Where: Eldorado, Vic. Within the Chiltern/Mt Pilot National Park.
Site Size: 20 acres
Site Specs: 210 Elevation, slightly undulating valley with steep hill surrounds of the national park all around. Sandy, granitic soil with some bentonite clay to be found rising to the surface in boggy areas.
Current Water Situation: Small dam and seasonal creek with runs from June – Oct. No large water storage tanks as yet only multiple 1000L water pods and a pump and mobile pod to bring extra water to site when needed. The limited water supply has meant that we cannot go ahead with any large scale planting just yet. And we also need to work on the fencing (to protect the plants from the abundant wild life) and upgrade soil quality.
Farming Style: Our Farm is lightly based on permaculture principles, but we also practice flexibility and openness to all sustainable farming ideas and are learning new things each day.
Farm Status: We’re currently in the early development stage and planning to get very hands-on in 2017.
- One year observation of land – complete
- Permaculture planning with assistance from David Arnold – complete.
The Farm Plan:
In November 2015 we hosted a “Permaculture Day Out”. This was an open permaculture consultation with David Arnold. Participants got to join in a permaculture site assessment first hand and helped with the overall property plan.
It was a great day and having many ideas and opinions was a great way for us to gain a new look at our farm. Original we went a bit overboard, trying to fit in EVERYTHING and spread it out to the far reaches of the property. David and the participants got us to hone in a little and bring it all back to a more dedicated area of the farm for ease of development and future workings. With an extremely limited budget this was a refreshing view and felt much more achievable and gave us a clearer view of where to start.
The latest plan includes:
ZONE 0: 1 x large Farm hub for multiple purposes (shed/nursery etc)
ZONE 1: Kitchen garden, large chicken coop & rabbit housing
ZONE 2: 2-3 acre fruit tree orchard (with ducks)
ZONE 3: 3-4 well fenced paddocks for animals.
ZONE 4: Outdoor workshop spaces, tree planting, spaces to enjoy nature, camping areas.
ZONE 5: National Park
Farm Animals onsite:
SHEEP: We had 4 lovely sheep free-ranging onsite, all orphans. 3 where destined for the plate and one was a very gorgeous pet and friends. Unfortunately they found a nice whole in the fence and went exploring in the national park. We were able to track their foot prints for quite a long distance but didn’t find them in the end. They have had a good effect on the land however eating many of the weeds and spread their ‘compost’ everywhere for about a year.
CHICKENS: When we first arrived on the farm we brought our 4 chickens and rooster with us. They were free-ranging during the day and locked up at night. However we went away for a short time and they got picked off by the foxes.
COOPER: Here is our lovely farm dog Cooper. She loves to round up anything that moves and loves to sleep by the fire.
We will get both Sheep and Chickens again, but with better infrastructure next time to keep them safe. The plan is to also have dairy and meat goats, meat rabbits and perhaps ducks within the orchards.
Wild Life onsite:
Being surrounded by the national park we get the benefits of watching nature all around. There are so many beautiful creatures that use our land and thrive in the surrounding national park. Although many of these may be considered pest to farmers, we are extremely pleased to have them here and will simply plan things better to allow for their presents e.g. very good fencing to protect our crops.
The main animal in abundance here are the kangaroo’s, there is quite a large mob that hang out on the property each night and it is awesome waking up to them all. There is also wombats, rabbits, koalas, goanna, snakes, spiders, seasonal frogs and ducks, HEAPS of birds of all kinds including , 3 eagles constantly flying overhead and many many more amazing delights to watch and photograph.
Wild Edibles onsite:
There are a number of useful wild plants onsite, both native and introduced. So far we have experimented with:
Crop plan: To begin full development in 2017
The plan is to have a 2-3 acres fruit tree orchard which we will being planting in Spring 2016. Five (20m x 20m) garden plots based on a similar concept to Jean-Martin Fortier’s market garden plans. A more wild and free kitchen garden by the communal shed and a small nursery.
We truly get all seasons in this part of Victoria. Dry hot summers, Cold green & frosty winters, gorgeous colourful Autumns and blossoming Springs. It’s a really diverse year and the landscape changes so much which will be challenging for crops but we hope to come up with a system that works well, it might take a little experimenting for the first few years.