“I’m a country girl at heart, enjoying the wide-open spaces around me. I love being creative and am always trying to learn new things and educate myself on different topics. I’m currently working through my Diploma in Permaculture. I’m a dreamer and an optimist trying to see the positive side of life. “
This week we share a story from PA Professional member Stephanie Cutmore, from Indara Farms located in Meckering , Western Australia. Stephanie has completed a Permaculture Design Course and Accredited Permaculture Training (Certificate III and currently finishing Certificate IV) with Candlelight Farm Permaculture and Permaculture Educators Alliance. She is now completing her Diploma in Permaculture and setting up a permaculture business.
“As soon as I had my first baby, I had this sudden urge that I wanted to be back on a rural property. Wanting the freedom and outside connection that I wasn’t getting from being crammed into an estate in town. We were also becoming more and more aware of our food system and the challenges that it may face in the future. It didn’t stop me from starting right there in town to grow the odd fruit tree and seedlings before the time came to move further out into the country where I would have the space, I needed to really create a classroom and learn hands-on how to grow food for our family.”
“We grow food to take back some power and find sovereignty from the industrial food system, which I believe can be quite damaging to our environment and our health. We also grow food as a family activity to get the kids outside and inspiring them to eat more fresh vegetables & fruits. We live in a remote rural area where the supermarket is a 60km round trip and where it is hard to still buy organic fresh produce. Nothing beats being able to walk outside and pick something fresh for dinner, its our kind of take-away food. I like to know that we are helping to reduce our food miles and that the produce I grow hasn’t been sprayed or treated with any chemicals.”
“Our farmhouse sits on a block of 110acres (44ha). The raised vegetable garden is approx. 1011sqft or 94sqm & we also have a rotational grazing chicken system set up where we can grow food in-ground. We do have an Old Orchard and other area, as well as an old orchard and planned expansion area. I love buying Heirloom Varieties of Vegetables & fruit seeds, learning their stories and knowing these seeds have been passed down generations is just so inspiring. I get the chance to grow fruits & vegetables that I may have never tasted before or seen as they aren’t made to be shipped long distances and store well for the supermarket stand. We also have plans to create a “Drylands” permaculture Food forest which will include Fruit & Nut trees, Berries and Australian Native Bush foods.”
Obtain a yield, Produce no waste & Use and value diversity
“We like to leave mother nature to tell us what our soils require looking to the weeds for signs of what they are doing and what may be missing from the soils. We don’t like to disturb the soil & practice a no-dig method. We move livestock regularly and keep our soil covered as much as possible. We don’t spray any chemicals and encourage predators to the pests to live in the garden, realizing that this may take some years to build up a more even playing field. We are building a worm farm and compost bays to add natural fertilisers back to the soil. We also add back any scraps to our soils feeding the worms. The chickens manure gets composted and spread around as necessary. We have also experimented with Chop & Drop Crops & Using Native Wattles as well. We are continuing our self-education on the intricacy of soils all the time by observation and research. I currently have a number of plants such as Silver beet, Radicchio, Corn & Zucchini I’m letting go to seed. You always get an abundance when you save your own so sharing them with family and friends feels empowering.”
“Where we live our average annual rainfall is between 250mls- 350mls annually so the lack of rain can make gardening in summer tough with the extreme heat and strong winds. Trying to grow vegetables that we have become accustomed to eating in a semi-arid climate where they may not want to grow. Unfortunately, we also have some introduced pests such as parrots & rabbits that are very damaging to the native environment and will destroy a lot of our plants before they even have a chance to bare fruit. The biggest rewards are hands-down seeing the kids become acquainted with growing food and seeing how tiny seeds can grow into their favourite vegetables & fruits. Knowing that what ever they choose to eat from the garden is like eating Medicine, reducing our food miles and knowing exactly how that food was grown.”
“No one knows everything there is about growing food, it’s a constant learning curve. Making mistakes is a part of the process and nothing beats harvesting something you can eat that you grew yourself! The next most empowering thing you can do is saving those seeds.”
“I am a Permaculture Australia Member & an admin on a local “Permie” group on Facebook which we are in the process of organizing garden visits and a book club. We share information and cuttings and seeds when we can. I have completed formal education in Permaculture and continue to study. I share this journey and everything I am learning along the way, on my Instagram and have recently started Vlogging on YouTube to help inspire and share our knowledge with others who are trying to grow their own food. I have been able to share excess seeds & produce with family and other locals often being on the receiving end of their fruit gluts creating a community around local food. I don’t know where this journey will lead as I continue on this path, however I have big far-reaching dreams for the future. No body arrives at a destination without a long journey.”
Stephanie is a professional member of Permaculture Australia, the national permaculture member organisation. You can find out more and sign up as a member today here.
You can follow the journey of Indara Farms via their Instagram and You Tube channel for heaps of great inspiration and ideas for growing food, implementing permaculture ethics & principles, and building community in a semi arid climate zone.
Stephanie has completed the Accredited Permaculture Training (Certificate III and Certificate IV Permaculture) and is currently completed a Diploma in Permaculture. Find out more about the Accredited Permaculture Training offerings in your area, including online options here and here.
This interview was first published with the Humans Who Grow Food Social media group, with words and photos provided by Stephanie Cutmore, Indara Farms.