473).
Her contact details are:

473 9535 or 027 779 5481

Payment is required in
advance. Places are limited so register as soon as possible.




Will you bring own cutting (therefore which rootstock do you require)?

Yes Type:


Type of cutting you would like supplied: (apple or pear)

Would you like to graft more than one tree? Extra rootstock are $10 per extra apple rootstock (please choose dwarf or standard size) and $20 per pear rootstock. Please include this in your registration payment as we need to order the rootstock.

Food Forest Workshop in Waitati – November 2013

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Would you like to learn about growing a whole woodland type ecosystem entirely with edible and useful plants? Come along to find out how to grow a diversity of crops together, supporting each other making for a low maintenance food system and an adventure into growing closely with nature.

I will be co-tutoring and bringing local info on what species and guilds work here in coastal Otago.

Dunedin Local Food Forum

Friday, October 26th, 2012

I will be attending, I am looking foward to hearing about food growing projects in Otago, with the goal of networking for further growth! I will talk on Coastal Otago Fruit growing success stories.