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Published: 2004-03-04 00:00:00

Tours of a unique Cambridge property during the Festival of the Environment later this month will give plenty of inspiration of what to do with a ‘waste’ site.

The Olive Grove rammed earth house owned by Eunice and Peter Martin has been built on an old quarry site which began life as four acres of gorse, broom, blackberry and many other plant pests in a large gully.

The house and grounds, at 44 French Pass Road near Cambridge, will be open for visitors during the Festival on both Sundays, March 14 and 21 at 10am.

The area has come a long way since the Martins began working on the quarry in 1994, and it is now extensively planted in natives, exotics and fruit and nut trees as well as an olive grove.

The work was done on a shoestring budget with no heavy equipment, but the rammed earth house is now surrounded by gardens.

The Martins use ‘grey water’ (water previously used for washing) to irrigate the garden and use a lot of recycled materials. Many of the trees have been planted to attract bird life and to provide fruits and nuts, and many are not usually grown in the Waikato.

The tour will provide inspiration for people wanting to make use of ‘waste’ sites such as quarries, using organics, permaculture and recycling.

The Waikato environment will be the venue for fun and exploration later this month during the Festival. Environment Waikato, Hamilton City, Franklin, Waipa, South Waikato and Taupo councils, with the Department of Conservation have joined with local organisations to create more than 40 events across the Region from March 12-21.

Co-ordinator Kim Macrae Jonson says the festival will be a chance to find out more about the Region’s special places, understand the pressures threatening the environment and discover what can be done at home and work to make a difference.

Other events in the Waipa district include an open day at Karapiro Power Station, a vintage bike eco-tour of Te Pahu, a night walk on Mt Maungatautari, a fishing contest, a tour of Cambridge’s green belt and walkways, a Keep Te Awamutu Beautiful display, an evening bush walk in Pirongia Forest Park and a Harvest Festival in Te Awamutu.

A diary of all events throughout the Region is included in Environment Waikato’s current EnviroCare magazine, available from Waipa and Hamilton City councils and on the web at www.explorefestival.co.nz.