Archive for ‘August, 2016’

Elgaar Farm Returns!! With X-mas Hampers!!

Please excuse the amount of exclamation marks in the heading for this blog, BUT we’re excited (and relieved). You see, almost two years ago Tasmania’s only organic, family run dairy, Elgaar Farm, lost their licence due to a paperwork mishap (you can read about it here).

No one ever dreamed it would take 22 months of round the clock work from the Gretschmann family to meet new industry standards and an epic crowd funding campaign that raised over $250,000 from people like you and me to upgrade their dairy and make sure they didn’t loose their farm in the process.

We are all deeply relieved that their licence has been granted and they can get back to doing what they do best – making some of the worlds best, most ethical dairy products commercially available.



Tassie folk can expect to see Elgaar back in action at the Harvest Launceston Market on Saturdays and Hobart Farm Gate Market on Sundays by mid-late September. You can stay in the loop by joining their facebook page to here all updates.

X-mas Hampers!

To raise funds to get production rolling again, they’re offering a limited amount of pre-sale x-mas hampers full of dairy delights and other local goodies for you and your loved ones to feast on. Get in on this amazing deal HERE by September 21st to lock in the best x-mas present ever! And yes, they post all over Australia, so you don’t have to be in Tassie to get in on this greatness.


A massive high five and a big round of hugs to the Gretschmann family for being brave enough to ask for help in the face of a bureaucratic system that cripples, rather than supports small farmers. If you’re close enough to one, hug a small farmer today and if you can’t do that, be sure to support them with your hip pocket. As long as we have farms like Elgaar in the world – our food system and life in general is not only safe – it is awesome, as it should be.


  • All photos are from Elgaar Farm
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Sydney Park – A Stormwater wonderland

On our recent family trip to Sydney, Hannah co-taught a permaculture design course for Milkwood and little Frida Maria and I (Anton) visited a hundred different playgrounds and parks.  The most impressive of these was Sydney Park in St Peters just south-west of the city.  Why is it awesome? Well the place is a stormwater re-use wonderland.


IMG_20160719_104258Stormwater (ie run-off from streets and parks) often looks like the shot below.  Here, there are thousands of plastic bottles and wrappers and water that doesn’t look so great for public health and the environment.


Instead, Sydney Park uses a variety of biological methods to clean water for reuse and provides a lush and inviting play space.  So where does the water come from?  Curbs like these below.  The Sydney Council says that 78% of the catchment has hard surfaces, i.e. paving or roofs – that’s a massive catchment area…


After passing through pipes under the street they enter the Munni Street Channel.  Apparently around 43 tonnes of gross pollutants run through this channel.  When the water levels are high, water is drawn from the channel into the Sydney park Wetlands.  Before they enter the park they go through a gross pollutant trap (“gross” means big, but its probably pretty ugly as well).  This filter removes the bottles, chip packets, cigarette butts, etc etc – that we like to leave on the street.  Perhaps fortunately Frida and I didn’t manage to find this part of the park.

In permaculture, we talk about managing water in a landscape by the following principles – “slow, sink, spread, store”. This system shows all these elements.

The water is diverted into large bio-retention ponds, here the water is filtered through a living system that removes a lot of the heavy nutrient loads in the water. This park has an incredible amount of dog walking action, so I’d say there’s a good portion of dog poo (with is rich nutrient) making its way into the water.

As you can see the water is diverted through several stages of retention beds.


Here you can see the overflow from the retention ponds to the storage ponds.

IMG_20160719_104412In total there are four main ponds, each filling each other as they move downhill through the site.  The park now features thriving water life and ever-improving water quality.
IMG_20160719_104303The park also features just about every design element out of a “water sensitive urban design” book. Here instead of guttering beside a pathway, water runoff infiltrates through a rock channel and is planted out with reeds.


Casuarina trees (a classic native riverside trees in Australia) line a drainage line.

IMG_20160719_104745The park also has some great interpretive signage, so you can learn about what’s happening as you frolic though the parklands.
IMG_20160719_103050If you’re thinking Sydney park is over the top and too expensive to implement, here’s a nearby raingarden.  These are a bio remediation technique on a much smaller scale, slowing, sinking and cleaning road runoff before entering the stormwater drain.


And if you’re still wondering whether you should visit this water improvement masterpiece, here are some final images. Frida and I think yes, you should.


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Hey Pesto! Winter Greens Pesto Yum

While the winter crops come to an end and the spring crops are busy growing, one of the biggest crops coming out of the garden are around a hundred different types of green things. Coriander, rainbow chard, rocket, silverbeet, kale and the leaves from brocolli, cauliflowers (yes, you can eat them too). Plus a plethora of wild greens like dandelion, fat hen, chickweed, nettle, to name a few – they’re all delicious and nutritious.

There are a couple of ways I like to make sure I eat as many as possible – kale chips are a big winner and so is pesto. Contrary to what some people might think, you don’t need basil and pine nuts to make pesto – in our cool temperate climate, things things don’t often come in abundance. We make vegan pesto out of any greens that happen to be thriving in our garden – here’s how.

IMG_6330Rainbow chard, curly kale and coriander – a few of the greens in our pesto

Pick a range of greens from your veggie beds (or some of the edible weeds growing on the edges) chop them up nice and fine and pop them in a large bowl.


When you make pesto – garlic is your best friend, we’re firm believers that more is better. So get as much garlic as you can, chop it up roughly and add it to the same bowl as the greens. Our garlic has the vague name of Tasmanian purple garlic – we’ve got a whole bunch left over from two seasons ago and it’s only now just sprouting. Perfect for pesto.


The only other ingredients we use are olive oil, sea salt and sunflower seeds. We also use almonds or pepitas – whatever is more available at the time.


Add all the ingredients into the bowl and find a way to pulverise it – we use a bar mixer thingo which works ok. Other people use a food processor or smash it up in a mortar and pestle.

You may need to add more olive oil as you go to get the right consistency – don’t bother skimping on the oil and no, water is not a good replacement for oil – I’ve tried that and it just isn’t pesto.



I like my pesto a bit chunky and “stiff” so it holds its own shape on a spoon (see below). If you want yours more runny, add more olive oil. You’ll notice we don’t add any cheese, we’ve found that its the garlic that really gives the ‘pesto’ taste and that cheese is just a bit of ‘bling’ that you don’t need – in our humble opinion.

IMG_6344That’s it, pop it in a jar and store it in the fridge or eat it fresh. I like to eat it with carrots, on home made pasta or olive oil crackers. Right now I’m just eating it with a spoon for a late breaky, it’s darn tasty.


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Cara Edwards: Farm Art Delight!

We first met Cara Edwards as one of our students on our permaculture design course back in 2013 and have been loving her gumption, talent and work ever since.  You can read about her previous urban “micro farm-like” home here which she shared with Fin. They’ve now gone country and in recent times, Cara’s put a lot of energy into her food and farm inspired *art and crafts* – so now we’re all like “get outta here!” Anyway, meet Cara, she’s tops…



What inspires your work?

I’m super nerdy about homesteading and beautiful vegetables and building badass skills. I’m also pretty shy and introverted and don’t really have the chops to be an activist on the front lines, so I like to use art as a platform to enthusiastically yell (but not literally yell) “RIDE YOUR BIKE! KNOW YOUR FARMER! GROW YUMMY THINGS!” Otherwise I’d probably just be telling the ducks in the back paddock. I’m also really inspired by hilarious animals (mostly chickens), kids in the garden, peeking over neighborhood fences and really just anyone growing anything edible. It’s the best!


Your work shows a lot of food and farming – are you a grower yourself?

My partner Fin and I normally grow the majority of our diet, but this year we’ve moved to a bigger patch (2 acres) and are still getting things established. We do have a pretty cranking asparagus bed though, and enough food in the ground to get us through winter – but we’ve mainly been working on infrastructure, like building our hothouse and fencing. We’ve also been fortunate enough to work for a local market gardener and he keeps us well fed on beautiful, organic produce. Thanks Golden Valley Farm!



What’s one of your favourite creations so far?

I’m pretty fond of my farmhers, sometimes I give them a little outfit update if the season changes. I also work as a primary school garden teacher and I have a lot of girls tell me they want to grow up to be gardeners or farmers, and this is always met with a schoolyard backlash of “girls can’t be farmers!!!” Of course, I give them a high-five and a “heck yeah, of course you can!”, but I have noticed that there isn’t a lot of material showing the diversity of growers around the world. Most of the picture books floating around depict farmers as aging white men on tractors. I made the original Farmher scribble for my no.1 student who studies the edible weeds and teaches the younger kids the names of the plants while I scoff down my lunch, she’s going to grow up to be a garden extraordinaire!




Who taught you to be so artsy?

I’m your classic art school drop out, I studied graphic design for a couple of years but became pretty disillusioned with the whole industry and left to go WWOOFing around NZ. So I have some technical skills left over from those days, but I grew up in a pretty crafty household. I’m visiting my parents this week and as I type my Mum is revamping a vintage dress and my dad is out building a new horse stable. We were always encouraged to make things, I normally chose to throw birthday parties for our family dog and measured everyone’s heads for perfectly fitting party hats. Bonnie had multiple birthdays each year, she was obviously thrilled.




Is there anything you hope your work will inspire in people to do/think? If so, what?


I hope it inspires a positive attitude towards community and growing and gets people thinking outside the stereotype of where and who your food comes from.

There are so many amazing, radical and humble people doing great things in this world and they should be celebrated and acknowledged… and sometimes they’re not even human, but just a really good bunch of chickens! Thanks chickens.

And thanks Cara! You’re a breath of fresh air and we love your approach to making this world awesome! You can get yourself some of Cara’s talent at her online shop HERE and follow her on instagram and facebook to keep up with her greatness.

*All photos are by Cara – she happens to be a nifty photographer too!

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Deep Winter Agrarians Gathering

This weekend just gone, around 200 farmers, gardeners, educators and advocates gathered in the very beautiful town of Gerringong (NSW) for two days and nights of talking, connecting, sharing and just generally being rad. I’ve returned home feeling *pumped* with renewed vigour and passion, here’s a little insight into this farming greatness.


Image from Milkwood

Part of the weekend involved hanging out at the very wonderful Buena Vista Farm – a family run farm that’s like nothing else. The people are out-of-this-world lovely and generous plus the land is fertile, looking over a coast line which most Aussies would love to live next to.


On this same patch of land, Linda Machon from Grow Farm Forage runs her independent market garden. It was all a bit dreamy. As you waltz through this space it’s easy to forget how much hard work goes into making and maintaining these food gardens. Full credit and respect to Linda for being so talented.




James from Hobart City Farm and Sadie from Fat Pig Farm from Tassie loving on Linda’s garden.


While the rows of veggies and flowers where super eye catching, Linda’s soil was even more glorious, this deep red gold is the stuff of dreams for growers.


Part of the absolute joy of these types of gigs is catching up with new and old friends, like Costa and fellow Tasmanians Jono Cooper and Paulette Whitney. Apologies for the dodgy photo above, just focus on the vibe – it’s all about the vibe.

And while it was awesome to spend time with committed and passionate growers and doers, coming home to a house full of love and a garden full of food always trumps everything. This week (and beyond) I’m feeling grateful to have a patch of land to grow our own and shape according to our beliefs and lives. What more could you really ask for…

Special thanks to Kirsten from Milkwood and Fiona and Adam from Buena Vista Farm for organising this fine event. I’m in love with all three of you!

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