I’m just back from the Gardening Australia Expo in Adelaide where apart from selling subscriptions and magazines, I was able to link up with friends and permaculture contacts. The expo went well, with many new features, such as the ‘Organic Circle’ stage featuring GA presenters Josh Byrne (talking about getting your soil right), Tino Carnevale (covering planting and growing) and Sophie Thomson (on keeping plants healthy organically) outlining the key aspects of sustainable vegetable growing. The same stage will be at the Brisbane GA Expo from April 16 – 18 (10am to 4.30pm daily at the Brisbane Convention Centre). There is also the ‘Potting Shed’ where experts give hands-on presentations in practical skills like grafting and raising seedlings. A great new addition is the Backyard Creatures area where you can learn about raising chooks and ducks, attracting birds and other native wildlife to your garden, and even butterflies.
After the expo I took my family out to The Food Forest permaculture property of Graham & Annemarie Brookman, who I met well over a decade ago and have visited many times since. Their 15 hectare farm and learning centre outside Gawler remains one of the best examples of permaculture in the world, all based on solid horticultural and agricultural know-how. There are more than 150 organically grown varieties of fruit and nuts, wheat and vegetables, free range eggs, honey, carob beans, Australian native foods, nursery plants and timber.
It’s always a wonder to walk around the property (in early autumn) picking pistachios, figs and carob pods from the trees. The pistachios have a strong almost mentholly smell to the pinky-peach coloured skin surrounding the shell and nut. The dark, chocolate coloured carob pods can be chewed on as you walk the orchards, but beware the occasional hard seed. Meanwhile there are 15 or so fig varieties to choose from, such as Flanders and Black Genoa, all luscious and a feast in themselves.
To top it off, Graham makes his own shiraz and chardonnay in the production shed next to the strawbale cool room.
I’ve attached a photo of the pistachios, and although I have some family shots from this year’s visit, I liked this one from two years ago taken in the orchard. That’s Annemarie at left, me at the back, Oliver, Nina and Billie (front).
Look out for an article on the Food Forest this year or read about them at www.foodforest.com.au
By: Steve Payne
First published: March 2010