Posts tagged ‘good life permaculture’

Real Skills For Growing Food

TWO DAYS OF HANDS-ON LEARNING, EQUIPPING YOU WITH THE SKILLS TO GROW FOOD IN YOUR OWN HOME.

We’re partnering with Fat Pig Farm to bring you two days of hands-on Real Skills for Growing Food. Join us to learn the foundations in growing your own food at home – skills that you’ll have for the rest of your life.

YOU’LL GET TO LEARN ALL ABOUT…

  • Soil: If you want to grow good food, you’re going to need to know about soil – this is the key to nutritious food production. We’ll introduce you to the soil food web and explore a range of soil preparation methods for different contexts.
  • Compost: Learn about a range of compost techniques and help build a big compost pile.
  • Propagation: Empower yourself to grow food from scratch – we’ll look at everything from making your own seed raising mix, planting seeds, and growing plants from cuttings.
  • Vegetable growing: We’ll introduce you to growing both annual and perennial vegetables so you can create diverse, edible gardens.

WHO SHOULD COME TO THIS WORKSHOP?

We’ve designed this workshop as an introduction for folks wanting to get started in growing their own food and for people looking for some extra guidance in refining their growing skills. If you’re looking for an advanced food growing workshop, this one isn’t for you – but stay tuned as we have big plans for a rather fantastic workshop on this.

STUDENTS RECEIVE

  • Full catering by Fat Pig Farm – it’s going to be delicious,
  • An invitation to an optional dinner on the Saturday night (additional cost applies),
  • Some solid time in Fat Pig Farm’s market garden where you’ll see strategies you can apply to your small or large garden,
  • A copy of The Practical Australian Gardener by Peter Cundall,
  • Seasonal vegetable seedlings to get you growing,
  • Extensive course notes on everything we cover over the weekend, and
  • Skills and knowledge useful for the rest of your life!

“The attention to detail was great – this makes everything run smoothly and comfortably. And the gifts were amazing! Not only did I have a wonderful weekend, I came away with so much stuff! Thank you”.

CATERING

Fat Pig Farm will spoil you with food to fill your belly, warm your hearts and inspire you to grow your own. Think hearty soups filled with fresh veggies from the garden, Fat Pig ham on bread straight from their wood fired oven, plus cakes and scones inspired by summer’s preserves.

SATURDAY NIGHT FARM FEAST

With Gourmet Farmer, Matthew Evans & Sadie Chrestman

All students plus their friends and family are invited to join us, Gourmet Farmer, Matthew Evans and Sadie Chrestman for a yarn and a cider over slow roasted farm grown goodness. Matthew and Sadie will fire up their wood fired oven and roast garden veggies and farm-grown meat. This is what we call a super special treat – not to be missed!

Please note, dinner is an optional extra to the daily workshops and costs an additional $80 per person. This is a wonderful chance to bring your family and friends along to soak up the hands-on learning vibes and enjoy the weekend with you.

*And yes, we can easily cater for people with different dietary needs.

Fat Pig Farm is nestled in Glaziers Bay, 10 minutes from Cygnet and is home to Sadie Chrestman and Gourmet Farmer, Matthew Evans. As a working farm, they run a market garden, mixed fruit and nut orchards, chickens, bees, some milking cows and raise pigs. They also have a delightful restaurant, open for weekly lunches and occasional cooking workshops.

HOW DO I GET THERE?

You’ll be provided with clear directions on how to get there prior to the course.

YOUR TEACHERS

Anton Vikstrom has well over a decade of hands-on experience in working with urban agriculture. His work includes establishing his homestead in South Hobart (which is shaping up to be an example of urban permaculture at its finest) and designing people’s properties. He is deeply committed to regenerating landscapes, building community, having a good life and supporting others to do the same.

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James DaCosta is head farmer at the Hobart City Farm. Originally from NW Tasmania, he was reared on the rich red soils of that region where he grew large and strong like a Kennebec (potato). He is a gardener, bee keeper, and permaculture designer. A natural teacher, James has a knack for inspiring and equipping people with the skills they need to get growing!

 

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Nadia Danti has been the head market gardener at Fat Pig Farm. She brings years of market gardening experience and has travelled the world working with some of the best growers out there to learn the skills she needed. Nadia is passionate about soil health and understanding the ecosystem under our feet, as well as supporting people to connect to their local food system and empowering them to grow some of their own food in whatever sized space they have!

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Firstly, thank you for a thoroughly enjoyable and educational course. As experienced growers, we were impressed that you covered so many areas so that inexperienced and experienced growers could walk away with something of value. It was a really positive feeling to walk away with a book, seedlings, trays, seeds, cuttings etc – was most generous and will be a great ongoing reminder of where we started (dead or not ;-)). Thank you so much everyone. You are great bunch!

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ACCOMMODATION

For folks travelling from afar – there are a wealth of local options for you to choose from, CLICK HERE to see a huge range of options put together by our friends at the Cygnet Folk Festival.

CANCELLATION POLICY

There is no refund available for this course. If you’re unable to make it we encourage you to pass your place onto friends or family – alternatively you’re welcome to put it towards one of our future courses.

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The Goat Workshop

A workshop for people wanting to keep goats holistically, productively and consciously.

Join Jilly Middleton and Hannah Moloney at Fat Pig Farm to learn about keeping goats naturally. Based on their lived experience, this workshop will provide tips, tricks and depth of information you simply can’t find in the books, or on goat forums (trust me, we’ve tried).

This workshop will cover

  • Keeping goats to manage farm weeds, i.e. blackberries and gorse,

  • Raising goats to be hardy and low maintenance,
  • Domestic goat keeping: Keeping goats in urban or small areas,
  • Wholistic goat care,
  • What to feed your goats,
  • Breeding goats,
  • Fencing, and
  • So much more!

Participants receive

  • Theoretical information and discussion on everything goats,
  • Tour of goats in action on the farm,
  • Delicious and nutritious lunch from Fat Pig Farm,
  • Course notes, tailored for the Tasmanian context, and
  • New networks and goat friends to connect with into the future.

Teaching team

Jilly Middleton runs Twelve Trees Farm in Cygnet – an organic blueberry farm. While she currently has no goats on her farm, she spent 7 years farming goats naturally for meat, milk and to manage a range of weeds on her farm include gorse and blackberries. She is a wealth of practical knowledge and has a rare depth of information on everything goat.

She recently sold her goat herd to Fat Pig Farm where they now spend their days eating blackberries. You can see her talking goats with Matthew Evans talking  on a recent episode of The Gourmet Farmer here.

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Hannah Moloney runs Good Life Permaculture where she’s the lead educator and permaculture designer. For the past two years, she’s also been doting on two toggenburg goats – one of which she milks daily in central Hobart. She brings the unique experience of urban goat keeping, has worked through numerous challenges of sourcing food, health and fencing. All of this can be applied to any domestic “house goat context” in both rural and (some) urban locations.

 

Food

This workshop includes delicious and nutritious lunch from the Fat Pig Farm kitchen. You’ll feast on seasonal produce straight from their farm. We can’t really describe how good their food is (it’s really good), so you’ll just have to come try it.

Venue

We’re holding this workshop at Fat Pig Farm in Glaziers Bay. Fat Pig Farm have their own herd of goats which students get to see in action. Bred by Jilly around the corner on her own farm, these goats have been trained to eat weeds, specifically gorse and blackberries.

Where’s Fat Pig Farm? The exact location of the venue will be shared with students closer to the workshop.

Cancellation policy

There is no refund available for this course. If you’re unable to make it we encourage you to pass your place onto friends or family.

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Introduction to Small-Scale Beekeeping

A one day introduction to small-scale beekeeping course designed for the beginner and novice beekeeper keen to have one (or a few) hives in their homes. We’ll guide you through the key foundations of bee theory and action so that by the end of the day you’ll be either ready to start on your bee journey, add to it or refine it.

THIS WORKSHOP HAS SOLD OUT, HOWEVER WE MADE ANOTHER ONE FOR YOU WHICH YOU CAN BOOK INTO HERE. 

THIS WORKSHOP WILL

  • Provide the theory you need to get started in beekeeping
  • Discuss the importance of bees in our food systems, key threats to their health and how you can help them out
  • Show you three different types of hives – the langstrothwarre and top bar beehive and how they work so you can make an informed decision for your own place
  • Open a live hive so you can see how to manage and work with bees on a practical level
  • Introduce you to some of the simple and best tools to utilise as a beginner beekeeper

STUDENTS RECEIVE

  • A bee veil,
  • Morning and afternoon tea and treats (we invite people to bring a plate of food to share for lunch),
  • A whole bunch of new bee friends and networks to stay in contact with, and
  • Course notes, jam packed with information to support you to be a gun beekeeper!

YOUR TEACHERS


Anton Vikstrom
is a sustainability specialist with over 15 years experience in urban agriculture, renewable energy, international development, energy efficiency and sustainability. In recent years, honey bees have crept into his list of passions and he currently keeps top bar hives and is looking to expand in numbers and types. Anton is one of those rare breeds with both deep theoretical knowledge and practical capabilities. Over the years, this has seen him work for the Alternative Technology Association, Cultivating Community and Sustainable Living Tasmania. At the same time he has finally honed his practical skills in everything from off-grid solar power, carpentry, landscaping, brewing beers and wines, fermenting, kite making and sewing.

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img_6834James Da Costa
 grew up on the NW coast of Tasmania and currently lives in lovely Hobart town. He has been keeping bees on a backyard scale for the past 6 years and throughout this time has been collecting and re-homing swarms and wild colonies of honey bees. He currently manages around 6 hives in suburban settings, is a founding member of the Hobart City Farm and has a background in permaculture design, community engagement and small-scale food systems. Over the past two years he has been building and sampling the workings of a few different hive designs and is interested in the effects of these designs on bee health, behaviour and how their unique designs and construction methods lend themselves to people’s diverse situations.

VENUE

We’re hosting this one day extravaganza in New Town at the Hobart City Farm and Kickstart Arts (across the road from the City Farm). We’ll provide additional details on how to get there closer to the course date.

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CANCELLATION POLICY

There is no refund available for this course. If you’re unable to make it we encourage you to pass your place onto friends or family.

* Feeling keen? You can read more about different types of beehives here.

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Permaculture Teacher Training

Join us for six days of intensive training that will provide you with a game-changing toolkit to use in the classroom and life in general.  Whether you’re already a teacher, or thinking of becoming one, this course is designed to turn teaching into a transformative and fun exchange. Classrooms will never be the same again.

You’ll walk away from this course being able to communicate clearly and confidently with a group of people.  Plus you’ll join a learning community of teachers full of inspiration, mutual support and on-going learning.

Course requirement

We require all students to have completed a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) (anywhere in the world) before the course starting date. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this.

This course is for PDC holders in any of the following fields…

If you’re looking to do any type of sustainability or permaculture education/communication, this is the course you’ve been waiting for. This includes teachers and students of architecture, landscape design, school/community gardeners, local government community development officers, ecology and other disciplines including geography, regenerative agriculture and agroforestry as well as permaculture design.

You will learn how to…

  • Design a short, or long course
  • Develop clear course outcomes and ethics
  • Adopt appropriate body behaviour and use nonviolent communication
  • Design effective learning resources
  • Use teaching aids effectively
  • Work with a broad range of people from different cultures and backgrounds
  • Draw on strategies that promote thinking and integrate practical experience
  • Deliver clear explanations and concepts
  • Explain the structure and function of the Permaculture Design Course
  • Give effective and engaging lectures with powerpoint
  • Debrief and give appraisal of your own, and other teaching techniques

Your teachers

Hannah Moloney is a full time permaculture designer  and educator who works with land holders to design landscapes that beautiful, abundant and resilient. When not designing, she’s running community projects, gardening and being a guest presenter on Gardening Australia (in the first half of 2019).

In recent years Hannah has had the pleasure of working alongside some of the most celebrated permaculturalists in the world including David HolmgrenRosemary Morrow and Dave Jacke. In 2015 she was awarded the Tasmanian ‘Young Landcare Leader Award’ for her work with Good Life Permaculture and co-founding Hobart City Farm and in 2018 she took part in the Tasmanian Leaders Program. You can read more about Hannah here.

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Brenna Quinlan is a permaculture educator and illustrator. She regularly teaches PDCs with Melliodora (with David Holmgren) and Milkwood and is a regular guest teacher on Retrosuburbia Train the Trainers course and in the past, a series of Rucache permaculture courses in Argentina and Brazil. In 2018 Brenna co-taught the Permaculture Teacher Training course and a CERES Train the Trainers course with Rosemary Morrow, and is currently working with permaculture band Formidable Vegetable Sound System and Resource Smart Schools Victoria in bringing permaculture education to schools. As an illustrator, Brenna’s work can be seen in David Holmgren’s 2018 book Retrosuburbia, as well as the Milkwood Book, Farming Democracy, and Delvin Solkinson’s permaculture educational resources.

Students receive

  • Catering – delicious and nutritious vegetarian food for the duration of the course.
  • A copy of Earth User’s Guide to Teaching Permaculture: An invaluable friend to the experienced and novice teacher alike.
  • Class notes and resources.
  • A whole new network of teachers and doers for you to draw on, and be part of!

Venue & class schedule

This course is being held at the Sustainable Learning Centre, a 10 minute drive from Hobart city. Please note, there is no onsite accommodation.

This course runs from 8:30 – 5pm each day.

Cancellation policy

If you need to withdraw from this course we ask that you give us 2 weeks notice, we’ll provide a refund minus the deposit fee. Alternatively you’re welcome to pass your place onto a friend or family member or put the full fee towards one of our future courses.

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Introduction to Permaculture

Join us for one day of exploration into permaculture. You’ll gain a solid introduction to permaculture foundations and the framework to design your own home in the city or out bush.

Immerse yourself in a proactive day of thinking, learning and exploring avenues to respond to some of the biggest social, environmental and economic challenges of our time in a proactive and positive way. Learn the basics in how you can apply permaculture to everything from house design, food production, energy systems and community development, all with a distinct Tasmanian flavour and focus..

Your permaculture course has completely changed my focus and approach towards my surroundings. I now have a clear vision and outlook of what I want to achieve In my garden and beyond. I have since been describing your course as a springboard. I left feeling inspired to continue learning more about permaculture and to take the first steps to creating a garden for my family to enjoy.

THIS COURSE COVERS

  • Origins of permaculture and the global context
  • Permaculture ethics and principles
  • The permaculture design framework
  • Exploration of permaculture in action in urban and rural contexts.

STUDENTS RECEIVE

  • A copy of the Introduction to Permaculture book by Bill Mollison,
  • Morning and afternoon tea/refreshments
  • Course notes, and
  • New friends and networks.

OUR TEACHING APPROACH

This is not a hands-on gardening course. This course is an engaging combination of theory and interactive group work. If you’re after a hands-on workshop have a look at what we have coming up here.

Two green thumbs up. Structure of the day, variety of delivery of information, engaging activities, amount of content covered, general warmth and enthusiasm all brilliant .

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YOUR TEACHER

Hannah Moloney is Good Life Permaculture’s lead landscape designer and educator. She grew up on a city farm in Brisbane growing herbs and has over 15 years of hands-on experience in designing, building and managing projects around urban agriculture, small-scale farming, permaculture and community development, including co-founding the Hobart City Farm. She has a post-grad diploma in community cultural development, a diploma in permaculture and since 2009, has been teaching permaculture across Australia. She’s had the pleasure of learning from Rosemary Morrow, Dr Elaine Ingham and David Holmgren. In recent years Hannah has had the pleasure of teaching alongside some of the most celebrated permaculturalists in the world including David Holmgren (co-founder of permaculture), Rosemary Morrow and Dave Jacke..

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I think Hannah brought together senses of welcomeness and openness, whilst being informative and fun. Was really impressed.

VENUE

We’re holding this course at the Sustainable Learning Centre in Mt Nelson, Hobart. We’ll provide all details on how to get there for our students just before the course..

Such an interesting venue. Loads of drinks and delicious dip and cake!.

CANCELLATION POLICY

There is no refund available for this course. If you’re unable to make it we encourage you to pass your place onto friends or family..

I found it very inspiring, lovely to spend a weekend with like minded people while learning more about how to live sustainably while still enjoying a comfortable lifestyle.

I enjoyed the way Hannah delivered the workshop and particularly the constant interaction/exercises that took place between our small groups. Total involvement. Also liked discovering the principles of Permaculture and the connectivity that comes with it. Was useful for our private plans.

Fantastic , in general I’m not a great learner in a classroom setup but I was engaged and interested throughout the whole day

Brilliant! I had such a great day and left feeling motivated to keep learning.

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Salvia Leucantha: Pruning & Propagating

The Salvia family is a beautiful one. We’re slowly but surely planting a large range of them in our garden. My current favourite is the Mexican bush sage (Salvia Leucantha) – I love it for its vibrant purple flowers which come in autumn and winter, exactly when we need them (it gets a bit grey here around then). Every so often we’ll seen a brave bumble or honey bee feeding off them in this time of the year when most other garden flowers are sleeping – so its everyone’s friend.

We’ve planted them at the base of a row of native Hop bushes (Dodonaea viscosa) which will eventually be hedged tight, with all the prunings being fed to our goats.

How to prune

In order to keep this glorious colour and fresh looking foliage coming back again and again, you need to prune them *hard* once a year. All you need to do is cut all the one year old growth to the ground once you see their flowers dying and fresh, new shoots coming out of the base.

The flowers start to fade towards the end of winter – this is the time to prune them. 

A fresh shoot (white stem) next to an older shoot (purple stem)

If you look to the base of the plant, you’ll see new shoots popping up next to the older shoots as seen above. Simply cut all the old shoots off at ground level. Because I wait for the shoots to come, I never have any bare ground. Below you can see a freshly pruned shrub in the foreground and an older one about to be pruned in the background.

Edit: A very helpful person on social media pointed out that they wait until there’s no risk of frost happening in their region before cutting the old growth out. So might not cut it until mid/late spring. We have a warm(er) microclimate in Hobart, close to the ocean, so don’t have serious frost issues. 

How to propagate from cuttings

You’ll be left with *a lot* of vegetation. Instead of just throwing this in the compost or chook run, you can make many, many cuttings from it to grow more plants. Because you can never have too many Salvias.

To propagate salvia from cuttings, cut a piece of the hardwood from the old wood with 4 – 5 nodes showing. Nodes are the part of a plant stem from which leaves or roots emerge, often forming a slight swelling. Make sure you have a node near the bottom of the stem.

Strip all the leaves from stems. As you can see below, I’ll often leave one small leaf at the top to help photosynthesise. But if any of the leaves start to wilt and die, nip them off and don’t worry, the cutting will still strike :-).

A cutting with a small leaf left on the top and 7 nodes. 

You can then plant up to 5 cuttings in each pot. Once they start setting roots in the warmth of spring you can move them up into their own pots to grow nice and big before eventually putting them into the garden.

For this batch I made the potting mix out of 40% compost (for nutrients) and 60% coco peat (to hold onto moisture) as this is all I had available. Usually you’d also put some sand in there for good drainage – but these are hardy cuttings that don’t need pampering.

And that’s it. I now have 65 Salvia Leucantha cuttings which will grow into vigorous bushes of glory.  And no, that’s not too many – I will happily home them all throughout our garden.

 

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Our Car Share: One Less Car & One More Bike!

After many months of planning and thinking, we sold our 4WD ute, bought a second electric bike and entered a car share arrangement with some mates around the corner who have a small “buzz box” car. It feels really good.
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Jodie and Marty’s buzz box and our two electric bikes

But Why?

Two main reasons – firstly, it’s cheaper to share a car. We did some back-of-the-envelope sums and figured out we’d save around $5000 each year. Secondly, in the very big face that is the current climate crisis, we’re constantly looking at how we can prevent carbon emissions from occurring in our own lives to contribute to the solution and not the pollution. Check out this graph drawn up by Brenna Quinlan that shows the power of personal action in the face of climate change.
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Not having a car is the second most impactful thing we can do in our society – right after considering how you approach family planning. Australia’s Climate Council has this to say on the matter…
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“Transport – cars, trucks, public transport, domestic flights and shipping – is Australia’s second largest source of greenhouse gas pollution. The sector emitted 102 million tonnes carbon dioxide (MtCO2) in 2018, representing 18% of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas pollution…
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The major source of the problem is cars, responsible for roughly half of Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution from transport. In fact, Australian cars emit roughly the same per year as Queensland’s entire coal and gas fired electricity supply (Climate Council).”
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Yeah, so cars are a big deal, yet most folks consider them to be an extension of our bodies and lives. But do they have to be for everyone? In an ideal world, we’d have amazing public transport systems *everywhere*, affordable electric cars and bike infrastructure and incentives that get urban folk on their bikes and out of their cars. But that’s not an option for a large portion of us.
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For example, we personally can’t afford an electric car (however we do hope to access one in the future), our public transport system is average at the best of times and our bike infrastructure is limited. It’s easier to drive because that’s how our city and whole island infrastructure has been designed and developed.

How does the car share work?

A car share is a practical solution to our current lives where we still need a car for work and sometimes play. Tasmania currently doesn’t have a formal car share enterprise set up (as other parts of Australia do), so we initiated our own with some mates (thanks Jodie and Marty) around the corner who have a small, efficient car they were willing to share. We’ve done a range of things to formalise the agreement and make record keeping easy, these include:
  • Having a contract that outlines everything super clearly. There’s nothing wishy-washy about what we’re doing, everything’s written down which ensures we’re all on the same page.
  • Establishing an online calendar so we can book the car in when we need it.
  • We have a shared Google Docs form where we all enter how many kms we did, if you spent on money (fuel, repairs etc) and whether we did city or highway driving.
  • We have insurance – this will cover any accidents (touch wood) and remove any big financial risk associated with them.
  • Agree to meet every quarter to review the agreement and resolve any costs if needed.
  • If we both need it at the same time, the household who needs it for the least amount of time will rent a car instead.

What’s challenging about it?

There are some challenges to this new way of transport for us, actually there’s only one. We need to be more organised with our time. But really, being more organised is a pretty ace life skill, so fostering that is actually a positive.

Should everyone do a car share?

No. We acknowledge that this isn’t an option for everyone. It happens to be for us because we live in Hobart city, this makes it easy for us to walk and ride for 80% of our trips. Not everyone can access housing in a central city or town, or make their lives and/or work functional without the use of a car everyday.
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I’m completely uninterested in sounding like a white, privileged bozo and flippantly saying that everyone should do this cause we can. What I will say is that we can all do things to transition to a meaningful life that can help prevent the climate crisis from getting worse. What that thing/s is will depend on your context. I simply invite you to explore your world and find that thing/s and make it happen :-).
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For us, we’re on a one-way track to constantly working on untangling ourselves from being so dependent on fossil fuels and capitalism. We often ask ourselves the question “do we really need this thing in our lives, or is there another way?” Often, there is another way and we like this other way. It’s full of better health, community connections and resilience.
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Anton and Frida rugged up and on their way to Kindy
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Baby Blue Popcorn

Baby blue popcorn (Zea mays) is a miniature heirloom variety of corn. It’s quite hard to find any information about it online, so I’m sharing the little I know here to help you get orientated around this little gem.

Like all corn, it’s a heavy feeder, so likes lots of compost and water. And even though it’s a dwarf variety, it’s quite prolific with between 4 – 5 cobs per plant. If you’re able to, you can plant it out with the three sisters guild to get more yield from the space you’re growing in.

This corn isn’t for eating fresh, rather for drying and popping later – so after you’ve harvested, you need to let it dry. I do this by pealing back its “coat” and ideally hanging it up, as it makes for good decorations. But usually I just peal the coat off and pop it in an airy cardboard box under the kitchen bench.  Because, alas, I’m not that type of person who makes spare moments for decorating (often).

As it dries the colour can darken to a dusky, midnight blue. So pretty that I arrange it in lines and then in a mandala shape – cause it made me happy.

Now, the important bit – the popping…

To pop the corn, heat a pot on the stove with 1-2cm of oil on the bottom (we use olive oil). To make sure the oils hot enough, put one bit of corn in – it should pop quickly. If it doesn’t, wait for the oil to heat more. Once it’s all in, shake the pot every now and then to make sure all the corn gets popped. And after a few minutes or so it’ll all be done.

You’ll notice, the corn turns white once popped – slightly disappointing, but still darn tasty.

Where can you buy seed in Tasmania?

  • I got given seed by someone many years ago and haven’t been able to source it commercially. BUT I just noticed that Southern Harvest in Tasmania are saving some seed to sell. It’s not yet on their website (at the time of writing this), but get in touch with them to let them know you’re keen.
  • Seed Freaks (also have other types of heirloom corn which you can find here.
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Mab Ueang Agri-Nature Centre in Thailand

The Mab Ueang Agri-Nature Centre is an educational, diverse farm located one hour out of Bangkok, Thailand. At 30 years old, this mature farm is predominantly a giant food forest with small rice paddies and strategic water systems integrated. It’s amazing.

It’s based on the late King Bhumibol’s many decades of research and advocacy in agriculture and culture to create the New Theory Sufficiency Economy. King Bhumibol initiated this theory to help Thai farmers who suffer from the impacts of economic crisis, natural disasters and other unproductive natural conditions.

The New Theory suggests that farmers apply moderation, due consideration and self-immunity to their practice of farming to shield them from the risks and impacts of globalisation and other uncontrollable factors in their farming.

“…I ask all of you to aim for moderation and peace, and work to achieve this goal. We do not have to be extremely prosperous…If we can maintain this moderation, then we can be excellent…” His Majesty the King’s Statement given on 4 December 1974

After visiting quite a few farms throughout Thailand, THIS one was by far the most sophisticated, resilient, clever and successful that’s in line with what we look to create with permaculture design. Here’s a brief tour of some of the key elements…

The water systems

Throughout the food forest are many strategic channels guiding water from pond to pond. While I was there it was the end of the dry season so these channels were mostly dry (as they should be). I can imagine them in the wet season all full and flowing beautifully.

This small bamboo structure above is designed to slow and sink water into the soil as it moves through the system.

These depressions above are designed to grow small rice crops in once. Out of shot uphill is a “header tank” where water can be released into these areas (or other gardens) to irrigate as needed.

And everywhere there are demonstrations on how to use slope, contours and terracing to manage water and vegetation as can be seen below.

The structures

Throughout the food forest are small homes for staff and volunteers. They’re cleverly integrated into the landscape, providing comfortable places to live. In the extreme heat of this area (it was 42 degrees when I was there), inside this forest was significantly cooler.

Impressively there’s an example of how, even if you don’t have land, you can live and grow on water. The example below shows how you can build a floating house and garden on a fresh water pond where abundant fish are also available as food.

In the 30 seconds it took me to take this photo, 5 fish jumped out of the water. It’s so abundant. 

A solar panel demonstrates fo solar energy can be harvested for lighting.

Shadecloth with a surprisingly small amount of soil are held in bamboo frames to grow vegetables, rice and fruit trees. Fish eat the bugs and worms that thrive in this system, meaning no other food needs to be provided to the fish.

Energy

As well as food, this farm demonstrates how you can make your own energy for cooking. Specifically with bio-digesters which use buffalo poo and water in an anaerobic environment to create methane gases. This gas is harvested and piped to the nearby kitchen for cooking. Low-tech and highly effective.

The kitchen with the bio-digester in the background.

Bamboo

Bamboo is grown extensively as a building material for homes and garden structures. The image below shows how bamboo can be used to help establish Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanoides) in steep banks to stop erosion.

And for building structures and garden edging as seen below…

Bamboo used as garden edging. 

Rice

Amongst the food forest are rice paddies. Rather than large rice paddies, they have more of them but at smaller dimensions amongst the trees with strategic water channels to let water in and out as needed. This is more inline with “dry land” rice production – using less water to fit in erratic rainfall.

Seeds

Seeds are harvested and stored to preserve diversity and to share with other Thai farmers. While seemingly modest, saving seed has always been a key part to a country’s cultural independence. Having control over seed varieties and distribution means you have control over the food system.

While permaculture was developed by two white men in Australia (Bill Mollison and David Holmgren), I believe it stands on the very broad shoulders of traditional cultures everywhere. There are many design and ethical similarities between the New Theory and permaculture. Not for the first time, I’m struck at how traditional cultures *all around the world* have already worked out how to live well intuitively and through observational science.

If you’re working in a foreign country in permaculture, the best thing you can do is look to the local people with healthy landscapes and communities – they’ll have all the strategies and techniques appropriate for that environmental and cultural context.

This place will forever stay with me as an incredible example of good design in action. I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s happening there, so encourage anyone in that part of the world to have a visit…

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How To Grow Beans For Drying (& Eating Later)

This past season we grew enough purple bush beans to eat fresh and save a bunch for drying and eating in winter. As we’ve got limited space, it’s not enough to supply all our needs, but we like trying new things each year and thought we’d experiment with how much we could do.

We grew purple bush beans, we’re fond of the bush variety as they require no staking – a major bonus in the time saving department. We planted two long rows with beans 15cm apart and transplanted them out to 30cm – 40cm once they had germinated. That’s not necessary – but I wasn’t sure on the viability of the seed as they were a bit old. Turned out their was nothing wrong with the seed, so we got lots!

We ate plenty of young, fresh beans in their early stages and then let the rest dry out on the bush until they were 90-100% mature. You can see the leaves below left starting to yellow and brown off. Ideally you want to leave the beans on the bush until you can shake the pods and here the beans rattling inside.

We left them in the ground as long as possible, but had to pull them to get the winter garlic crop planted, so some of the beans were more purple than I was planning. But not to worry – I simply left them in an airy brown box for a few weeks inside to dry out thoroughly before shelling them.

Halfway through the harvest

For a small batch like this you could simply pop them into a pillow case and bash it around to shell the majority of them quickly. Or, like me you can do them one by one each night as a form of mediation to slow my busy brain down over a few evenings.

The next thing to do is a grading process to make sure there are no rotten or mouldy culprits slipping through. We ended up having a pile for the chooks and a small bowl for eating right now – these ones were cracked or slightly damaged, but will still taste delicious.

And then into a glass jar they go for winter soups and stews.

Wondering whether it’s not worth your time to grow and dry your beans? Well considering how cheap organic beans are to buy from the local shop, it doesn’t really make sense. However it *is* worth your time if you’re interested in learning new skills and having beans that don’t take as long to cook and knowing where your food comes from. All the good things. Would we do it again? Absolutely – next season we’re thinking of growing the borlotti bean for drying as it’s larger size appeals to us.

Here’s to many wintery bowls of bean soup and stew!

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