Permaculture Consult – part 1: What’s Important To Us & What Do We Want To Achieve?

On Wednesday Beck & Mark from Cydonia Permaculture came up and did a Permaculture Consult. This means we walked all over the property together checking out the soil, the plants, animals, structures, the lie of the land and other features. They asked lots of questions, particularly about what we wanted to achieve and what was important to us.

Then we brainstormed all the different ideas that could work in our particular situation based on what we want to achieve and permaculture design principles. Beck drew some pictures. We scribbled on the plan. Went back outside and rechecked a few different things. Came back and wrote them all down.

After three and a half hours we have a list that is seven pages long (and still growing) of all the things we could do! Next step is to prioritise and work out what is the most important things are. There will be a flurry of information exchange in the next few weeks via email and lots more questions asked.

So what is important to us and what do we wanted to achieve? The list we came up with is as follows, not in order of importance:

  • Living as sustainably as possible with as little intensive work as possible, as I’m the full time carer for 3 special needs boys and part time to my chronically ill husband, so time is something I have little of
  • Growing as much of our own food as possible, especially fruit, veggies, eggs and chooks. Possibly a house-cow or a goat, bees and ducks. Maybe even grain crops. Growing stock fodder thus reducing the amount we’ll have to buy in
  • Maximising the amazing south facing views from the house
  • Not mowing or whipper-snipping to keep the grass down every few weeks. Our property is set out much like one of those English Manors or Parklands with trees dotted around the place and lots and lots of lawn
  • Improving the soil. Making it less boggy in places. Using the natural bogginess in some way (it’s so wet and muddy here I’m sure we could establish our own wetlands! You sink into the soil almost everywhere in the backyard or step into large puddles of water pooling all over the place). Need good drainage where we don’t want it boggy
  • Retreat spaces throughout the garden to sit and enjoy. Play equipment for the boys integrated within the garden spaces, not standing out like a sore thumb, using existing structures or making new ones that are also part of something else

 

·

Dreams

For as long as I can remember it has been my dream to live on acreage and have our own sustainable farm. Finally we are doing it, and although our acreage is only the grand total of two, we are surrounded by farms in North East Victoria, and it is as good a place as any to start living those dreams.

Although greatly inspired by Matthew Evans in the first series of ‘Gourmet Farmer’ we won’t be moving anywhere near as fast! Us Gardners live life at a much slower pace – with two kids on the Autism Spectrum and a chronically ill husband, we don’t move fast, quite simply, we can’t. And although like Matthew Evans we love eating good food and enjoy cooking, we’re not trained chefs, nor do we have a European background, so unfortunately, we won’t be making our own prosciutto or chorizo sausages and other exotic food products for a while.

We bought the ‘Gourmet Farmer’ DVD series recently – we finally managed to sit down and watch the last episode of the last series and Xav said after watching it, “I want to do that.” I’m not sure I quite want to do what Matthew Evans is doing to that degree, but there were certainly a great many aspects of it that appealed. So now we are working our way slowly through the ‘Gourmet Farmer’ DVDs and being greatly inspired. Matthew is doing what we are setting out to do, although on a significantly larger scale. He has 17 acres, we have 2!

One of the reasons we moved to the country was to grow our own food and to live a more sustainable lifestyle. True, we could have just as easily done this in the suburbs, as others have done and are doing already, except for us there were other reasons, including mental and physical health. ‘The Good Life’ is another television series that inspired us, especially the very first episode when Tom realised how dissatisfied he was with his current life. We so know that feeling. We knew that living int he suburbs was slowly sucking the life from us, suffocating us and strangling us and we knew that we were not living the life we so much wanted to be living.

There are some major differences between us, Matthew Evans and Tom and Barbara. They have no kids, more money, lotsa contacts and the chef skill for a start! While we have three boys aged 7, 10 and 12 and needed a loan from Tim’s mum to be able to buy our own place. Then there’s the definite lack of chef skill, knowledge of all things preserving or the equipment to do it with – thank goodness for recipe books and the internet! And we’ve moved to a place where we know no-one, so we have no contacts, no mates or friends. Guess we’re just gonna have to get off our butts and make some new ones. Then there’s the boys on the Autism Spectrum and the chronically ill husband. Hmmmm. As if life wasn’t interesting enough!

So as much as both ‘Gourmet Farmer’ and ‘The Good Life’ have inspired, and even helped, we aren’t them. Our journey will be different, just as everybody’s is. I just hope that in some way, we’ll be able to inspire others as we muddle our way through to achieving our dreams on a limited budget, with limited time and energy and a whole lot of new skills to learn. What an amazing life we have!