Open Day (Sun April 12th), 2014 wines released, David Holmgren to speak at Bushfire strategy forum (Fri April 24th), International Permaculture Conference & Convergence and more...
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Food Forest

Food Forest News: April 2015

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.
Permaculture Design Certificate

Open Day Sunday April 12th

See how you can make your home into a powerhouse of productivity at our Open Day on Sunday 12 April. Building with strawbales, supplying your own power, capturing your rainwater and using wastewater for irrigation, growing your own fruit and vegetables, keeping chooks and making your own compost are just the beginning.

The day is divided into a morning session on strawbale construction and sustainable building design and the afternoon concentrates on growing food and fibre. Why not come for both! Details...

Short Courses

Our upcoming Permaculture Design Certificate course is fully booked as of some weeks ago, but there are still some places in our short courses:
Permaculture Design Certificate

Two homes from one!

The original homestead on our land was constructed in 1840 by the Lock family and successively built-onto by three generations of Hilliers. The place was decomposing under the attacks of salt-damp and termites when we (the Brookmans) arrived in 1986. The dark, old, heritage cottage was made liveable but waited 14 years for the addition of a spacious, light kitchen-living room and civilised bathroom.

15 years on and with the return from New Zealand of Tom Brookman (with partner Abby Young) to work in Gawler, the old part of the house has been re-imagined, providing two discrete, comfortable, sustainable homes under one roof. A novel sheltered outdoor entertainment area has added useful space and rainwater catchment without compromising solar access. Rainwater storage has been doubled and is reticulated to both house and garden.

Niche design

With an ongoing profusion of WWOOFers (willing workers on organic farms) and changes to the homestead to fit in an extra family, the digitisation of all graphic processes has freed a corner of Annemarie's office to become the 'quietly watch some ed media' or 'veg-out in front of the telly' space. 

Frequent WWOOFer from the UK, Rob Harris, did some marvellous carpentry to create a space with storage and style.

2014 Vintage wines released

This tiny (but largest ever) vintage saw wonderful quality in the certified organic grapes from our home block, Terry Markou's Gawler River block and David Box's amazing hidden valley vineyard on the edge of the outback.

The wines were made with the yeasts occurring in the vineyards, with back-up from naturally occurring yeasts with known tolerance to high temperatures and alcohol. No preservatives were added until bottling, when a very small amount was added to ensure keeping quality and prevent malolactic fermentation in the bottle; typically less than 40 parts per million. Slightly higher levels are used in the whites as they don't have the level of natural tannins protecting them from oxidation during the winemaking process. 

See our website for prices and deals.

Home Block Tempranillo  
Home Block Mataro
Home Block Shiraz  
Gawler River Shiraz-Merlot 
Gawler River Shiraz
Gawler River Merlot
Gawler River Sauvignon Blanc
Ladybird Shiraz

Bushfire strategy forum - Friday April 24th

A public bushfire resilience strategy forum is to be presented by Transition Gawler at 7pm on Friday 24 April at Hewett Community Centre, 24 Kingfisher Dv, Hewett, to support and educate residents on fire prevention and mitigation through a new set of design principles.

Keyno​te speaker David Holmgren has written publications about bushfire resilient landscapes and communities as well as building resilient homes and rural properties. He is best known as co-originator of Permaculture, which incorporates universal principles for site analysis and planning for fire. David will be teaching nearby at the Food Forest at the time of the forum. Other speakers include Helen Hennessy from South Australia’s CFS and Tony Fox from Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resources.

Register your interest in attending via email or the facebook page of Transition Gawler.

Climate change gets last laugh in pistachio harvest

Despite our best efforts to enhance the flowering and pollination of pistachios during last year's warm winter(and the appearance of a reasonable crop), we found at processing that well over 35% of the nuts had no kernels (the nuts floating in the water bath pictured above). However we got sufficient for the year ahead, so make sure you incorporate these fantastic little morsels of good health into your family menu. See our film for more info.

Permaculture Design Certificate

Jujube success

It is one of the favourite fruits in the world and has been used in Chinese and Indian medicine for thousands of years. It is remarkably effective in combating sore throats and bronchial conditions. Sometimes called 'Chinese date' or 'Red date' it has a taste and texture varying from almost appley to date-like, depending on its level of ripeness. Customers from many ethnic backgrounds pounce upon the jujubes we've been selling at the Adelaide Farmers Market with joy, saying they have missed the fruit so much since coming to Australia.

It is a beautifully architectural tree and is remarkably tolerant of heat, cold, poor quality water and a range of soils and bears its first small crops when only a year or two old. Quite hard to find in nurseries, it can sometimes be acquired at the public meetings of the SA Rare Fruit Society or from Perry's Nursery.

Permaculture Design Certificate

Fabulous firewood harvest

Being self sufficient for firewood to cook, heat water and warm the home is feasible on quite small properties and the Food Forest planted a small plantation of Red Gums in the opposite corner of the farm to the house for that purpose. Coppicing the trees means cutting them down to a short stump every 5-7 years and allowing them to shoot and re-grow. This produces wood that is easy to saw-up and is the right diameter for stoves.

A friend from Denmark, Martin Nielsen, took on the task of coppicing about trees on an area 20x15 metres recently and ended up stacking some 8 tonnes of fresh cut wood in a shed to cure for a year before use (green wood will use much of its calorific value in evaporating sap, so curing is important).

In our environment (420mm rainfall pa) we could produce well over 20 tonnes of seasoned firewood hectare per year. Read everything you need to know about farm forestry in Peter Bulman's brilliant book 'Farm Trees for the Adelaide Hills'.


Citrus on the way  

We have picked our first Clementines and Meyer lemons are not far away. To ensure that there is plenty of nutrition available for developing citrus, give them a feed of compost; they love Nitrogen so young compost is fine.

Keep weeds under control and look out for citrus leaf miner in new shoots (see pic above). It is becoming more prevalent in SA and can be discouraged by spraying trees with horticultural (summer oil) oil to deter the moth from laying new eggs. The oil won't kill the larvae inside the leaf so remove any infested growth. Spray first thing in the morning to avoid spraying beneficial insects which are less active at this time.

International Permaculture Conference & Convergence

The biennial International Permaculture Conference and Convergence will be held in the UK this September. 'IPCUK' promises to be comfortably the largest permaculture gathering ever held and is attracting fabulous speakers from around the world. Papers for the public conference in London are being assessed and the program for the Convergence (of PDC graduates), to be held at Gilwell Park already has presentations, discussions, films and field trips that we believe will accelerate the pace at which permaculture design is spreading through educational institutions, professions, trades and policies around the world. More details...

There is a wonderful 'crowd-funding' opportunity to help permaculturists from developing and low SES situations to attend IPCUK. Please consider helping them. 

A significant number of Australians will be there; Annemarie and Graham have offered a number of papers and will be joining field trips.


Earth Hour making an impact

Whilst some find the extinguishing of lights for an hour a brief and populist act, its impact on the population at large has been significant in terms of awareness-raising.

The Earth Hour group (part of Worldwide Fund for Nature) has worked hard to back up the call for action to slow climate change which poses an immediate and growing threat, particularly to highly developed species. Channel 10 threw resources into the 2015 Earth Hour project in SA with clips on the young people's show 'Totally Wild' and a program called 'Appetite for change' in which runner-up MasterChef, Lynton Tapp visits a range of farms, a brewery, a restaurant, Temple Bruer vineyard and Prof Leslie Hughes to see and hear about the devastating effect that climate change is having on farmers and the food supply chain AND what people can do about it. The doco used the Food Forest to show the steady decline of yields in pistachios due to global warming.

They also produced the Earth Hour Cookbook, 'Planet to Plate', with recipes from celebrity chefs interspersed with earth hour stories. You can buy them online.

PIP Magazine just gets better

Robyn Rosenfeldt's 'PIP' Australian permaculture magazine is publishing its 4th edition and it continues to produce more and more valuable articles, points of contact and wise commentary. Subscribe here.

Landscape architect on a quest

Portugese Landscape architect Eunice Neves (pictured with Graham Brookman and Corey Millison at the Adelaide Farmers Market) has been involved with permaculture for some years and became convinced that it has an essential place in her discipline.

Despite initial scepticism her academic mentor encouraged her to research the issue. She launched a crowd funding project to take her to key places in the home of permaculture, Australia, and has so far spent time with the Food Forest team, at David Holmgren's property and Kat Lavers' urban project in Melbourne; she'll make her way up the East coast. We are expecting a remarkable thesis to come out of her work.


Time to retire

The original dripper tape in the market garden has done service for 25 years and the sun, the heat and salt have taken their toll, with bursts around the inline drippers becoming more frequent. Time to go off to the recycler! Hopefully 25 years of development will make the new Netafim tube and Aries 2 litre per hour drippers unblockable and indestructible in a complete refit. The 0.9mm walled tape is made in Melbourne with drippers welded inside at 300mm intervals.

village greens

Food Art Fiesta

Gone are the days of children being told 'DON'T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!'. March was food-art month with Corey Millison at the Food Forest. He delighted and slightly terrified children (and adults) with his creations.

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