Organic Gardening with the Soil Food Web

Learn about the soil food web and how it works to deliver plants with nutrients. In this 2-day workshop, we will cover many topics that will help you get started to grow amazing food.

This workshop is for beginners as well as advanced gardeners, lifestyle block owners and farmers interested in organics and thinking about converting from conventional farming to organic agriculture.


  • Brand: KoruKai Natural Herbal Products

$ 180.00


Date: 23rd and 24th May 2020

Time: 10am - 3pm on both days

Location: KoruKai Herb Farm, Banks Peninsula

When signing up you automatically agree to the Terms and Conditions (see below).

Day 1: Saturday 23rd May 2020
On the first day you will learn about the Soil Food Web and its members. We will discuss its functions and what disrups it. You will learn about plant succession, nutrient pools in soils, nutrient cycling with the soil food web, the nitrogen cycle and the food exchange by plants and the soil food web.
Then we will go into soil assessment, starting a garden from scratch, mulching, integrated pest and disease management, worm farming and bokashi composting.

Day 2: Sunday 24th May 2020
The second day is very practical and hands-on. We will build a thermal compost pile in the morning. We will discuss suitable material for the compost, the carbon/nitrogen ratio, how to select for bacterial or fungal dominance, temperature development in the pile and the cooling down phase. We will then make a compost extract and an aerated compost tea for foliar sprays and soil amendments.

Topics covered:

-       Basic principles of organic gardening: soil health and fertility
-       The Soil Food Web and its functions
-       Properties of soil, soil assessment, soil tests, food for the soil food web and your plants
-       Starting a garden from scratch
-       Plant succession and why this is important for our crops
-       Nutrient pools in soils and nutrient cycling
-       Nutrient density in plants and the importance for our health and wellbeing
-       Integrated pest and disease management
-       Worm farming and Bokashi composting

-       Thermal compost: materials, temperature, process
-       Signs of a good compost
-       Compost extract and aerated compost tea

This workshop is for beginners as well as advanced gardeners, lifestyle block owners and farmers intersted in organics and thinking about converting from conventional faming to organic agriculture.

There are accommodation options right in Pigeon Bay and in Akaroa (only 30 minutes by car).


Our mission is to spread organic gardening and give people the confidence and knowledge base to grow nutrient dense food in their own backyard: spray-free, organic and nutrient dense.
We are offering one space for our organic gardening workshop to a member of a community garden for free, so that this person is then able to share the knowledge with others from their community.

Please download and fill in the application form from the bottom of this page and we will choose one person from all the entries that come in.
Applications close on 30th April, 12 noon

Tutor: Cornelia Holten
MEd (Integrative Learning), Certificate in Organic Horticulture, Herbal Medicine and The Soil Food Web

  Cornelia Holten 

Cornelia is an herbalist and slow food educator with a passion for simple living, DIY, herbs and self-sufficiency. A certificate in Organic Horticulture, the Soil Food Web, an Apprenticeship in Herbal Medicine and living on a farm in Pigeon Bay equip her with a lot of knowledge and experience with growing food and living a healthy life.

She is teaching workshops on sustainable food systems, whole foods, fermentation, primal diets and organic gardening. A thirst for knowledge and a passion for new scientific studies keep her well informed on those topics.

About KoruKai Herb Farm

On KoruKai Herb Farm we grow over 80 medicinal herbs and turn them into herbal teas, herbal remedies and skin care products. Everything is grown spray-free and organically with an integrated pest and disease management. We grow all our vegetables, eggs, meat and some fruit for the year on the farm and sell surplus to the local community. We measure the nutrient density in our vegetables and herbs with a Brix meter and do soil tests on a regular basis to help us with decision making. We implement permaculture principles wherever possible trying to close the "loop". We have a composting toilet and use water harvesting techniques like swales on contour on our hilly block. We keep Wiltshire sheep, ducks, chickens and weaner pigs. We have a Jersey house cow and transform the milk into butter, cheese and yoghurt.

Terms and Conditions

  • A spot is reserved as soon as the full payment is received.
  • There are maximum numbers for each workshop and you will be placed on a waiting list once the workshop is full. You will be updated via email if a space becomes available. Full refund is given for amount paid if no space is granted.
  • The workshop will start on time. Please make sure to arrive at least 10 minutes before the start of the workshop. You are welcome to come up to 30 minutes before the workshop and have a wander around our garden and property.
  • Please calculate enough time to get to our property. We are a scenic 1.5 hour drive from Christchurch in Pigeon Bay (details per email). If you arrive late please respect the running of the workshop.
  • Cancellation policy:
    • full refund is given if cancellation is made within 2 weeks of the workshop
    • 50% refund is given if cancellation is made 13-3 days before the workshop
    • no refund is given if cancellation is made within 2 days of the workshop
    • full refund is given if KoruKai is cancelling the workshop due to unforeseen circumstances
    • minimum number of attendees for the workshop to go ahead is 10. If the minimum number is not reached two days before the workshop, the workshop is cancelled per email notification and any payment made will be refunded
    • full refund is given if attendee cannot make the postponement date in case of rain on the actual workshop day (just applies to workshops with postponement date stated)
Ingredientsinformation and practical knowledge

Perfect Day!

I must thank YOU for sharing your world of knowledge on everything garden and beyond :) I really enjoyed your workshop and have already organized a wwoofer to put plans into place :)
It was good to see all the stages and I think you as a person are so impressive, I can't think of anything you could do better. I had a great day and will definitely recommend your workshop, and the other workshops, to my friends.
Was a pleasure as always in your garden Cornelia!


    Loved the practical bits

    A very well organised course. Cornelia's knowledge is outstanding! Loved the practical bits. I now have fire in my belly and excitement/urgency about getting going. I would love to feed my family from the garden. I look forward to next workshop.


      Wonderful workshop

      Thank you for a wonderful day yesterday. We really enjoyed your workshop and your lovely home and surroundings.
      Your introduction and telling us your personal background got me very enthusiastic. You and your family are heroes. The more people that attend this workshop or hear your message the better.
      It would be a dream for me to be able to provide all the vegetables for my family, but you and this workshop showed me it is possible.
      I think your coverage was spot on, you made room for questions but did not get too distracted from the time. I’m sure your notes will be my source of knowledge- I think I will need to get them laminated.
      Thank you for being a guiding figure; we need thousands of people like you so we can turn the way food is produced and the way we look at sustainability around.


        Very inspiring!

        Thank you so much for the workshop. I loved it and feel like I came away with so much info, and all very relevant ! I’m very excited to get out in the garden! Thank you and your family for sharing with us. You really do have a wonderful way of teaching.. you are very inspiring!

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