Limestone Permaculture Farm, are based in the picturesque Stroud Road Village on the mid-north coast of NSW. The property kicked off in 2010 initially as a project to move rural, design & create a productive small acre permaculture farm. Ten years on, the farm demonstrates that a thoughtful design process, based on permaculture ethics & principles, is essential to achieve a balanced, healthy & bountiful farm, homestead & garden. PA’s Kym chats with Brett and Nici about permaculture living, the importance of community networks & the determination to continue to build resilience, skills and sharingPA professional members Brett, Nici, Trae & Bronte from
Tell us about the journey of Limestone Permaculture.Our awakening began around 2003 when Nici became increasingly unwell with an immune-related illness whilst we were residing in Newcastle. This fuelled our need to provide a more organic life for our family & re-ignited Brett’s childhood gardening upbringing. So it started with growing, eating & living organically and grew ‘in abundance’ to encompass sharing, community gardening, researching and not long after… permaculture! In 2020 we are enjoying working as a family on our beautiful farm providing permaculture principled education & demonstration, homesteading skills & farmgate Co-op fresh produce. We also implement permaculture principled projects within our community, schools & wider region. For us at Limestone Farm, permaculture means embracing a ‘Whole of Life’ living system with an essential ‘Evolving Design Process’ at its core, fundamentally striving for a naturally sustainable & resilient life, guided by Permaculture Ethics & Principles. In addition, permaculture organically & mutually integrates human needs with climate, landscapes, plants, animals, structures & community.”
There are many examples of permaculture principles at your property – what are your favourites?Some of our favourite principled design elements include: Catch & Store energy: our outdoor woodfired oven that gives us at least 3 days cooking from one initial burn. Design from Patterns to Detail: the orchard on water harvesting contour swales, provides a range of fruit year-round and is an evolving habitat for our farm’s wildlife. Use Small & Slow Solutions: the duck pond doubling as a silt trap that overflows into a series of smaller swale silt traps for slowing water movement, collecting nutrient dense silt/soil for re-use in surrounding gardens. Use Edges & Value the Marginal: the Hybrid Shade House for tender sub-tropical production that doubles as the Quail Amazon. Integrate Rather than Segregate: the main poultry run that integrates duck layers, duck breeders, chicken layers, exclusion grow tunnels, firewood storage and micro food forest.and not to forget Produce no Waste: the ‘Gentleman’s Pissatorium’ that inoculates hay bales in readiness for hot composting.
Your website talks about building a positive future for yourselves as well as the community. How important are community networks and what activities are you involved in?
Our regional network groups are the anchor to build community resilience & a skilled & sharing community! We have many hard-working groups including other permaculture educators, Permaculture Hunter, Young Farmers Connect, Hunter Organic Growers, Slow Food Hunter Valley, local Landcare groups… just to name a few. These groups along with Limestone Permaculture & our local town groups underpin our community engagement, inclusive planning, local skill development & volunteer strengthening. Our latest community initiative is the design, planning & implementation of a Permaculture Micro-Farm at Gloucester High School (NSW) with stage one earth works nearing completion.
It’s been a rocky 2020 so far for many. How has this impacted on your property – and did you make any changes in your property design?
There is no doubt that the last twelve months has many reassessing their current way of life and future goals. Debilitating drought, devastating bushfires & pandemic isolation has proven to be an important time for observation, analysis & interaction. The pandemic reinforced our determination as a family unit to continue to upskill & educate ourselves, make & create, grow, produce, preserve and share all that we do. It also further emboldened our passion for resilience, yet reaffirmed the importance to be part of a supportive & regenerative regional network. During the drought & bushfires, the overall design held true and it made for a great opportunity to take note of the farms various systems & elements, what survived, what thrived and what failed.
Some of the changes we made and are still making include:
- Additional north to west facing deciduous trees to eliminate afternoon summer sun
- Additional bio-fertiliser barrel spreaders & overflow water storage to enhance water security & soil life
- Overhead Animal Arbours to promote shade in summer and expand growing areas
- Additional exclusion tunnels to assist shading annual crops as part of the function.
You’ve been doing Zoom presentions for community groups during the pandemic and in lieu of payment, asked for groups to donate to Permafund instead – thank you! Why did you choose to donate to Permafund?Apart from charitable groups & individuals, Permafund offers those making a living from their Permaculture Ethical & Principled Businesse to share the abundance on another level, not unlike sharing produce and knowledge within your community. We may not always have the opportunities or capabilities to assist with projects outside of our region but donating through Permafund, which is part of our Fair Share Ethic, is a way we can help to support those that can. This support assists projects to ‘Care for the Earth’ & ‘Care for People’ & life in general.
What is coming up for the rest of 2020 – and any final messages?
With only one PDC to complete this year due to restrictions & our shortened time frame, we are undertaking various on-farm projects & expanding upon our food production. We are constantly upgrading the farm to also enhance the experience for future students & visitors alike. Our usual busy schedule of farming, homesteading, educating, consultation, regional projects and community support continues as does our passion for knowledge & experience! We see 2020 as an opportunity for reflection and positive change for many. Daily life is no longer as dependable. We all feel the need for safety & degrees of self-reliance. From healthy soils to a healthy gut (and everything in between), we are making it our business to pass on as much of our knowledge & skills as possible to hopefully enable others to live healthier & happier lives.
Limestone Permaculture are a professional member of Permaculture Australia, the national permaculture member based organisation. Not a member? Sign up and join us here today.
PA’s Permafund has provided dozens of small grants to permaculture community projects in Australia and internationally. Donations over $2 are tax deductible in Australia and can be set up as recurring or one off donations. Find out more including how to donate here
Limestone Permaculture provide property tours, design consultancy, permaculture courses (PDC and intro courses), school farm tours and a farm gate stall. For more details check out their website, Facebook and Instagram page(s). Watch and listen to more about Limestone Permaculture via the Happen Films podcast and short film below.
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