When Bob Tatnell and Angie Bowen arrived at what was to become Gardenfarm, they knew that there was a challenge ahead from which they and their family would never emerge the same. How does a person fresh from the city come to realise that the fruit that seems to begin its life in 1 kilogram plastic bags, actually emerges miraculously from the earth, air and sun as it weighs down summer branches with a thousand examples?
How could he or she know in advance the beautiful protective instincts and sociability of a cow, or that sheep are far from stupid or that a dog is truly a friend for life?
These discoveries were just the beginning of a fundamental change for Bob and Angie.
Profoundly committed to developing their farm on the solid foundation of Permaculture (a sustainable way of life and farming developed by Bill Mollison in Tasmania in the 1970’s) Bob and Angie have been amazed at the results of their hard work and commitment.
Especially Bob, a poet at heart, is abundantly enthusiastic over his discoveries. He is in awe at the energy contained in a seed, the miracle of a grafted apple and the fact that plants often regarded as weeds performed pumping actions to extract minerals and water from the soil and nitrogen from the air for the benefit of the other, edible, plants.
He is thrilled to have discovered that meat quality depends upon environment and contentedness, not weight and that a chicken has a myriad of vital farm functions; that slowing down water keeps it forever in the soil; and that wood is nature’s fertiliser.
In his quest to make Permaculture the core of his farming success he continues to ask critical questions.
“What of observation and education, experimentation, failures?”
“What of abundance?”
“How can soil be mud in one season and rock in another?”
He believes that “observation plays an enormous part in the development of a viable and sustainable small farm.”
“But so does reading about and listening to the observations of others,” he adds. “How can it be that the green leaf is the only thing that is newly created in the universe? A big statement. And as the leaf falls and is re-incorporated into the the topsoil, new life is created from minerals from the deep and gases from the atmosphere. How could a farmer come to realise the true value of a tree?”
According to Bob, farmers are surrounded by limitless opportunities. Diversity really knows no bounds and food for farming families, their communities and others should never be under question.
Bob welcomes discussion around what works on his farm and is delighted when people show an interest in how he is progressing.
What Bob and Angie are discovering now, as their farm matures, with its trees, vines and bushes, its energy and plant and animal successions, more time is available and needed for the harvest phases.
“And what could be better than that!” says Bob
If you ever happen to be out Hiawatha way he would be more than happy to show you his progress, his inventions and his truly delicious jams and jellies.
If you would like to learn more about Permaculture principals in an educational-style setting, Bob is offering a Permaculture Start Course at Gardenfarm on the weekend of the 10th and 11th of January 2015.
Registrations are now open at www.gardenfarm.biz.
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