gardens should capture the
beauty of nature around us,
be timeless in their application
and help us feel rejuvenated
and relaxed


Studying organic horticulture and managing a biodynamic market garden has given me considerable insight into productive landscapes. I have learnt valuable techniques for managing productive landscapes in an efficient way.

My experience with permaculture has added to this. Coined by Aussies Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970’s, permaculture it is an approach to designing human settlements, particularly perennial agriculture (from which the word comes), that mimic the structure and inter-relationship found in natural ecologies.

Reasons why people may want or need an organic or permaculture consultancy:

  • To reduce workload, particularly on lifestyle blocks. Permaculture design reduces workload by mimicking natural systems.
  • Using Permaculture principles as a design and management tool to halve
    the work you do
  • To save money. Successful permaculture properties operate as a closed loop, requiring few products to be bought in.
  • To provide resilience from natural disasters. Permaculture landscapes mitigate against flood events, resist the effects of drought, provide food security, enhance habitat for animals /birds / insects, process their own waste (turning it into a valuable resource), and provide fuel in winter (woodlots).
  • To reduce exposure to chemicals in the environment. Permaculture and organics go hand in hand - an organically managed property will be free from the potential harmful effects of chemical pesticides and fungicides.

PROJECT GALLERY- click to enlarge images

NOTE: Many of my designed landscapes have elements of Permaculture woven through them. This is especially true of the Lifestyle Block work. The images you see below are design projects that are more exclusively Permaculture based.

design and planning pageorganics permaculturetalk and workshops page
Kelmarna City Farm, Grey Lynn, Auckland
Kelmarna City Farm
Kelmarna City Farm
Kelmarna City Farm
Spring festival Kelmarna City Farm
compost bins Kelmarna City Farm
compost bins Kelmarna City Farm


Kelmarna Gardens is a city farm and
organic community garden in Auckland
dedicated to building a healthy community
and environment and promoting
sustainable living.

It is situated on 4.5 acres of council land
in Grey Lynn, close to the heart of the city.  
On its north-facing slopes are a food forest,
bee hives, vegetable plots, a worm farm,
hens, a Welsh pony and grazing livestock.
Carl Pickens has been engaged to work
with the Kelmarna Gardens trust to design
a Redevelopment Plan for the farm. With
the Redevelopment Plan now in place
attention has shifted to commencing
building work - sometime in late 2016.
All construction work at Kelmarna Gardens
has been carried out by Carl Pickens and
his team.

Moorea Tahiti Permaculture Plan
governors bay garden 1
g.bay garden 3
g.b garden 4


Carl Pickens travelled to Tahiti in 2016 to
design a 2 acre rainforest edge property on
the nearby island of Moorea. The design
process involved info gathering trips to
local market gardens and permaculture
farms - notably Araka farm on the main
Island of Tahiti, where traditional farming
practices see vegetable and tree crops
grown in close association with nitrogen
fixing species (photos attached). This is a
technique we have repeated and
emphasised in Clauds design on Moorea.

The Waihi Academy of StudiesWaihi Green Tea and Berry Garden
governors bay garden 1
g.bay garden 3
g.b garden 4


Green tea and berry plantings were
carried out in August 2014 adjacent
to the existing food forest. The layout
of this garden has been established
as a series of radiating circles, with
occasional gaps between plants so
the whole structure acts as a kind
of ‘maze’.

The Waihi Academy of Studies
Waihi Academy 2
g.bay garden 3
Waihi Academy 2
g.bay garden 3


The Waihi Academy of Studies has plans to
develop niche organic horticultural enterprises
on its land near Waihi on the southern
Coromandel Coast. Carl is working with Daniel
Tohill and others to develop a Food Forest on
5 acres, with Planting due to begin in winter

Food Forest Workshop
g.bay garden 3


Carl Pickens with assistance from Judy
Keats held a one day Food Forest and
Organic Orcharding workshop in 2016
at his property in Otamatea Ecovillage,
Kaiwaka. Topics covered included food
forest establishment and maintenance,
fruit tree planting, pest management in
the orchard, and organic composting.

Seven Oaks School, Canterbury


Seven Oaks School in Canterbury is Planning
a new School in Halswell. The new grounds
will include 3 temperate food forests, orchards,
organic growing areas, age specific play
gardens, an amphitheatre, chickens, a recycling
station, bike tracks, and areas for wild nature.
Seven Oaks School is passionate about children
learning through interaction with nature.
Construction has not yet started.

Port Chalmers Community Garden, Dunedin
governors bay garden 1
g.bay garden 3
g.b garden 4


On a trip to Dunedin I met with a group of
people hoping to set up a Community Garden
in Port Chalmers. They needed a design they
could take to Council to secure lease for the
land. This is where I stepped in. I worked
with the group to produce a Concept that
integrated permaculture principles, and
created large food growing and composting
areas as well as gathering places for
community meetings. Here is what Nicola
Bould, Community Garden Co-ordinator
had to say about the Plan:
"Carl's gorgeous design for our community
garden was inspiring, and just the ticket for
securing the lease of the land from the city
council. Carl himself was wonderful to work
with, he listened to our wants and needs and
suggested ways of achieving them"

Edgeware Community Garden, Christchurch


I worked with a local group of Edgeware
residents to create this Concept for a
Community Garden adjacent to the old
Edgeware pool site in Christchurch.
Negotiating obstacles like maintaining
vehicle access and keeping clear of large
Council well-heads on site, I managed to
create a design that fitted the site perfectly.
In fact in this instance I felt the land itself
suggest very clearly the way in which the
garden should be laid out. As part of the
design we created space for a 'reconciliation'
garden, where the past conflict associated
with the site (there were battles fought over
trying to keep the pool open) could be
recognised and healed.

Wakamarina Valley Permaculture Design, Tasman
g.bay garden 3
g.b garden 4


Auckland based clients that were seeking a
permaculture inspired design for their 10
acre block near nelson. Delighted with the
result (we love it!) they pushed on
establish-ing native shelterbelts for shelter
and privacy, using plants I specified in a
subsequent Planting Plan. The earthouse,
food forest, orchard, chook run and
intensive food gardens are still to come.

New Brighton Edible Garden, Christchurch


This garden combines contemporary
courtyards and exterior living spaces with
an edible garden at the rear of the property.
Details include vegetable gardens, an
integrated chook run and orchard area,
composting and worm farms, and an
outdoor spa. Implementation is continuing
through 2014.

Heathcote Edible Garden, Christchurch


This edible garden concept was completed
for a Maori elder, hence the koru motif
evident in the raised vegetable beds. Details
include vegetable beds, a glasshouse, a rain
garden, and an outdoor bath.
Implementation has been slow due to the
effect of the Canterbury earthquakes.


To read more about Carl's various areas of design, and to view his PROJECT GALLERIES click the links below...

Lifestyle blocks and City Gardens Parks, Schools, Subdivisions

Landscape and Visual assessment Organics permaculture