Towards the end of the first week of our Permaculture Design course in Tasmania, we had a day trip where we visited three very different sites to study where permaculture principles were applied. This is by no means an extensive coverage of these sites – you can write a book about each one – but just some of the highlights that stood out for me personally.
The Little Seed
Penny’s place, called The Little Seed, is a South facing 15-acre block near Franklin, with 12 acres under native vegetation – mostly massive trees and bushland. Penny has a beautiful eco-friendly house with amazing views over the Huon river through the large trees. What stood out for me is how well she has made a very difficult site work so well, and in particular how she works with the hard clay soil that is very similar to ours.
Highlights were how well her mature food forests were established to the point of providing a good yield with relatively low maintenance. Penny has chooks which are more closely controlled and Khaki Campbell ducks which free range in her food forest. Nick had a very insightful discussion with her about the use of chooks and ducks and which breeds are more suitable to this context.
I also learnt useful things about edging, no-dig food forest, irrigation, paths and she also told us about different types of propagation that she has used over the years. In particular, the style of edging and paths she used may be applicable in the Dreamland forest garden too.
Good Life Permaculture
Anton and Hannah’s place in North Hobart – the home of Good Life Permaculture – is a great living example of permaculture at work. They’re on at very steep block, but north facing with incredible views over Hobart and its waterways. With an adjacent block more recently added to their property, it was very interesting to see successional development in such vastly different stages. You can literally see before and after “images” side by side. A lot of their infrastructure work is on water and sun management on a steep sun-facing slope. Great integration of goats and managed chooks and they make good use of the natural habitats around them. Two things were very evident for me: they have put a lot of thought into successional planning and they are definitely not shy to put in incredible amounts of work! But as the developments mature, some areas are already producing good yield with very low maintenance.
Unfortunately I didn’t take more photos of the established food forest, as their implementation is quite extensive and it is good for studying the implementation thereof on a steep slope.
(Thank you to Lisa for some of the photos)
Hobart City Farm
Our last case study was at Hobart City Farm that grows vegetables at a larger scale for customers that order on-line and pick up their produce on a weekly basis. It was interesting to hear about the challenges and solutions that they apply. Although our goal at Dreamland is not at such a large scale, there are some good learnings, especially around crop planning and rotation that will do us good to apply.
I learnt so much from these three site visits, it will take up many pages even in summary bullet points! I have lists and lists of points in my notes – things to apply and many others to investigate.
Something I saw very practically from the first two sites is that you cannot just let chooks wildly free-range through edible forests and gardens with recently planted annual vegetables. They are obviously very useful, but where they “work” must be pretty tightly controlled. Moveable chicken fencing will have to be added to our budget.
One common theme was evident from all three these sites – we need to do much more thorough and regular journaling and log keeping.