Pakaraka Permaculture Training Program

We are excited to offer 3 and 9 weeks training programs for aspiring market gardeners and homesteaders. The programs combine practical hands-on learning combined with classes and personal project. During the programs time frame, you will be a part of our farm’s team, working
along side us on the farm, doing what we do. We believe that this integrative style of learning is the ultimate platform to up-skill and empower a new generation of growers. We love what we do, and are excited to share this experience and create programs we would have loved to attend ourselves!

The core aspects of the program are:

Market Gardening
As you will be working in the market garden you will get valuable insights about how our operation functions. During the market gardening workshop, you will get a comprehensive view about how our business functions. As the weeks go by, you will practice and become proficient in all the fundamental aspects of market gardening: bed preparation, plant propagation, transplanting & direct seeding, crop care, weeding, watering, tool maintenance, harvesting a diversity of crops, post harvesting of vegetables, salads and microgreens production. On the first week we will be working together on all aspects of the gardens, and from the second week you will alternate roles - field growing, growing and harvesting microgreens, preparing salads and harvesting field vegetables, supported by our team.

We are passionate about homesteading and sustainable living. We love providing for ourselves from the abundance the farm has to offer. These are some of the things that we will be doing -
Cooking with farm produce, fermenting and preserving, feeding and caring of the chickens and ducks, and opportunities to learn how to milk the house cow.
Depending on the seasonal work available, we will work in the food forest.

Small Scale Farming
Much is involved in operating a small scale diverse organic farm, though the work is very seasonal. During the duration of the program, you will be exposed to farm living, and will be able to participate in farm tasks. Depending on the season the tasks range from fencing, firewood management, moving animals to weed control. Keeping the farm organic involves a lot of labour in weed management, therefore we reserve a morning a week to take care of the land.

Personal Project
During your time here you will be able to choose a personal project related to market gardening and homesteading. This is an opportunity for you to delve deep, to experiment, and follow your passion. Choose from a list of projects we will offer or suggest your own. There is a vast range of learning opportunities to be gained. We will mentor you through design and implementation of your chosen project, on which you will work during designated weekly sessions.


Applications are now closed for the training programs of 2019.

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We will get back to you within 10 day with a reply.  Limited spaces available. Applications will close when all spaces are filled. This is a full-time program, 5 to 6 days a week depending on workshops, so expect to get yourself immersed in the farm. The average week will consist of 4 days of hands on learning on the market garden, half a day of your personal project and half a day of weed management or other important tasks on the farm. We base our work and weekly schedule according to the weather. For example, on hot summer days, we tend to start early, stop for a siesta in midday and continue work in the evening. During Spring and Autumn, we tend to be active from 8 am to 5 pm. 
Workshop Schedule for the 9 weeks training programs:
For Spring/Summer 2019 Program:
21-22/10 Orientation, Basic gardening skills
24/10 (Thursday) Microgreens Workshop
26-27/10 (Saturday & Sunday - Labour weekend) Two Days Market Gardening Workshop
5/11 (Tuesday) Keeping Chickens and Ducks Workshop
16/11 (Saturday) Ferment, Preserve, Pickle Workshop
7/12 (Saturday) Advanced Home Gardening Workshop

We reserve the right to make changes to the workshop schedule. We guarantee that all content will be delivered throughout the program.

While this program is primarily aimed for aspiring small scale market gardeners, it will also be highly beneficial for those who wish to be self-sufficient and grow most of their own food on a small block. We will mostly be working as a group, but we will also split to various tasks and allocate areas of responsibility and care. We  will be accepting passionate individuals who:

1. Are serious about growing food, and are considering a livelihood in growing food for market.
2. Wish to continue their learning about sustainable living and homesteading skills.
3. Are physically fit, emotionally mature, independent, enjoy teamwork, have prior experience working outdoors and love it.
4. Kids friendly (:

We will provide you with mostly local and organic produce. You will be making your own breakfasts, evening dinners and cooking on your days off. Lunch will be provided during the week. Cleaning of your personal & communal living space is your responsibility.
We will gladly pick you up from the bus station in Thames, and welcome you to join us on our trips to town. We still recommend you organise your transport to and from the farm by car or bicycle (we are 7km from Thames town centre). We cannot house pets on the farm.
If you are a family with kids, and are very interested in the program and staying with us, please email us and we can discuss this further.
There is no smoking on the farm, and we ask for responsible consumption of alcohol.
Applicant must have a valid tourist visa, work visa or NZ residence.

Camping area:
Camping will be either under the pecan orchard, besides the river or above the gardens across the gully, depending on the time of year. River facilities include; outside covered kitchen, hot shower, lights & phone charging (that’s new!), and composting toilets. The Facilities above the gardens include a communal 5m bell tent. You will need to provide a tent/caravan/van. We recommend a tent that can handle moderate winds and is big enough to be a comfortable private space for you.
The campsite have mobile reception, and you can charge your laptop at our house, where you can use high-speed WiFi (for all uses except big file downloading). There is also free internet available at the Thames library.
Program fees are $2,850 for the 9 weeks period and include;
Food supplies for the entire program, mostly local and/or organic produce. Lunch will be provided Monday to Friday.
Camping facilities.
Workshops, field training and project mentorship.
We take this training program very seriously, as we open up our lives, livelihoods and skill-sets. You will gain skills that will escort you for the rest of your life. We also understand that not everyone has means to invest this amount in their education. We offer to assist those in need by considering together different options that would aid their payment, such as finding sponsors, opening a give-a-little page, etc.  
On completion of the program of the 9 weeks program, you will receive a certificate of completion 360 hours in organic small-scale farming training. 
We ask for a 50% deposit of the program fees the week after you had been accepted to the program. The remainder 50% program fees should be cleared four weeks before the start of the program unless otherwise agreed.
Deposits can be made to our Co-operative bank account. Account name: N & Y Kay. Account number: 02-1248-0053901-052.
To maker international payments you’ll need this number BKNZNZ22. It’s called a SWIFT, IBAN or BIC code depending on the country it’s coming from. Other details you’ll need: Name of clearing bank: Bank of New Zealand. Physical address of clearing bank: 100 Lambton Quay, Wellington, NZ.
How to apply:
This application is an opportunity, for both you and us, to determine if your expectations and this program are a good match. Please answer the questions below to the best of your abilities, with honesty and clarity. We do not discriminate on any basis.
1. Please tell us briefly about yourself. Hobbies, your favourite food, things you love doing.
2. What interests you about our farm and this program?
3. Have you ever had experience working on a farm? Please describe.
4. How do you see this program assisting you in your personal and professional development?
5. What experience are you bringing to the program, and what practical skills do you hope to acquire?
6. Have you ever worked as part of a group? What were the most challenging things for you when working or living with others?
7. We raise animals for meat on the farm. What is your perspective on the role animals play on a small farm?
8. Do you have any allergies, food restrictions, physical limitations or mental illnesses that might affect your ability to live in a rural setting and do farm work?
9. How would you describe your diet?
10. Will you be able to attend the full duration of the program?
11. What is your favourite vegetable?
Please send us:
1. Completed application form.
2. A picture of you.
3. Ways we can contact you - Email and Mobile Phone (including country code)
4. Which program are you applying to.
To this email address:

Thank you very much for your interest!
And thank you for sharing this information with us, we will not share your application with anyone else. We will get back to you within a few days confirming we have received your application, and get back to you with an answer within 10 days.
Cancellation Policy
In cancellation of up to 60 days before the start of the program, you will get a 100% refund. In cancellation between 30 to 59 day, you will get a 50% refund , under 29 days no refund will be given. 

We reserve the right to terminate participation in the program at any stage, in instants of violent or dangerous behaviour, without a refund.


By Jose Miguel Leon Roda, Peru
"My stay of 10 weeks has been amazing. This place is blessed by nature and the people working for wellbeing and sustainability. I am thankful for have been chosen to be part of the first training program and all the projects done and learnings obtained here. Niva and Yotam have developed
a remarkable organic market garden from scratch and are succeeding for following their strong ideals, dreams and principles while raising their two lovely girls, Dina and Lily, which is a show of non-stop hard work. Jeanette and Harry are an example of perseverance and fighters,  defending the native bush and other environmental causes throughout the  years. I won’t forget Luna, the lovely and best Kelpie ever! Beside everything done and learned here, I also found my family in New Zealand.
They represent very good friends and professionals over whom I can rely and count with. I’m sure that they will continue to achieve their dreams and make true all the plans they got for the future. Please
continue with all that energy and positive vibe that characterize you and Pakaraka. You rock!!!


By Adrienne Gordon
I'm incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to study and live at Pakaraka Farm. Throughout the 10 week course I was both challenged and supported, allowing me to gain the confidence and skills needed to be a market gardener.
Yotam's drive, positivity and enthusiasm and Niva's admirable ethics combine to create an impressive and successful lifestyle and business. It's brilliant to see people not only growing organic food, but also consuming only organic and local or fair-trade food.
As well as teaching the skills needed to grow, care for and harvest all the crops in the garden, Yotam consulted us about development decisions, encouraging problem solving and meaning our work had a lasting impact on the farm. I enjoyed the culture of communication and of continuous learning, with feedback encouraged at the end of each week and an extensive library on market gardening books
that I wish I'd read more of! The land itself is beautiful, tranquil and engaging, with a stunning swimming spot and hike up the hill. It's inspiring to hear Harry and Jeanette's approach to
developing the land, allowing a large percentage to regenerate as native bush and working tirelessly for over 20 years to create a home that is focused on community and self sufficiency. Working with them gave us a more holistic view of organic farm management and the benefit of their years of experience living a low impact lifestyle. I leave this farm a much happier, nourished and enthusiastic person with the skills to do the thing that I love and that means the world to me. Thanks so much everyone at Pakaraka Farm.


By Lauren Beresh
I am so grateful to have been part of the training program at Pakaraka 2018. The program is an amazing learning experience that covered all areas of small scale farming and self sufficiency in both theory and practical skills. I learned that a lifestyle in farming is challenging but most importantly is that it's achievable and incredibly rewarding. The internship provided a solid foundation of the day to day operations of organic market garden and facilitated a really positive learning feedback. Yotam and Niva are wonderful educators and share their lives and abundant passion for gardening and I highly recommend the course foranyone who is interested in growing food for themselves or community or
simply want to make a positive change in the world.


By Justine Mazereeuw
Merci beaucoup Pakaraka! Thank you Niva, Jeanette, Yotam, Harry, Lily and Dina for this incredible
permaculture and human adventure. I really shared and enjoyed the strong values of permaculture and the learning of life with nature in a community way of life. Leaving France to take this training program was a great experience full of discoveries and magical meetings.
This program made by Niva and Yotam is an excellent training for anyone who wants to get a market garden, or work in permaculture farm structures. They are excellent teachers and pedagogues, sharing their passion with solid knowledge, experience and great patience. The welcome is extremely family friendly. Niva and Yotam are relying heavily on feedbacks to always improve their educational programs. Jeanette and Harry are great examples of grandparents struggling to leave a better
world for their grandchildren, available, full of tips, methods and exciting stories to tell.
I really enjoyed the life on the campsite, with the bonus of delicious meals from Yotam! To complete
this program, the living environment of the farm is exceptional: a true magical landscape, with a beautiful river where to swim on hot days. I highly recommend this training program in permaculture, extremely rewarding, which I would apply again without hesitation!


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