Saturday, November 5, 2011

We have a bit of a plan... by Pearl

You may recall our recent discussion around what we are actually going to do with our 7 acres. So this morn we 4 rolled out of our beds, a little bit excited, and breakfasted on pikelets and buttery pears sitting in the grass on our land in the sun while awaiting our site analysis and mini-consult with local permaculture trainer John Champagne.

We know that we want to grow enough food for ourselves and our visiting friends and family and that maybe we want to extend into some kind of semi-commercial venture in the future - olives? pomegranates? goats cheese? heirloom pumpkins? But right now we have a slopey block with no water and a bit of a weed problem. We also have two young children and not much money. Our experience of gardening to date has involved urban and suburban food growing and while we know you can do some truly amazing things with a suburban block, 7 acres provides a whole new array of possibilities.

Some books that have influenced our thinking and opened our minds to what's possible are The Earth User's Guide to Permaculture by Rosemary Morrow and Smart Permaculture Design by Jenny Allen. While an array of possibilities should equate to pure excitement I'd be lying if I didn't admit to some anxiety. It's odd how anxiety-inducing an array of possibilities can be (especially in a world that tells us that Choice is King), but maybe it's just a sign of my privilege, given how truly horrible a lack of possibility really is.

We talked with John about our ideas and about what we want to achieve, we wandered around the block and mentioned what we had observed so far. And within 2 hours he had drawn up the beginnings of a plan. It's a broad plan but it's a plan and frankly, it feels good.

For now we will be focussing on excavation. Far out. Big machine cutting into the earth and moving it around in order that we can build a house and garden that allows us to live more gently on the earth. Not entirely sure what I think of this, but maybe it's one of those things that requires more pragmatism, less thinking especially given our ex-dairy farm is far from being an unadulterated landscape. John must have noticed our soft city sensibilities warning us that the excavation would be somewhat traumatic and that the earth would indeed shake. Goodness. So we'll be sketching a little plan of what we want - driveway, studio site, house site, pond and a bit of extra flat-ness to aid in our Zone 1 veg patch and orchard and hoping against hope that the excavators can do it within our meagre budget. There'll be quite a bit of bush regeneration occurring, in part, to aid as a windbreak against hot westerly and northerly winds and to work as a shelter belt against bushfire but also to provide balance to the overall landscape. We'll be planting a woodlot in order that we can harvest our own wood to burn in winter. We'll be fencing an area for our immediate food production - fruit trees, nuts, berries, veg, herbs, chickens and ducks for eggs and meat with an eye and an ear to what else we may want to grow in the future.

Oh but we can't excavate until our D.A is approved. It's been lodged and the hefty fee has been paid. We're still reeling from the crazily mammoth heft of the fee. In the meantime we continue to research off grid solar systems, follow every lead towards free recycled hardwoods, search for cheap, local native plant tube stock, work out what where we can get a large number of excellent fruit and nut trees for the littlest amount of money and pontificate on exactly what the kids' cubby should be made of.


  1. oh my goodness my darling ones, what a magnificent (rough) plan. Your day with John Champagne does indeed sound very exciting, i can hear it in your words. xxxx

  2. How exciting. I can't wait to hear more about your plans, as and when they firm up and/or change. I am very interested in great permie design and how well thought out systems and design can make your property and house work well for eternity. I wait with baited breath.
    Scott xo

  3. I found and followed your blog a little while ago when I saw your gorgeous creation on Georgie Love. I clicked on your link in my dashboard today as I was interested in what you were going to do with your 7 acres. As I read on, I kept thinking "this rings of familiarity". Peak Hill Road. There is a Peak Hill Road nearby my home town. I start to scroll. Imagine my surprise - my home town is your new home town. Welcome new neighbour. :-). Look forward to meeting you one day - its a small town, its usually inevitable...

  4. Also my old town, are you from around those parts I'm wondering? Would I know you...

  5. Woh. This all sounds seriously HUGE and AMAZING - it all fair takes my breath away, it does. Orchards?! Excavation?! These things are so big and so...well..BIG! You sound like grown-ups!

    I am in awe.

  6. Wow 7 acres sure is a different ball game, and what a wonderfully exciting adventure it will be seeing where your plans will take you! Fantastic you've had John out to visit and gotten those planning juices following and a rough plan happening already - yay! We're just so happy for you all and can't wait to see how things progress, and visit at some stage

    Love and food growing goodness,

    Ally, Rich and bub