Holmgren back to teach in our next PDC, Joel Salatin speaking in SA March 2nd, impacts of the recent heatwave, plumarines, naked sheep and a cooking challenge!
View this email in your browser

Food Forest News: January 2014

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 the newsletter you may well be subscribed… but if not, subscribe via our website.

Open Day and Short Course Dates for Autumn/Winter 2014

Holmgren returns to teach Permaculture Design in SA

Become skilled in the design of sustainable homes, gardens, towns and businesses through an amazing course that will give you a clear ethical framework for living and a set of principles that will enable design for permanent human occupation of the planet

Co-originator of the permaculture concept, David Holmgren will teach in the opening 5-day block of our upcoming Permaculture Design Certificate course. Earlybird price for the course closes March 21.
This unique opportunity to learn with one of the leading exponents and philosophers of permaculture gives you a chance to update your values and techniques or start your permaculture career at the cutting edge.

Find out more about David at

Super-integrated farmer Joel Salatin to speak in South Australia

Sunday March 2, 2014 

Supplying food to over 4000 families, Polyface Farm is a family owned, multi-generational, local-market farm and information source in the USA's Shenandoah Valley.

Inspirational farmer and 'agritainer' Joel Salatin has not only created unique ways of managing animals in a free range environment, he is handing a once destitute and now highly profitable farm business on to the next generation. He is accompanied by his son and daughter in law who now manage the farm, to provide a vision for the future of profitable family farming, based on soil care high productivity and direct sale to the regional community.

The full day, fully catered seminar is to be held in the Barossa Farmers Market Hall, corner Nuriootpa and Stockwell Roads, Angaston 9am-5.30pm, Sunday March 2nd. 
Joel has been brought to Australia a number of times by regenerative farming expert Darren Doherty and has helped farmers to reconfigure their operations. If you are concerned about the issues of farmer ageing, poor terms of trade and declining numbers of young people taking on wonderful opportunities of caring for landscapes & producing healthy food for communities you'll want to hear the answers to questions like:
  • How can unproductive land be regenerated into productive farmland?
  • How can young people enter farming and own their own land?
  • How can individuals compete successfully with corporate agricultural enterprises?
Get the answers and hear how Polyface Farm has developed the technology and markets for: Salad Bar Beef, Pigaerator Pork, Pastured Poultry (Eggs, Broilers, Turkeys), Forage-Based Rabbits, Forestry Products, Agri-tourism and more.

Click here to book your place. When registering, click on the 'community/partners' option to secure a 20% discount as a reader of The Food Forest’s newsletter, dropping the price of $195 (which includes a copy of Joel's new book 'Fields of Farmers') to $156.

Enquiries: Ph 0431 444 836   E:
(More info in the article 'Greener Pastures' featured in 'The Age' & 'The Sydney Morning Herald')

Growing with climate change - 
Presentation by Graham Brookman to the Rare Fruit Society, March 18, 2014

Food producing species traditionally relied upon by communities around the world will become unviable as global warming alters seasons, maximum and minimum temperature extremes and rainfall.

Graham Brookman will present an illustrated address to the Rare Fruit Society of SA at 7.45pm on March 18 at the Burnside Community Centre cnr Portrush and Greenhill Rds to explore Permaculture strategies for the ongoing occupation of the planet by human society. The meeting is open to visitors.

The Rare Fruit Society is a remarkable community organisation whose regular informative meetings attract over 300 members and which cares for a number of orchards preserving precious genetic material in different climatic areas of SA.

Climate records smashed as new year opens

Records set in Australia (and the World's) hottest year humans have ever experienced, were smashed from January 13-19 as Victoria, for instance, had its hottest four-day period on record for both maximum and average heat. Unprecedented numbers of bushfires also occurred across the country.

Rather than sitting in the shade and occasionally visiting water troughs for a drink during the long hot days, our geese desperately stayed at the troughs, trying to maintain body fluids. The same behaviour was noted in native species such as kangaroos.

Ecosystem in meltdown

Over 100,000 native bats died in in southern Qld's recent heat wave demonstrating how fine the tolerances are between discomfort and death, and how quickly the global ecosystem can be destroyed by global  warming.

For a punch by punch update on the demolition of species in Australasia, see Prof Lesley Hughes' lecture at

Pictured at right is Macquarie University's Prof Lesley Hughes

Pistachio peril

It has been the insidious rise of daily minimum temperatures that has had the largest effect on The Food Forest this season; all efforts to convince our pistachio trees that they should flower normally during spring last year failed. Like cherries and many other crops, pistachios need to accumulate chill hours during the winter to reduce a flowering inhibitor which builds up within the trees in early Autumn. But with 2013's record warm Autumn-Winter, there was inadequate chill and despite tricks like using sunscreen to cool the trees and natural oil emulsion to enhance flowering, it was down to about 10% of normal amongst the variety Sirora which accounts for most of our trees.

The picture above shows a bunch of nuts formed from one of the few buds that flowered on-time in October, a late flower in bloom in late January and most buds still locked up. We believe that it is urgent that governments form a task force to scour the globe for 'low-chill' plant species and cultivars and support their importation and passage through quarantine facilities.

Create a cooler suburb

Liz Hanna, a researcher at ANU, recently found that older suburbs in Canberra, with more trees, were up to 7°C cooler than newer, less leafy suburbs. So get planting! (for food and shelter).

Meanwhile, at The Food Forest Annemarie took some temperature readings on the third day of the recent heatwave and found that the bare earth temperature reached 77°C in the sun when the air temp in the shade was 46.2°C (115.2 Farenheit) . Under mulch in the market garden it was a comfortable 27.2°C.

Throw-over shade-cloth

During the recent record-breaking heatwave we used lengths of white 50% shade-cloth to simply throw over rows of heat susceptible vegetables. The partial shade and confinement of moisture reduces stress and improves growth and fruit quality significantly.

The images above show some of our pumpkins in the sun and under the shade-cloth.

Sunscreen trial

A certified organic sunscreen spray for plants that is made from white Kaolin clay has been tested at The Food Forest this summer.

Known as 'Surround' it has the added benefit of confusing some insect pests, which find leaf surfaces treated with the clay unsuitable for laying their eggs. Our Chardonnay grapes would have been severely burned in clear 46 degree weather but for the reflective layer.

Pine nut challenge cracked

Growing nut pines in our Mediterranean climate is easy but extracting the kernels from the nuts has been a major challenge for Australian producers. We've discovered that our electric pistachio cracker will do the job with minor adjustment and new separator screens.

Meanwhile WWOOFer Koen Kaljee has discovered that our manual pecan cracker will also crack pine nuts at a domestic level. He bought one for his hosts Bill and Lisa Mollison and according to Lisa, it was the first time that they had been given a tool that they didn't yet have! Check out our amazing on-line shop offers on general and special purpose household crackers.

Plumarines - real nectarine flavour and texture with a hint of plum

This naturally bred cross between a plum and a nectarine took shoppers at our Adelaide Showground Farmers Market stall by storm, selling out in the first hour of trade, and demonstrating the power of farmers markets to road-test new products.

Summer grazing for sheep

Our low-maintenance Wiltipoll sheep have lost every trace of their winter wool coats and have been shifted to the agroforestry paddock where they graze the stubble of a wheat crop and wireweed and gobble up fallen pods from the honey locust trees. They would do active damage to vine and tree crops if we left them in the orchard area during summer.

The images above show Heckle without her woollen coat on the left, and all rugged up for the cold winter nights on the right.

River Repair success

The monster erosion hole in the south bank of Gawler River that was repaired last April has withstood its first winter of river flows and the 2600 tube stock plants established on the fill have prospered, setting lots of seed to wash down the river in future floods and help with revegetation downstream. Above are a before and after (8 months later) shot to show what a determined community can do! For a 'during' photo, check out our May 2013 newsletter.

GRRR (Gawler River Riparian Restoration group) will cross to the North bank this year to create a picnic area and start on-cliff restoration in their bid to bring both banks back to a pre-European vegetation community.

Native food - Chef challenge

The Wild Orange (Capparis mitchellii) is the platypus of the plant world, bearing a fruit that looks like it escaped from the stone-age, has flesh like an avocado, tastes and smells like passionfruit and has pips like Wasabi.

We are interested in supplying adventurous chefs with some fruit this season to see what dishes can be created with these ancient fruit.

Contact us via if you are interested.

The climate-adapted home

As a journalist noted having visited us during the recent heatwave: 'At The Food Forest they’ve extended the homestead using passive solar design and a fusion of strawbale, massive rock and highly insulated galvanised iron to create a light, spacious and sustainable living space. It’s put to the test on this stifling 45-degree day, and barely any power is used, as a quiet ceiling fan above our head keeps us cool.'

Our 'Building with Strawbales' weekend workshop occurs on June 7 & 8. Tutors include SA’s most experienced straw-bale architect, builder and engineer and both theory and practice are covered.
Copyright © 2014 The Food Forest, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences