Brett Cooper and his family, of Limestone Permaculture Farm, hosted HOGS for our September Field Day.
Brett took us on a tour of his farm, sharing his permaculture knowledge and explaining how and why he has created his farm to uniquely suit his property.
He showed us his swales for growing fruit trees where Brett keeps a biomass groundcover of nasturtiums in winter, and pumpkins in summer. Eventually, when the swale trees are fully grown, the ducks will live there and be able to forage for bugs and snails.
Brett grows arrowroot and other edible underground tubers in his pond. The pond is also a good habitat for frogs and other beneficial wildlife.
A particular point of interest were the grapevines. Brett has used an old clothesline on which to grow grapevines and snow peas which are not only eaten, but chopped back onto the vine bases to supply the grapes with a good source of nitrogen. The seeds that remain can self sow in Autumn and continue the cycle of companion planting with the vines.
Brett explained that he can get a lot of frost and locals told him that he would be unable to grow tropical fruit trees. Determined to prove them wrong he explained how he protected his pawpaw tree from the cold by wrapping the trunk and fruit in hessian and putting a clear umbrella over the crown of the tree. The surrounding trees also served to protect the Mango tree, of which Brett proudly tells us he's really happy about the potential crop it will produce.
HOGS members were shown the market garden where Brett explained that some of his brassicas had failed. Even so, he was leaving them in the ground for the bugs, as well as the fact that you shouldn't leave a bed exposed.
Brett shared some Pepino cuttings, mulberries and told us he loves to barter his goods and welcomes any offers.
It was a wonderfully warm day, and we thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the tidbits of advice and discussion with Brett.