PDCs in November 2016 and April 2017, Geoff Lawton visits The Food Forest, fig trees available, Oz Permaculture Convergence in Perth (Oct 2-5, 2016) and our nutcrackers are back!
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Food Forest

Food Forest News: July 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.

Upcoming events

  • Open Day - Sunday 25 Sept 2016
    10am-1pm: Info Session on Building with Strawbales
    2pm-5pm: Property Tour & Permaculture Info
    Don't miss this opportunity to see the whole Food Forest and get a taste of what the public workshops can promise you and your property

Workshops in October 2016

Plus our Permaculture Design Certificate - Nov 2016 & April/May 2017

Intensive format Permaculture Design Certificate Course in November 2016

David Holmgren will again be a key teacher in the 10 day PDC, November 7-11 & 14-18.

The alternative format for this course is to better suit students from overseas and interstate and those who want to 'hit it hard'. The program will include the same field trips and practical activities that are a hallmark of the Food Forest course but the period for undertaking major design projects will be compressed within the 12 day course envelope.

A number of CQUniversity students undertaking their 'Graduate Certificate in Permaculture Design' will join us from around Australia, promising a terrifically diverse bunch of participants with lots of energy.

In advance of the course we are offering the one-day intensive 'Introduction to Permaculture' workshop on October 9th. It is free for those people fully paid-up for the PDC. This is not compulsory but it will be of advantage, particularly to those who are fairly new to the concept or have not done a lot of reading about the design system. Participants in the Intro workshop who go on to sign-up for the PDC will be credited with the cost of the Intro.

Rare books free online

  • Tree Crops (PDF) - The extraordinary information derived from the travels of J Russell Smith who documented tree cropping systems on many continents and suggested the way toward a permanent agricultural system
  • Agroforestry for Natural Resource Management - Australia's manual on growing trees for timber and fuel. It is pitched at modest sized properties and is ideal for planning farm forests and agroforestry projects from both physical and financial perspectives. Authored by leading teachers and practitioners including Ian Nuberg and Rowan Reid. The book is available to read online and hard copies can be bought from Rowan Reid by emailing him at

Geoff Lawton and Graham Brookman in Food Forest discussion

Permaculture Pioneer and director of the Permaculture Research Institute, Geoff Lawton, and his wife Nadia (with her movie camera) visited The Food Forest to make a short video about commercial-scale permaculture using multi-layer planting and climate-change-ready species. Geoff and Nadia pack a lot into 7 minutes... come along for the ride at

Lengthening days - time to plant trees!

Don't wait till nursery trees start shooting. Root systems start growing almost 2 months before budburst so plant now. Remember that weed competition is the killer of many young trees. Mulch an area around newly planted trees preferably with a radius of more than half a metre. To get trees in the ground quickly we find the use of sisal mulch mats and tree guards for small plants works well, particularly if there are rabbits in the environment.

For a demo of planting and written hints see The Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery website.

Fruit trees available

The Food Forest has several hundred fig trees for sale. They include traditional varieties like Cape White, Black and White Genoa, others from the CSIRO collection Deanna, Celeste, Persian Prolific, Archipal, Tena, Preston and more.

Price is significantly discounted for orders of 10 trees or more. Standard price for newsletter readers is $15.

Small numbers of pre-ordered trees can be picked up from The Food Forest stall at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market. Read more info about figs here

Unique grazers - geese for your property

Why would you want geese? They are specialist grazers, particularly loving grasses, even couch and kikuyu. They are compatible with established fruit trees and are fascinating flocking birds with a great work ethic. They breed well and need no housing... and their eggs are great for cooking.

However they are susceptible to night time fox attack so they need fox proof fencing or a secure yard/shed for nights. They eat lots, so if you wouldn't have enough grass to feed a sheep, don't get a pair of geese.

Our geese will be nesting in a week or so and the youngsters will be available early next year... price approx $50 each. If you are interested, please email us.

Marshmallow - a weed or a wonder

The deep taproot of the marshmallow Althaea officinalis, can frustrate people weeding their garden but one should remember that the seeds, flowers and leaves have traditionally been added to salads or steamed as a vegetable, in many cultures.

The visiting Afghani women pictured above were delighted with our offer to share our marshmallows! The root can be powdered and the whole plant has traditionally been used as a remedy for bronchitis and coughs. For farmers and gardeners worried about its competitiveness, be aware that a natural rust disease usually attacks marshmallow in autumn and particularly in spring, making it a much less scary 'weed' than it first seems. 

Penfold opens Howling Dingo vineyard

Sustainable Viticulture research scientist Chris Penfold opened the Food Forest's youngest vineyard recently. He was delighted to be present for the birth of a new certified-organic planting and applauded The Food Forest for the project to produce climate-change-ready, ultra-low preservative, vegan-friendly wines. The 900 vines are largely to be of varieties tolerant to extreme heat. Some are still to be grafted to Portuguese varieties from the Doura Valley which regularly experiences 50 degrees C; the rest are largely Spanish varieties.

A challenge for organic growers is the choice of posts for vine trellises. Permapine contains arsenic, native pine is too brittle, recycled plastic has proven unreliable and steel involves an environmentally expensive production and transport process. For the end-assemblies we chose a relatively new product called Ecopine and gained approval for its use from NASAA, our organic certifier. For the intermediate posts, inside the vineyard, we chose the extremely strong Ecotrellis high tensile steel tube product that is durable, light and copes well in mechanised vineyards.

One of the features of Ecotrellis posts is the rolled top which allows bird nets to run smoothly over them. When the wind blows over them, the tops create an eerie howling sound that moves around the vineyard with each wind gust, giving the impression that there could be a pack of hungry dingoes moving in on you. Quite disconcerting when you are pruning alone at nightfall!

Wireless shocks old barn

A heritage barn built by Murray Hillier and other local farmers at the start of the second World War has been used as the Learning Centre at The Food Forest since the 90's.

It got a real shock recently when it was equipped with a little aerial that links it to the whole world; from reading the weather on the adjacent hill to the atmospheric CO2 level in Hawaii (407 ppm!), it is available in the learning precinct through a series of aerials that receive high speed broadband from a mast in the Adelaide Hills and distribute it to 3 key buildings around The Food Forest.

The key connection was installed by NuSkope at a cost of less than 30% of the Telstra price and 'on-campus' links were created by MIMP. Happy to share details.

Oz Permaculture Convergence

The Australasian Permaculture Convergence (APC13) will be held in Perth from October 2-5, 2016 at the gorgeous Swanleigh Conference Centre, at Middle Swan (Perth).

A terrific program has been organised, including sessions with the founder of the Transition Town movement Rob Hopkins. Immediately following the Convergence, there will be tours and workshops.

Local fire-fighting capacity boosted

Community groups and farmers will be able to upgrade their fire-fighting capabilities as a result receiving grants from the SA Regional Community Capability Fund.

Emergency Services Minister Peter Malinauskas and local MP Tony Piccolo (in the ute) met with grant recipients Graham Brookman and Tony Fotheringham (right). Graham emphasised that good design of property and infrastructure is a key ingredient in avoiding fire damage.

Seville Oranges for the World's best marmalade

These large, easy-to-grow oranges originally from Spain have been imported to Scotland for hundreds of years to make the Planet's most incredible marmalade. Get your supply from our stall at the Adelaide or Gawler Farmers market, complete with an easy recipe.

Certified organic, ultra-low preservative, vegan friendly and even tastes good!

2015 vintage Food Forest wines released so far include Home Block Shiraz, Finniss River Shiraz and Finniss River Tempranillo.

Prices are: bottle $12.50, half dozen $62.50, dozen $112.50. Boxes can be ordered via email

Wine is available at the Adelaide Showground and Gawler Farmers Markets each fortnight. Next Gawler Farmers Market dates are August 6th and 20th and Adelaide Showgrounds market dates: August 7th and 21st.

Feature permaculture movie 'Design forLife'

An hour long movie about Permaculture design and the creation and management of The Food Forest was made by award-winning film maker Sam Collins and is available via our website. There is a trailer on the shopping page so you can try before you buy.

The DVD is rich with practical images and includes punchy comment from David Holmgren; it also contains a 30 minute virtual tour of the Food Forest in which the management of each enterprise is explained. The DVD is divided into chapters for easy use by educators.

A cracker for every nut

If you've got a supply of nuts in-shell, give thanks, because the shell contains antioxidants protecting the nuts from rancidity. And we sell specialised nut crackers that will handle walnuts, pecans, hazels and macadamias like a breeze.

Organic, local, natural, free range, hormone free?

It’s all very confusing, so how exactly do we source fresh, sustainable food?

Gawler Community Radio’s Marilyn Simpson, talks to Graham Brookman to find out more about the practicalities of sustainable food culture and the role of Food Rescue organisations, Natural Resource Centres, Community Gardens, Land-share and more.
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