Open Day this Sunday 13th April, PDC is nearing, new permaculture magazine launched, strawbale symposium and more...
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Food Forest News: April 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 - this Sunday 13th April

Food Forest Open Day
We hope some of you will take the opportunity to see The Food Forest permaculture farm and learning centre next Sunday 13 April. The property recently won the 2013 Barossa Regional Food Award and is dripping with fruit, nuts and vegetables, eggs, cider and wine.

The Day starts with a morning session on building with straw bales, and features a builder, an architect and an engineer who specialise in strawbale construction to lead visitors around our display buildings.

In the afternoon, Permaculture design will be explained and visitors will learn about drought-hardy orchards, organic gardening, food self,sufficiency, how to keep chooks in the suburbs and other sustainable living tricks.

The address is: 80 Clifford Rd, Hillier. Phone 8522 6450.

Upcoming workshops

Permaculture Design Certificate Course

A couple of spots are still available in this internationally recognised course featuring co-originator of the permaculture concept, David Holmgren, who will teach in the opening 5-day block. Starts 24 April.

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

Adventurous couple for cosy Cottage?

Cosy CottageThis strawbale hut will be one of the onsite accommodation options for participants in the upcoming Permaculture Design Course. Primitive but delightfully secluded (double bed but no co-located bathroom).

Let Annemarie know if you may be interested.

Wonderful wines released

Our 2013 wines are to be released over the next few weeks and they are tipped to go fast; certainly the 2013 Gawler River Shiraz and 'Tempramento' went like hot cakes at the farmers market last Sunday.

The Gawler River '13 is a big, fruit-driven Barossa style red which is settling down quickly and deserves to be consumed with a substantial meal. The 'Tempramento' (Tempranillo-Shiraz) is lighter and ready to improve your afternoons on the verandah solving the problems of the world.

Others include a sophisticated Mataro and a monstrous Red made from David Box's black Shiraz, grown in a hidden valley on the edge of the outback past Jamestown. The grapes had so much body David reckoned you should be able to walk on the cap during the primary ferment. The unfortunate yeast gave up the battle when the alcohol percentage cruised through 16% and presented us with a rich, black wine with some retained sweetness. It is brilliant with a big meal and totally sensational with cheese dessert or dried fruit. It is this year’s Ladybird!

Permaculture magazine launched

Pip Magazine’s aim is to inspire people to live more simply, yet more richly, by practising permaculture in all its many forms, and to do this by sharing stories, ideas and inspiration about living using permaculture principles.

It is independently published by NSW journalist, editor and photographer Robyn Rosenfeldt who came up with the idea of Pip while completing a permaculture design course some years ago.

It’s been ten years since Australia had its own permaculture magazine and it is great to see that the community was keen to help fund the start up of Pip through the crowd-funding platform Pozible.

The first issue’s 'up-close' feature is with David Holmgren, the co-founder of permaculture who discusses food security and the ethos behind permaculture. 

Pip will be published twice a year and will be available at select newsagents and retail outlets and available online at

For enquires contact Robyn Rosenfeldt. Phone: 0408375991 Email:

Strawbale Building Symposium: Friday 5th to Sunday 7th September 2014

strawbale groupAn international conference on building with strawbales is to be hosted by AUSBALE in Adelaide, Friday 5th to Sunday 7th September 2014. Join overseas, interstate and local presenters covering a variety of sustainable and strawbale building techniques in a purpose-built strawbale Church Hall in Ferryden Park, Adelaide.

A big programme of presentations will be capped-off with a tour of strawbale buildings on the on Sunday.

Full details will be available soon on and the Ausbale Facebook page.

Those wishing to present a 45 minute paper or 15 minute session may contact:
Lance Kairl: | 08 8555 4223
or Bohdan Dorniak: | 08 83448170

Cottage reticulated

A stray block of concrete and a surplus tank have been combined to provide gravity-fed rainwater to the remote strawbale cottage built in our last strawbale building course. The impressive block of concrete was a base for a motor that provided power the farm early in the last century and had been 'in the way' for 50 years.

Once moved to Cosy Cottage, it became part of a new tank stand, elevating the poly tank as high as possible under the gutter. WWOOFer Rob Harris even has plans for an outdoor shower!

Composting season

With vintage complete, pistachio and walnut dehulling over and the poultry run cleaned-out, we have mountains of organic matter to compost. Early Autumn is still warm and evaporation levels have dropped so it is time to build our biggest heap of the year.

The key to composting is to get the ratio of Carbon to Nitrogen in the layers of organic material to about 30:1, and to wet the heap, layer by layer. We add a little mature compost every few layers to inoculate the new heap with some of the billions of microorganisms that will turn it into beautiful dark compost. Turning and re-wetting the heap every 2 weeks is a commendable aspiration, rarely met, but produces a good product in 2 months.

Here's a link to an exhaustive Carbon:Nitrogen list of materials which may help in building your heap:

For the complete composting manual see Tim Marshall's excellent book:

Wild Quince - Cydonia sp

It goes a bright shiny yellow when ripe, is not hairy and is easy to peel. It can be used for all the usual quincey things, jelly, paste wine, fruit pies, cordial, jam and liqueur. See wikipedia for hints.

Our nursery will be doing propagation trials on 'the wild one' this year!

Fig trees

figs in nurseryThe nursery is bulging with fig trees looking for new homes. Quite uncommon varieties dominate our selection. Read more about figs here...

We sell them at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market on alternate Sundays or you can contact us for trees.

Agroforestry paddock hits its straps

Agroforestry is a form of agriculture in which woody plants are combined with agricultural elements such as pastures, crops and animals. It has inbuilt efficiencies in terms of maximising water and nutrient use, shade, weed control, minimisation of tillage, simultaneous use of space and deciduous character.

This season our little demo paddock has produced hay for storage and out of season feeding, geese (nesting and forage) and the sheep are currently getting fat on the honey locust beans that clatter to the ground.

Honey locust - Gleditsia tricanthos (inermis)

honey locustHoney locust is a deciduous legume now found in most continents and with a wide range of adaptation from the icy climate of Siberia to the sunburned Adelaide Plain. It produces pods up to 30cm long with one seam bearing a sweet but resinous pulp and the other filled with protein-rich seeds.

The pods and foliage are loved by ruminants for their high energy and digestibility. Humans have used the seeds for food and fermented the pods for an alcoholic beverage. Tolerant of salty and alkaline soils, cold and being a deciduous tree, the Honey Locust has much to offer farms as an agroforestry species. It can live for 150 years and grow to a great size in favourable conditions.

The jury is out on whether it is a Nitrogen fixer but it seems to commonly produce by-products of Nitrogenase, indicating some capacity to accumulate N. If you are going to plant some be sure to get thornless cultivars!
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