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How To Build A No-Dig Garden Bed (1)

How To Build A No-Dig Garden Bed

We have been extremely busy on Primal Farm working hard on producing good honest organic real food.   I have become addicted to growing food.  It’s not a bad addiction to have but it does mean that I am running out of room and need more garden beds.  Our goal on Primal Farm is to regenerate the land.  What that means is we strive to continue to improve the soil and not take from it.  Unfortunately this is what mono-culture crops do.  Mono-culture crops can strip the soil of vital nutrients and this is why some farmers will supplement with chemical fertilizers.  Mono-culture crops also encourage the proloferation of diseases and pests relevant to that crop species.  Again chemicals need to be used to manage these issues.  Personally I don’t want to be eating crops that have been sprayed with chemicals because of the unknown affects those chemicals may have on my health and the health of our customers.  And secondly there are questions on how long it takes for man made chemicals to break down in the environement.

Unfortunately our land has about 6cm of top soil and under that there is a lot of rock and clay.  Although not insurmountable it’s going to take us sometime to build up and regenerate our top soil so that we can use this to grow nutrient dense food.  We are slowly working on this however this is going to take us some time and I needed new garden beds quickly.  So we decided to build some no-dig garden beds.

The benefts of no-dig garden beds are:

Easy to make
No digging required
Can be built anywhere and on top of anything
Reduces weed growth
Minimal materials needed
Built using recyclable material
The materials used to build your garden beds will break down into nutrients which feeds your vegetables
A brilliant way to involve the kids

Below are step by step photos of how we built our no-dig garden beds.
The first photo shows where we decided to build the beds.  As you can see this part of the land is in terrible condition.  It is dry, covered in cape weed and has no top soil.  Because we are building on top of the grass we mowed the patch first.
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Next we brought in from storage our rotted hay.  You can also use pea straw or lucerne.

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Lots of hay being used.  This hay was bailed two seasons ago and has been sitting in storage ever since. Some of it we left out in the rain which rotted and it is great for building the beds.

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Step One:  Our garden beds are fifteen metres long and one and a half metres wide.  The first layer is going down.  When you build your garden beds think of it like making a layered sandwich.  The first layer is the hay.  You can also use newspaper, pea straw or lucerne as your first layer.  The day we decided to make our beds it was extremly windy on primal farm and we had no hope in keeping the newspaper down.  Once you put your first layer down you need to water well.

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Step Two:  Next we put down a layer of certified organic compost.  We have been making our own compost but we can’t make enough of it and as we are an organic farm we buy in a compost which is certified by Australian Certified Organic (ACO).  We also watered this layer.

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Step Three:  Next we put down a layer of premium certified organic pellets and watered in well.  The pellets have been certified by Biological Farmers Association.

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Step Four:  Next layer is our own compost.  We make our own compost using all of our household food scraps, the dry leaves, lawn clippings and any other organic matter from our farm.  We also add in the hay and chook poo from the chook house.   Our own compost piles are situated  next door to the chook pen which allows the chooks to dig and scratch daily. After this layer we again watered.
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Looking good and healthy

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Step Five: Next step is repeating the first step and that is putting another layer of hay down and water well.

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Step Six:  Add another layer of certified organic compost and another layer of pellets.  Water well

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As you can see in the photos the beds are coming along beautifully.  We are going to be making another two more beds in this area.

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The last layer is a layer of seaweed from Bruny Island Beaches.  Seaweed is an excellent organic matter to use because the sea plants are full of nutrients for your fruit and vegetables.

IMG_8093The seaweed smelt so good.  We put this straight onto the garden beds.
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And now they are both complete.  To build both of these garden beds it took us roughly four hours.  And now they are ready for planting.  The vegetables going into these two beds are pumpkins, zucchini, corn and cucumbers.

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So lets recap.

Materials needed to build your no-dig garden bed

You only need a few materials to start no-dig gardening.  And remember you can do this anywhere.  If you only have concrete around your home, you can build a garden!

Materials in no particular order:
ƒNewspaper, hay, lucerne hay (lucerne hay contains nitrogen, one of the main plant nutrients), straw (obtained from the hardware store or nursery)

compost, which can be made at home or purchased .  If purchased I recommend asking for certified organic compost.
If you have poor soil like us I recommend adding a really good fertilizer such as blood and bone or dynamic lifter.  This will help improve the soil fertility.

Seaweed.  Head down to your local beaches and forage for some seaweed.  In Tasmania you are allowed to take 100kg per person per day.  Please check your local area

You can also add as one of your layers chook, sheep or cow poo.  Again I do recommend sourcing from an organic supplier who stocks free range and grass fed animals.  This will help to avoid any residual chemicals and antibiotics. Remember what the animal eats is passed onto us through the food chain.

And the exciting bit

Fruit and vegetables you can grow in a no-dig garden

Everything!  How exciting that you can grow any fruit and vegetables in a no-dig garden.  I hope that you will give this a go.  Growing food is one of the simpliest and joyous things to do and I hope that you will have fun creating your own food garden.  Please share your photos with me on Facebook or Instagram and if you liked this article I would love it if you would share it.  My goal is to inspire over one million people to grow their own food.

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No Experience Growing Food – You Don’t Need Experience If You Have Passion

Happy Spring everyone.  I love this time of year.  Even though I still have the wood heater going because it’s still a bit chilly here in Tasmania, I  love spring. The flowers around my garden are amazing and all the vegetables which I planted a few months back are starting to come alive.  The bees are starting to appear again and the days are getting longer.  At the moment in the garden I have kale, silverbeet, spinach, mizuna ready to be eaten.  Plus pumpkin and potato’s from last season.  I also have a good supply of fresh parsley, coriander and leeks.  I am enjoying these fresh and organic vegetables and herbs but I can’t wait until the rest of the garden is ready to be harvested.   

What isn’t quite ready is the Brassica’s.  I am waiting for the kohlrabi, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli to be picked.  Turnips I am checking everyday to see if I can pull more out of the ground.  I have done some succession planting, which means planting your seedlings out every 3-4 weeks.  This way you can (hopefully) ensure you have a continuous supply of vegetables through the whole season.  

Did you know that two and a half years ago I never owned a vegetable garden?  It is amazing what anyone can do.  

Lets take a look around the primal farm vegetable gardens and be inspired by the seasons and seasonal eating.  

It all starts with the soil.  We have been working really hard on our soil to ensure it has the right balance of all the important nutrients.  Our goal is to be 100% organic and so far so good.  This big pile of compost is 100% certified organic, purchased from a horticultural place here in Tasmania.  We brought compost in because we cannot make enough of our own.  Most of the food scraps go to the chickens.  We do have a lot of brown and green waste material and we also use chicken and sheep poo.  I think by the look of my vegetables below, we are doing extremely well with having good organic matter.  

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First up is the kale.  Two varieties. These seedlings were only planted out two weeks ago.  They should be ready in another four – six  weeks.  But don’t worry I have plenty of kale below ready to be harvested.  

The photos I am about to show you are in one garden plot which is divided into many beds.  I have decided to make this plot the Brassica family.  You will see beetroot in there which is not part of the Brassica family, however I planted this way before I knew how to do crop rotation 

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Baby chinese cabbage.  I do have a problem with slugs.  As you can see lots of tiny holes.  This is where the slugs and I also believe white cabbage moths decide to chomp away.  I do try all the organic ways of getting rid of the slugs but unfortunately nothing has worked.  So it becomes me versus them at night with a head torch picking them off.  As I refuse to use any chemicals or pesticides on my property I just let nature do its thing.  

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Below is lime streak mizuna and also mibuna.  It is amazing.  Has a strong pepper flavour and tastes a bit like rocket.  

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My tiny Brassica seedlings.  These guys below are broccoli.  Four weeks ago I planted thirty six seedlings.  I do tend to go a bit over board and I think it is so I can share them with the slugs and cabbage moths.  

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Aerial view shot of my garlic and beetroot seedlings.  The garlic is growing really well.  I have never grown garlic before and it is going to be a good day when I can harvest my first bulb. 

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Just look at these.  Baby spinach leaves.  These guys should be ready in another four weeks.  

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I planted rocket between the mizuna and the kale.  Rows of it and they’re growing really well.  

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Did you know you can eat beetroot leaves?  Yes you can and when picked early enough they are so sweet and delicious.  The chickens love them too.  I should be able to harvest this crop in another few weeks. (Fingers crossed).  I planted the beetroot in March but I think because of all the cold weather it has been slow to grow.  

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Mature spinach.  The leaves are super green and lush.  I think it’s because of the organic matter.  

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Come on, you can do it.  Sprouting purple broccoli.  First time planting it.  

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I love kale chips and I am glad I love Kale.  I have it growing everywhere in the garden.  

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The garden bed below is green and purple cabbage.  Still a long way to go but I see shape.  

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Welcome to garden two.  The next lot of photos are taken from the second garden plot and inside this plot I have ten beds.  
Below you’re looking at apricot flowers  I think this is unbelievable.  After the flowers we will be receiving apricots!  

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This was today’s collection of eggs.  The girls are laying really well.  Most days I am receiving seven – nine eggs.  Actually the other day I collected fifteen.  I am sure it is because they’re outside in the sun every single day from 7.30am – 5pm.  Lots of fresh greens and I am also feeding them plenty of other vegetable scraps and protein.  

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The first harvest of turnips.  I love the colour.  I roasted these in coconut oil.

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Below is a green crop.  Well it is supposed to be a green crop.  I need to tell you something.  I have a problem with picking the vegetables when they’re ready or digging the green crop in.  I love my vegetable gardens looking pretty and seeing all this green makes me happy.  I also love seeing the broad bean flowers come through.  Green crops are brilliant at putting nitrogen back into the soil.  After this I will plant tomatoes.  

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Not ready but below I have growing sprouting broccoli, cabbages, silverbeet, Brussel sprouts and kale.  I could actually pick the kale.  

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This is exciting.  I decided to create a no dig garden in the path.  I have put straw down and then organic compost and planted marigolds, broad beans and peas.  They are all starting to sprout.  And the exciting thing, underneath all the soil and straw will be lots of worms which I can throw back into the garden beds.  

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Soon to be picked.  Delicious organic cauliflower

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Another one, but it has a little bit longer to go

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And this one did not make it.  The cold snap we had made it flower.  

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I separated previous rhubarb and moved all the rhubarb to a new garden bed.  Now I have more rhubarb and more space in the garden.  Double win situation.

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More delicious kale.  I am looking forward to kale salads with roasted beetroot and toasted walnuts with a good drizzle of olive oil.  Simple eating is truly amazing

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Below I have more Kale.  This is another variety

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New season celery. I can actually start to eat this.  However I still have a good supply of last seasons celery which I must eat first before it becomes to stringy

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Tiny purple sprouting broccoli

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I love seeing the cabbage hearts take shape.  Just look at it!  How beautiful.  Nature is magical.

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Another garden bed with more green crop.  I can’t wait to plant out in late spring

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I found this guy in another garden bed.  More sprouting purple broccoli for late spring, early summer eating

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AMAZING!  This would have to be my favourite photo.  Look at all the vitamins and minerals in this garden bed.  I have kale, turnips, mizuna, broccoli, cabbages, brussels sprout and silverbeet growing.  

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A tiny broad bean seedling.  

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Kohlrabi – I love it!  eaten raw in salads is the best.  Extremely crunchy.  The bulb needs to get much bigger before I harvest it

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Herbs, glorious herbs.  Mint and parsley

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Marjarom.  

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And Parsley.  I do have coriander growing and another variety of parsley plus rosemary, thyme and sage. Adding fresh herbs to your meals is a great way to add flavour

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And lastly, this is the third garden plot.  This plot had pumpkins, zucchini, marrow and potatoes in it from last season.  It has been resting all winter with lots of organic matter added to it.  The chickens spend most of their day in here and they love it.  I am looking forward to putting the spring and summer vegetables in.  

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Thank you so much for scrolling through my vegetable gardens.  As I mentioned at the start, I had no experience with growing food all I have is passion.   I also had no experience with soil health and crop rotation.  However with a big pile of books and lots of reading and researching you can do a lot.  The best advice I can give you is to start with looking after your soil and two, just get out there and plant.  I started planting everything and I didn’t worry about crop rotation until a year ago.  It also gave me time to really understand the seasons and what grows and what doesn’t grow.  And it also gave me time to learn from my mistakes.  I am only at the very beginning of growing my own food but feel extremely proud that I have achieved all this in under two years.  From the first year to this year is a 100% improvement and I am looking forward to next year.  There is so much to know but it is fun learning and experimenting and I am always down at my neighbour’s house asking questions.  
Third advice, never be embarrassed to ask questions.  I am a visual learner and I learn by doing. So it is great for me to spend time with other gardeners and learn how they do things.  

Spring is a great time to start a garden.  If you have grass at your place, I would love to encourage you to turn that into a vegetable garden.  Big or small it does not matter.  What matters is that you’re taking responsibility over your own health and wellbeing and you are growing your own food.  It is an amazing thing to do.  The health and wellbeing benefits goes far beyond just food as medicine.  

So with passion I encourage you to start growing your own food.  

Happy Gardening!  If you have any questions at all, please share them below because I want to help you to start your own food bank!  

Jo

 

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Self sufficiency & sustainability

70% of the Seafood You’re Eating in Australia is Imported – Here’s What We Can Do

If you haven’t guessed it by now you would know how extremely passionate I am about sourcing and eating local, ethical and sustainable produce. Local fruit and vegetables, local meats and local seafood.  We can achieve eating this by knowing where to shop and by asking questions.  

Supporting our farmers at the farmers markets or buying direct from the farmer is one way to shop to be able to consume ethical and local produce.  You can also achieve this by buying into a local community supportive agriculture system (CSA local produce box), growing your own food or buying from your butcher or local fisherman who can tell you exactly what you are buying and where it is from. 

However, where I become  disappointed, angry and disheartened is when I go to buy fresh produce and there is no clear labelling on where that produce is from or even how it was grown.  I want to be able to ask the butcher, the shop keeper and the waiter at the restaurant if the food I am about to eat or buy is local.  I want to feel connected with the food I buy and with the farmer who grew it.  I feel we have a right to know. Don’t you? 

Within Australia we are starting to see changes in the labelling of fruit and vegetables.  However we still have a long way to go with meat and seafood and it wasn’t until I watched the SBS program ‘What’s the Catch’  which was presented by Matthew Evans, I stood up and took notice of what is really happening in the seafood industry here in Australia and why I feel the need to write this post to help support seafood labelling.  

According to Matthew Evans, 70% of seafood sold in Australia is imported.  And the seafood that you thought was flathead sitting on your plate in front of you at the restaurant can actually be sold as something else. It does not even need to be labelled as ‘flathead’ it can simply be called ‘fish’.  

Personally I find this ridiculous and I am not the only one.  You may have heard of Matthew Evans from Fat Pig Farm who also has a very popular SBS television show called The Gourmet Farmer.  

Matthew is currently lobbying the government to bring in new laws to legislate changes to seafood labelling so we as consumers know exactly where our seafood comes from and what species of seafood is actually on our plate. Matthew Evans has worked tirelessly with a senate committee to encourage people to look into seafood labelling.  The senate committee recommended country of origin labelling to be extended to all seafood sold in Australia. The senate commitee also recommend that fisherman  (who were excited about the potential new regulations) would be required to sort, label and record their catch accurately.  This was all for the consumer, so you and I knew where our food came from and what we were actually consuming.  

The labelling will encourage restaurants, cafe’s, takeaway shops and bistro’s to be transparent and truthful and tell us exactly what type of fish we are ordering and where in Australia that fish is from.  Matthew has spent many months fighting for the introduction of new labelling laws.  He has travelled Australia talking to and hearing stories from local fisherman about misrepresented and mislabeled products. 

He was able to get the Federal Senate to consider current labelling and asked for their help to change those labelling laws.  Unfortunately the Federal Senate did not think it important enough for consumers to know if the seafood they are eating is local, ethical and sustainable.  The Senate has decided not to implement the proposed amendments, but to keep the current uninformative labelling in place.   This is a joke right!?

How can our Senators, both from political parties, not realise the consequence of ensuring imported fish is labeled correctly before it is sold to customers?   How can they not think it is important to bring in regulations so that consumers can feel confident when dining out eating seafood or buying it from a local takeaway shop.  With 70% of fish sold in Australia imported and misleadingly labeled at point of sale,  how can this not be taken serious?

So what does this mean?  

It means that when you buy sushi, or buy takeaway fish from a fish punt or even sit in a restaurant and order seafood, you have no way of telling whether the seafood your eating has come from Australia, whether it is even local or worst still is actually what they called it is on the menu.  

Wherever I purchase my fish I want to now exactly what it is, where it was caught and when it was caught. I don’t want to read on a menu that I am eating ‘fish’, I want to know exactly what I am putting into my mouth.

Not knowing where your food comes from is not only bad for the consumer (and potentially your health) it is also bad for the environment and for the farmers and local and responsible fishers who do the right thing.  

How can you help?

Buy local and sustainable seafood. Question your fishmonger. Where was the fish caught and is the fish as claimed i.e. Is it Pink Ling or Blue Eye.  Never ever buy imported prawns.  Watch ‘What’s the catch’ to find out why.   

Definition of local and sustainable seafood: 

Local and sustainable seafood is fish or shellfish which reaches our dinner plates with minimal impact upon fish populations or the wider marine environment.  
It is with the understanding that the way fish are caught, the impact on the seafloor and other marine wildlife is done in a healthy and natural way to help protect the marine eco-systems.  

How do you achieve this?

1.  Buy from local and responsible fishers.  Head here to download the sustainable fishing guide app
2.  If you fish, only take what you need and fish responsibly. Over fishing is not the answer.  
3.  Ask for wild caught or line caught fish at the checkout.  Ask if it is local and whether it is a deep sea and slow growing or long-lived species.   Don’t be shy in asking the questions.  If you cannot receive an answer that you’re happy with walk away.  
4.  Try to avoid buying any species of fish known to be in ecological crisis – see list below
5.  Try to avoid any species of fish caught using methods which harm the marine environment – see list below
6.  Eat more shellfish 
7.  Look hard for food labelling signs on tinned fish at your local supermarket which can give you genuine commitment in the way the fish has been caught and or farmed.  
8.  The most destructive fishing technique is trawling and dredging.  Both of these methods drag heavy gear along the bottom of the sea, which disturbs and destroys the seabed.  Over fishing is also a burden on ocean inhabitants.  So by you and I asking for line, wild caught and local fish we can help to keep fish levels stocks relatively high without jeopardising the ecosystem in which they live.

We can vote with our dollar at the checkout and with the list of good fish, bad fish below we are empowered to make better buying decisions.  This is how we can make a difference.  

WHAT TO EAT AND WHAT TO AVOID:  

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HOW CAN YOU HELP CHANGE THE SEAFOOD LABELLING LAWS SO WE AS CONSUMERS KNOW WHAT WE’RE EATING

You can help in a big way by heading over to sign this petition.  Australia deserves accurate seafood labelling and this petition is petitioning the Australian Senate to change the rules so we as consumers can feel confident in knowing what we’re buying and eating.  Sign here 

Download the sustainable fishing guide here:

And more information for you on how to buy and eat ethical and sustainable seafood

AND LASTLY – ENTER MY COMPETITION

To thank you for taking a stand and supporting the petition, and Matthew, and deciding to take positive steps in changing the way you eat, live and think; I would like to give one lucky person the chance to win ‘The gourmet Farmer, Goes Fishing’ cookbook which has been kindly donated by Matthew and Sadie from Fat Pig Farm.  

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All you need to do to enter is this:  Tell me why you signed the petition.  COMMENT BELOW

Winners will be announced on Friday 28th August here on the blog.  Good luck

And now with all this information, you can fish and eat fish ethically and sustainably.  

If you liked this blog post I hope that you will support Primal Living and the positive messages that we spread by sharing this post.  Thank you.  

 

References: 

http://www.sustainableseafood.org.au/
https://www.sustainabletable.org.au/Portals/0/Switch%20the%20fish_guide_cutkeep-page1.pdf
http://www.sustainableseafood.org.au/data/MiniGuide_30_May_2014_web.pdf

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Victorian Ethical Farm Research Trip – Part Three

I hope you have been enjoying the series of our ethical farm tour we did a few weeks back in Victoria.  If you missed part one and part two you can read them here and here

So now we are on our way to visit Ryan and Deb from Benton Rise Farm.  I know I have said this about every farm we have visited  but I was so excited about meeting Deb and Ryan and seeing their small-scale farm

Benton Rise Farm is on the Mornington Peninsula and to get there you need to catch a ferry.  It is about a 40 minute one way trip and apparently can get quite rough.  Lucky for us, the day that we went across was beautiful.  A bit chilly but with the sun out we thoroughly enjoyed the trip.  

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Who is Benton Rise Farm? 

Ryan and Deb with their three children decided as a family that they wanted a lifestyle where they can all be part of a fantastic community and live simply.  They wanted to know who grew their food and they wanted to be connected with the land and the food that they grew.  They wanted a non-complicated lifestyle and to do things the good old way.  And so they bought Benton Rise Farm (BRF).  BRF is a beautiful 3 acre patch of paradise in Tuerong, which Ryan and Deb took over by the previous owners who created a magical small-scale farm from the overgrown paddocks.   

Ryan and Deb grow their own organic fruit and vegetables which they sell from a gorgeous 1910 train carriage every weekend (which came with the property) and they also run goats, pigs, chickens, roosters and guinea fowl.  Which they kill on their property and eat for their own consumption.  

The kids are truly connected to where their food comes from and even the littlest helps dad with killing a rooster.  Not only that every weekend Deb sources local and organic fresh fruit and vegetables from nearby farmers and sells this with their own produce from the train.  

The train is a weekend farmers market whereby locals come to visit, enjoy organic local produce boxes and most importantly connect with like-minded people.  I love this.  It brings people together.  It helps to strengthen the local food system and it ensures that people are able to enjoy fresh and organic food that will help them to live well and be well.  

And whilst mum and dad shop inside the train the kids can have so much fun outside the train.  I felt like a kid whilst at BRF.  There is so much to see and do.  Kids can interact with all the animals and Ryan tells me that the goats love kids.  What a great day out for the whole family.  This is such a beautiful connection between food and human health.  

So lets take a tour of BRF and be inspired.  

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Oh my, this little piglet didn’t go to market but he did go inside to be loved.  He was the runt of the litter and the kids took him inside to hand feed and  keep him nice and warm.  I had cuddles and he was so cute.  

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Eighteen piglets running around all extremely happy.  As we were there in the middle of winter the pigs digged up the paddocks extremely quickly.  These guys are about to be moved into new paddocks but when Andrew and I were there I can honestly say that they were having a ball in the mud.  Ryan and Deb have two massive houses for them to sleep in and they can run in and out as they please.  It is so cool seeing healthy and happy piglets and mum by their side.  

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Beautiful organic and locally grown produce which locals can purchase from the train

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I wish we could grow citrus in Tasmania.  Super jealous of the citrus orchard.  Actually I was inspired by this so when I came home I bought an orange tree and placed it in our hot-house.  Fingers crossed.  

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This is one of the chook houses.  Andrew and I loved this because Ryan built a door that is has a self timer.  So he has set it to open and close at certain times.  We hope to do this with our new chook pens.  

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I have never seen guinea fowl before.  I know, where have I been?  Obviously under a rock!  We loved these birds.  Super cool and very noisy.  

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More pictures of happy piglets.  I just wanted to cuddle them all.  So cute.  

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I love hand-made signs.  As you drive into the farm you are directed to the massive car park.  It is such a great set up.  

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Roosters galore.  I lost count of how many roosters they have but I love how they have such a diverse range of different breeds.  We must get a rooster here on the farm

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Andrew had shed jealousy.  Ryan has a great set up inside his blog shed and I love how the kids squiggle on the wall next to the garden tools.  I don’t think you can ever have too many garden tools

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Boots by the train

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Broad beans growing up in between native flowers.  Great idea and it looks so pretty

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Many rows of citrus trees.  Deb tells me that Ryan is a gun at growing fruit trees.  I must get him down to Tasmania as we have killed two lemon trees and a lime.  

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I loved the goats.  They have two and are so friendly.  

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Hello there.  I hope you are having a wonderful day.  Said goat to human!  Nah, just kidding.  But this picture defiantly needs a catch phrase.  Do you have one?  Comment below

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More citrus trees.  Just look at the vibrant colour of the oranges.  

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You don’t need a lot of room to grow food is my new motto!  Remember Ryan and Deb are on 3 acres and they are doing so many amazing things.  

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This is one of my favourite pictures.  Another beautiful rooster.  

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The train.  I absolutely love this.   Every weekend the train is filled to the brim with local, seasonal and organic fresh produce.  People come to support local and connect with the community.  What a beautiful way to live

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The amazing hot-house that Ryan is in the early stages of building.  We love this so much that Andrew has contacted the company to get quotes.  Can you imagine all the tomatoes we can grow in here.  And don’t forget chillies’ and eggplant and then once the season is finished throw the chooks in there during winter.  

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The boys and Deb chatting all things hot-house.  

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Daddy pig.  He looked up at me when I took the photo but decided that was too hard.  

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Juicy, organic and real.  The way food is meant to be.  Eaten fresh from a tree or out of the ground. Remember this and you will see amazing health and wellness results

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I loved the arch way into their vegetable gardens.  So pretty

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I can’t remember what breed this chook is but isn’t she beautiful?

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And there you have it.  Benton Rise Farm.  I can honestly say that Andrew and I had so much fun spending the morning with Ryan and Deb.  Ryan stayed back from his other job to show us around and we are extremely grateful.  When we were there it felt like we had known these guys for ages because we never stopped talking about all things related to growing food, simple living, leaving the city life, community, sharing and chooks.  

Three things we took takeaway from our visit?

1:  Learn as you go.  This is what Deb and Ryan are doing and the results are awesome
2.  If you have children, involve them as much as you can
3.  Go for bio-diversity.  In the vegetable garden, with animals and also with the garden.  It creates a beautiful ecology and also a talking point when people come to visit.  

Thank you so much Ryan and Deb for everything.  It is such an amazing feeling when you meet someone for the first time but know that you will be great friends forever.  That is how we feel about Ryan and Deb.  And if you’re ever in Tuerong please look up BRf and spend the morning shopping out of their train.  

Thanks for reading, please comment below with any questions or tell me how this post has inspired you to get out there and grow your own food.  I will see you soon for part 4 and it’s a beauty!  

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Victorian Ethical Farm Research Trip – Part Two

If you have just joined us and would like to catch up, part one of the trip is here

Our second day in Victoria we were excited to go and visit A Plot In Common which is owned by Tash and her husband Ben along with their three gorgeous children.  We are still in Dayelsford and the weather has been extremely cold.  I would say it was colder then Tasmania.  

From our hotel where we were stayed,  Tash and Ben’s farm was only 30 minutes away.  We stayed right in the middle of Dayelsford and I must say it is a beautiful town.  We stayed at a place called Frangos and Frangos for three nights and everything was perfect.  

With beanies and puffer jackets on and gumboots thrown into the back of the car we headed off on our early morning start.  We arrived at A Plot In Common and was greeted by the biggest smile.

Tash and Ben purchased the property in late 2012.  They now own a 10 acre farm in Lauriston which from Melbourne is over an hours drive and from Dayelsford 30 minutes.  With little farming experience they moved to the farm and now live and work from the farm full-time.  With passions in growing their own food, slaughtering their own meat and being part of the local community Tash and Ben with their three children wanted to create a life that had more meaning and could bring simple pleasures and happiness into their daily lives.  I just love that!!  

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Who is A Plot In Common?

We wanted to go and visit Tash and her farm A plot in Common because I was totally in love with their ethos and just like us they had ten acres.  A Plot in Common is a beautiful place that brings people together. Friends, family and community.  A farm to allow people to come and grow vegetables in the provided raised garden beds or join Tash and one of her guests in a workshop which she runs out of their stunning barn built-in the 1800’s.  

As we arrived Tash showed us around and first up were the garden beds.  She has built a beautiful community where by people can come and go as often as they like to help Tash grow food.  I love this idea. Not only is Tash helping others to have access to fresh, local and organic food she is also bringing together beautiful long life connections which will create a ripple effect for people to live well and be well.  

IMG_4269 IMG_4260 IMG_4250 IMG_4249 IMG_4259 IMG_4255 IMG_4269I love the idea of the raised garden beds.  Tash mentioned to us that initially she loved having the grass around the beds because she liked seeing lots of green, but if she was going to do the beds again she would have less grass.  Because it is just another thing to have to look after when you already have plenty of jobs already on the priority list.  And I know from my own experience since being on Primal Farm, making things as efficient as you can is the key.  There is always so much work to do. 

We did visit the farm in the middle of winter and a lot of the beds are being rested ready for spring planting. Exciting times ahead for the A Plot in Common gardeners.  

We were then introduced to her feathered friends.  Bruce the rooster and his ladies.  I loved the idea that Tash moves them around in her chook caravan and also she can keep the girls and Bruce contained and safe by an electric chook fence.  A brilliant idea and this little tip that Tash shared with us is something that we will defiantly do on our property.  

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One thing I have great respect for is that these guys slaughter their own meat for their own consumption.  I really admire people who do this.  Those who have done it for generations and those who are just starting out.  It’s never easy to kill your own animals but doing it this way, the ethical and humane way is showing the utmost respect for the animal and 100% connects us to our own food.  

Another thing I love about Tash and Ben is that they just threw themselves into farming and are learning along the way.  They have tried home schooling, converting farm buildings, building garden beds and establishing bee hives and with great support from their neighbours who are farmers and also from friends they are doing an amazing job.  
It was great hearing all their stories of the ‘mistakes’ that they have made and it made me just want to get home and fully throw myself into everything.  One thing I became aware of with this whole trip is I need to let go of perfection. Perfection on the farm does not happen.  Sure you strive to do your best but you just can’t beat nature! And who wants to anyway!  I am sure Tash and Ben agree with me here and anyone else reading this, the fun is in making the ‘mistakes’ and learning.  

The pigs!  I reckon everyone who can should own a pig.  We can’t wait to get more because you can use the whole animal, nose to tail and feed more than one family.  Plus pigs have the best personality.  Whilst we were there the black pig decided to get a bit friendly with his new girlfriend and for the first time (I know) I saw two pigs having a really good time.  I think Tash hopes to have baby piglets in spring.  So keep an eye out on her blog for photos.  

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Their beautiful jersy girl resting in her barn.  

One thing I loved is how like-minded people you have only known for five minutes can have an instant connection and be friends for ever.  I could have stayed and chatted with Tash and her family for ever but unfortunately we had to go so we could go and visit a beautiful town called Trentham and then have a look at the garden, Diggers in Eden.  

If ever you’re in Dayelsford please look up Tash and A Plot In Common to book into one of the workshops. You will be forever inspired and maybe inspired enough to have a plot, grow your own food and farm.  

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Andrew and I took awhile many things from Tash and Ben.  A young couple wanting to live a simple life which they can share with others.  I am very much inspired by them.  I have listed three things that we learnt and will implement here on Primal farm.  

1.  Let go of perfection.  Just get in there and do it
2.  Learn from your mistakes and never stop sharing
3.  Buy some electric fence for the chickens.  Perfect way to keep them safe

I chatted for most of the morning and I forgot to get a photo of Tash so I took this one from her Instagram page so you can see who this gorgeous lady is.  

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(photo credit:  A Plot In Common)

Thank you so much Tash and Ben.  You guys are doing wonderful things and I am looking forward to the day you both visit our little farm here on Bruny Island.  

Please share your comments.  and if you love this post I would be very grateful if you shared to help others change the way they eat, think and live for better health and wellbeing.  

Look forward to showing you Part 3 where we go and visit Ryan and Deb from Benton Rise Farm.  

 

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