We’ve just taken our Permaculture Design Course students to a small town called Lorinna, a place which is beyond unique. Approximately 100 folks live here and a lot of them are aligned in how they choose to live life – mainly locally, sustainably, creatively and abundantly. Within the valley all types of produce is grown and raised including meat, grain, fruit and vegetables in both home and market gardens. A local food co-op lives at the community hall and an annual harvest feast marks the seasons and brings people together. It’s a special place.
Our first stop for the day was Seven Springs Farm, established and run by Wouter and Elise. Wouter is originally from Belgium and has a long history in farming, specifically community supported agriculture. His depth of knowledge is incredibly valuable and his work ethic is out of this world – this guy is cranking it. They have a weekly stall at Launceston’s Harvest Feast market and supply local residents with some of the finest food around.
They grow up to 70 different crops and only use heirloom and open-pollinated varieties to ensure high quality produce with great flavour. All their seedlings, potting mixes, solar and micro-hydro electricity are all produced on farm. They save seed and propagate their own vegetable varieties, with particular pride in Wouter’s Belgian cauliflower and leek.
Our second stop was Annie and Bart’s home. These folks moved to Lorinna in the 1970s and some of the key people who make this place what it is. Particular highlights included their kitchen garden which is wrapped around part of their house (specifically their kitchen). It’s a pumping, vibrant little space overflowing with edibles and beautifuls.
They also have a small glasshouse where they grow exciting things like ginger, that’s right *ginger*. Need proof? See the photo below with a proud Annie standing next to it.
Bart drives the renewable energy on the property (and throughout the valley). They have solar, micro hydro and timber as their energy sources. By not relying on just one type of energy they ensure they never run out.
Above and below you can see one of their electric quad bikes and golf buggies they use to get around the valley, they’ve retrofitted these themselves to be 100% electric. I want one.
Bart and Annie’s solar (above) and hydro (below) systems form the backbone to meeting their energy needs
We ate our lunch in ‘the studio’, a space in the process of being built (almost finished) by a range of people as a shared space for good things to happen – like a bunch of permaculture students coming over to eat lunch and chew the fat.
We capped off lunch with a short stop at the Mug Wall Cafe – a social permaculture initiative run by Tamas and Linda from their little house once a week on Sundays. This ace little venture is a project which forms part of Tamas’s PhD research, investigating how permaculture principles can also be living art with a key focus of engaging people to build community connections.
Our final stop for the day was Lance and Olga’s home. I feel pretty confident in saying that Lance is one of the best earth builders in Australia. His attention to detail, passion and skill is renowned throughout the Tasmania and people who want to know about this stuff.
They’ve been building their house for the past 14 years. I realise this sounds like a long time, however in this time, Lance has also built a few other house in the valley, worked on numerous demolition and building projects outside Lorinna and chosen to actually rebuild parts of his house as he learned better ways of earth building over the years. He’s very amazing.
Some particularly interesting and funky things about his building techniques include the fact he ferments his render (often with apples) to make it more resilient and robust – plus it smells sweet, like sourdough bread.
One of his more recent developments is making mud brick tiles for some of their floors instead of solid earth. He was drawn to do these as some of his earth floors were consistently cracking despite trying a range of approaches – the tiles are a great solution for this.
A recent installation of tiles in the kitchen which is almost finished
The section of the house which they’re already living in and is *almost* finished is peaceful, gorgeous and so welcoming that you feel like you’re at home. In fact this is how Lorinna makes me feel, and while I have no plans to move there, I love being able to visit and bring our permaculture students to show another way of life, even if it isn’t the way for them. There are so many lessons to learn here about how to live lightly on the earth whether you end up in the city or bush. Thanks for having us Lorinna – you guys rock.