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Life at Zaytuna – Part I

Profuse apologies for the lack of posts over the last week. I’ve been organising and actioning travel to PRI’s headquarters – Zaytuna Farm in northern NSW – from where I live in Europe. Now that I’m here, I hope to give you better insights into the life and developments on the farm and with the training centre that makes its home here.

Zaytuna’s straw bale buildings at sun-up

Yesterday I felt like the walking dead, after 45 hours of travel from door to farm. As such, I went out like a light in the very early evening. My otherwise deep sleep was broken intermittently by sounds I’m not accustomed to hearing, like Blue (an Australian stumpy tailed cattle dog) keeping our farm animals and crops safe by chasing off foxes and/or kangaroos; kookaburras – the ‘laughing jackass’ – were seemingly mocking me as I tried to slumber, as were various other frogs, insects and birds that work the night shift in this neck of the woods. I’m sure I’ll soon be attuned to them, and won’t hear them at all after a while.

The Zaytuna world wakes up

This morning a few of us went to the nearby Channon Market – one of the oldest community markets in the region. The market takes place on the second Sunday of every month, so my arrival yesterday made great timing. I took my camera and a huge appetite along (rumour had it they have great falafels and other items that are near and dear to me).

A small portion of the market

I went with an ‘Orgazmic Falafel’ for breakfast this time around

The market boasts a plethora of goods – from organic produce, seedlings and livestock, to sustainably made clothing, arts and crafts, books and more. It was an interesting place to wander around, to be sure.

Nadia and I spotted a poultry breeder unloading his goods, with Nadia immediately gravitating toward it – on the hunt to replace some birds that had been taken out by foxes on the only night Blue the dog had been tied up (proving his immense usefulness – the knowledge of this fact makes me much more forgiving of his barks as I slumber…). Geoff and Nadia ultimately bought a goose pair (emden cross), a large muskovy drake, and a couple of chickens (an isa brown cross rooster and a white sussex rooster).

Stall owner juicing by pedal power

Interestingly, Roger the breeder (pictured above) spoke in the course of the discussion of how he was being harassed by the RSPCA, who deem it cruel to sell birds at a market stall and are threatening to shut him down (he was expecting them to show up today as well). I was rather astonished, despite being aware of many such absurdities in this so-called modern world. These animals were obviously well cared for and looked in top health. This was in stark contrast to the birds I’ve seen in factory farm conditions – birds that limp, have virtually no feathers left (from rubbing up against cages), and that evidence many other signs of poor health – like a completely drooping comb, etc. Roger’s operation is similar to that of millions of small scale breeders who have operated for thousands of years. I can’t help but wonder what the Australian RSPCA would do if they were to open a branch in one of the south-east asian countries, like Vietnam or Thailand, etc.? The mind boggles.

click image to read the sign

Instead of picking on the little guy that is working conscientiously on a healthy small scale, how I wish they could focus their attentions on the large corporations who are doing quite the opposite. I complained about this in depth recently (see also here and here).

Some people use their stalls to make more than just money. A good example was the gentleman at right, who was simultaneously selling clothing and making a point as well – complaining about BHP Billiton’s latest plans.

It’d be great to see small markets dotted all over our western landscape – encouraging millions of people to become small scale suppliers of healthy, chemical free, conscientiously produced goods. If we could do that, then even markets like this one could become more sustainable – in the sense that if we had small markets everywhere, we could walk and cycle to them, thus eliminating the transport and associated car parks more isolated markets require.

Geoff and Chris release the two new geese into their temporary housing.
Once they’re settled in, they’ll be allowed to roam free.



  1. Pretty orgazmic Frank – although since I’ve been living in a falafel desert for the last few years, I may have lost my skills as a falafel connoisseur? Still, even as a falafel amateur, I felt pretty orgazmic about it.

  2. My 4 Geese are fantastic lawnmowers. They dont do much else around the place. I am a vego so they wont become food – pehaps one day they will lay me an egg?

  3. Hi Craig!

    My name is Nuno Cardoso and I´m from Portugal, but working in London at the moment.
    It´s so nice to see pictures of places where I spent an amazing 2 weeks back in 2006. Where are you from Craig? And yes those falafels are veryyyyyyy good. Say hello to Geoff for me please!

    Big cheerio!

    Nuno “Moonbah”

  4. Hi Craig

    thanks for all your work on the PRI website: your contributions have been an invaluable source of information and a great starting point for getting further educated about all sorts of all-too-relevant subjects – climate change, credit crunch, corporations, and peak oil.

    I too am interested to hear that you are based in Europe. how did you come into contact with PRI Australia? Where is it you are based? (We are in the Netherlands.) Maybe there’s some possibility for collaborative work that we might explore?


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