Open Day this Sunday! (April 10th), Bill Mollison becomes an Honorary Doctor of Science, another PDC in November, vineyard expansion, new farmers market in Gawler and more...
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Food Forest

Food Forest News: April 2016

Welcome to the Food Forest E-newsletter: it's about self reliance, new design tricks and good things that are happening in our community. If you received this newsletter you may well be subscribed… but if not, subscribe via our website.

Short courses

Open Day: next Sunday 10th April

See how you can make your home into a powerhouse of productivity using permaculture design. Supplying your own power and selling excess to the grid, capturing your rainwater, growing your own organic fruit and vegetables, keeping chooks and making your own compost are just the beginning. 

The morning session is on building with strawbales, which is a great way to fight climate change and live comfortably. There will be a builder, an architect and an engineer who specialise in strawbale construction to lead visitors around the display buildings.

In the afternoon, Permaculture will be explained and visitors will learn about energy efficient buildings, waster water systems, rainwater capture, drought-hardy orchards, organic gardening and compost making, food preservation and self sufficiency.  

Bill Mollison recognised by University community

Permaculture co-creator Bill Mollison was recently awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science by Central Queensland University for his outstanding contribution to Science through the development of the platform of sustainable ethics and design provided by Permaculture.

Bill has been recognised publicly through the global Right Livelihood Award (often regarded as a Swedish equivalent of the Nobel Prize), the Australian Outstanding Achiever and the Russian Vavilov Medal for contributions to Agricultural Science.

The award Hon DSc was presented by the Provost of Central Queensland University Hillary Winchester and accepted by the Director of the Permaculture Research Institute, Geoff Lawton, on Bill's behalf due to Bill's ill health. Geoff said the new university programs were a welcome development and would enable far more permaculture research to take place around the world.

Adelaide base for worldwide university studies in permaculture

SA Premier Jay Weatherill launched World's first fully accredited university program in Permaculture at 'The Joinery' on 4 March. The Premier said he was delighted that Adelaide had been chosen, as permaculture is a perfect fit with South Australia's aim for zero carbon emissions, its position as a clean, green producer of fine foods and its aim to punch above its weight in higher education.

The Graduate Certificate in Permaculture Design is fully subscribed for 2016 with 50 students from around the world taking advantage of CQ Uni's powerful on-line teaching system and intensive face-to-face teaching blocks to be offered in Australia and Asia.

Conservation Council backs permaculture learning development

In welcoming the standing-room-only crowd to the launch of Graduate programs in Permaculture, at Conservation SA's refurbished HQ, 'The Joinery', Chief Executive Craig Wilkins pointed to the worldwide growth and growth of the permaculture movement and applauded CQUni for taking the discipline to a new level.

French WWOOFers excel!

Harvest is a testing time for everyone and this year we had early fig picking crashing into vintage and vintage superimposing itself on the pistachio harvest. True desperation occurs when the fermenters that are needed for the freshly harvested grapes still have last year's wine in them! With everything early we needed a miracle to save us. It came in the form of 2 French WWOOFers who worked like Trojans and cooked like angels. They bottled last year's vintage in double-quick time and saved the day. Ana and Amy are pictured with permanent Food Forester Abby Young.

Vintage 2016 - Early and very good 

Australia had its hottest spring and second hottest November on record in 2015 and proceeded to have a hot, dry summer with SA collecting just a couple of useful falls of rain. Intense fruit colour and flavour have been the result, both for stone-fruit and grapes. A magnificently aromatic Sauvignon blanc and some gorgeous reds are already into their secondary ferment and promise great drinking next year.

Your garden in Autumn

It is tempting to ease off in the garden now that watering is less urgent but there's plenty to do. Cabbage White Butterflies are becoming less frequent but their perfectly green larvae do progressively more damage as they fatten. 'Manual' control, predatory creatures and Dipel sprays all control them. However now is the time to get brassicas in the ground... kale, cauliflower and broccoli. Do successive plantings of seedlings about a fortnight apart to give continuity of supply.


You can boost garden productivity by sneaking fast growers in between rows of slow growers: eg put Bok Choi in between Broccoli. The Bok Choi (to the right) is ready to be harvested now, before the Broccoli shades them out.

Basil all year

As your basil grinds to a halt with cooler weather, it is worth making some bulk pesto. We often only use basil leaves, oil and nuts and leave out the garlic and cheese. Freeze it in small portions which can be brought out in the cool months. Add cheese and garlic when thawed out. 

Thousandth tyre removed from river

The little community group GRRR (Gawler River Riparian Restoration) celebrated its removal of the thousandth tyre from the bed of the river last month. Some of the large loader tyres dumped in the river illegally over the years weighed-in at quarter of a tonne. Whilst this only represents the tyres from one kilometre of the Gawler River's 40km course to the sea, it is a start.

Light Council and Mechanical Vegetation Solutions are thanked for their financial and physical help with the work; now we can seriously get on with revegetation of the area.

Rapid response fire-unit for community doubles as water mover

The SA Government's support for community members and groups in providing bushfire control equipment has been realised in the area surrounding The Food Forest, where a mobile fire unit is to be garaged. The unit will provide rapid local response to local fire threats and can be used by licensed people from the neighbourhood in addition to Food Forest staff.

The unit can also function for tree watering and for moving large volumes of water from storage to storage.

Automatic weather station logs key info

A solar powered Davis weather station is now logging key data at The Food Forest which will help determine the effects of climate change and drive irrigation strategies. It will also give accurate information about accumulation of chill units which are so critical for pistachio flowering.

The basic data is being logged onto the Wunderground Meteorology website so you can see what blazing heat/ freezing cold we may be experiencing in real time.

Second permaculture design course for 2016

The Food Forest will run a Permaculture Design Certificate course in November 2016, partly as a segment of the Graduate Certificate in Permaculture Design and partly for the applicants for the April PDC who could not be fitted into the fully subscribed course (as well as new applicants!). David Holmgren will be one of the key tutors.

Nut dryer triples processing pace of record pistachio crop

A new bin-style dryer made for village-scale processing in Greece has beefed-up the previous limiting link in the processing of our pistachios. The machine is extremely flexible in use of 1 or 2 bins for the efficient drying of smaller or larger loads and handles a maximum of over a tonne of dehulled nuts. Without it we would have been overwhelmed by the bumper crop.

Instant Shadehouse

With a hot summer in store and large numbers of young grapevines in bags a 7x13metre shadehouse was required quickly.

We had a rectangular length of 50% shadecloth made up by JA Grigson and Co and elected to build a quick framework of 50mm rural Poly pipe which fits neatly over star pickets (droppers) bashed into the ground. It essentially took a day to construct - mainly thanks to 2 German permaculturists that were visiting us and jumped onto the job.

Vineyard expansion targets climate-change-adapted varieties

Having sold out of our wines within 12 months of release virtually every year for a decade, we have bitten the bullet and are in the process of more than doubling the size of the vineyard. We have found that Mourvedre (Mataro) is very heat tolerant and is popular as a light varietal summer wine whilst we have made heavier reds with Tempranillo. We will certainly not abandon Shiraz but David Bruer of Temple Bruer Wines projects that it will become unviable as a variety for the Adelaide Plain in well under 25 years. Vermentino, from Spain, has caught our eye as a heat hardy white.

Geese to 'Fat Goose' 

36 selected breeding geese have been shipped to SA's Riverland to help manage the inter-row area of a certified organic, permaculture citrus grove. The property, known as Fat Goose Fruits, is owned by Humphrey Howie and Michelle Medhurst. Like The Food Forest, their farm now has a large fox-proof area.

New farmers market for Gawler

Some 3000 people attended the opening of the Gawler Farmers Market a few weeks ago and were surprised by the wide variety and excellent quality of produce on sale.

Good numbers have joined as members, who receive a 10% discount on all items purchased. The Food Forest attends Gawler on the same weekends as it is at the Adelaide Showground. The Gawler Farmers market is every Saturday from 8am-12noon at the Gawler Visitor Information Centre car park (the corner of Murray St and Lyndoch Rd, Gawler).

Traditional knotting and plaiting workshop

Food Forest stalwart Corey Millison recently led a fascinating master-class on knotting and plaiting, to make useful and decorative items and including the incorporation of semi-precious stones and items of special significance into pendants and bangles .

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