On our recent trip to Adelaide, South Australia we made sure to catch up with some of our old and new farming and grower friends. It gives us *great* joy to see people we love and admire flourishing in and out of the soil. It also reinvigorates us to “keep going” ourselves. So, in the spirit of sharing and inspiring others – check out these three fabulous, dedicated South Australian growers we can’t get enough of.
Woodville School Garden
15 years old and started by our very dear friend and horticulturalist, Brian Noone, the Woodville School Garden is a dense, multi-layered edible oasis in the middle of suburbia.
Brian started this garden from scratch on an old sports field. These days it’s now more like a food forest with mature fruit trees and patches of annuals scattered throughout. We visited on a *really* hot day and found refuge in this green, green garden of frog ponds, chickens, olive trees and corn so tall it cast beautiful shade.
Brian works with a range of students in the garden – some of which are working towards their certificate two in horticulture. The local orchid group have set up a space to grow rare orchids and are teaching the kids how to do this themselves. There’s also an aquaponics system on its way to being built, an extensive nursery and a pizza oven with an outdoor kitchen for celebrations and feasts.
Without a doubt this is one of the best school gardens I’ve seen. Its high level of productivity and obvious involvement from a range of people in and out of the school is impressive. Too often school gardens are reduced to a collection of raised veggie beds “in the corner” and the opportunity for a long term food source is missed. Way to go Brian and Woodville School!
The Food Forest
I first went to The Food Forest when I was 18 years old – 15 years ago. This is where I met Annemarie and Graham Bookman (the farmers) and had my “ah ha” moment about how effective and enjoyable permaculture can really be. It’s been 10 years since I was last there and it was such a joy to return with my little family, specifically to show Anton what I’ve been talking about consistently all these years!
As soon as we arrived Annemarie said “Let me take you to one my favourite places” and we walked away from the pumping market garden and orchards towards the river and riparian zone of regenerated bush. Sitting on a seat built by co-founder of permaculture, David Holmgren, Annemarie talked us through the evolution of this space and how it’s linked to restoring ecological stability to the area. In short, revegetating our water ways helps restore and stabilise ground water, rather than it rushing in and out of the landscape. There’s much more to it than that of course, years of thinking and hard work – but you get the jist.
In recent years, due to a changing climate they made the decision to drill a bore to secure water for their already mature farm. Interestingly, they’re now investing a huge amount of energy to harvest water from the river (when running and healthy) and return it to the aquifer (through the bore via a settling pond and tanks ) to fill it up for times when they’re need to use it for irrigation. No other farmer has done this that I’m aware of – talk about ethical land/water management!
We didn’t have time to walk the whole 15 hectares on our short visit, but the model below does a pretty good job at showing the huge diversity of farm crops grown including pistachios, carobs, figs, mixed fruit, small animals and so much more. This diversity ensures ecological health and a varied income spread over the year.
These people will forever be some of my favourites. Their work ethic, generosity, incredible knowledgable and just darn lovely characters will always be an inspiration to me and many, many others.
Village Greens Market Garden
Village Greens is only in its second growing season but operating like its an old hand at this market gardening gig. Beautifully designed and managed by Nat and Lucy, these two folks (and their team) are rocking this 1/2 acre of soil.
Nestled amongst the Aldinga Arts Eco Village the market garden grows a broad range of seasonal crops for sale at two local markets and does a fresh box delivery each week – they’re hard workers this mob.
They grow over 40 different types of vegetables and while not certified organic, they use organic practices which support soil and plant health and result in delicious, nutrient-dense food.
As we’ve worked on and around market gardens for many years we know what a good one looks like. As soon as I walked into this garden I noticed really good succession of crops happening – this is the result of *many* hours of planning and probably an impressive Excel spreadsheet working out timing of what’s planted when and where. South Australia’s lucky to have these folks growing for them!
Adelaide – you continue to be known as Radelaide in my heart. Your people are of a particularly fantastic flavour and while you’re a bit too hot and dry for us, we love you deeply and dearly.
Next to the market garden’s washing/packing/sorting shed is this cool-as forest where the local kids (from the Aldinga Arts Eco Village) have built this truly awesome bush play ground, complete with free ranging geese. And after our little market garden tour we popped in to see some old friends for lunch and lined up all the little people for a garden lunch. So beautiful.