Bronwyn’s urban backyard is teeming with diversity. It is providing local families with nutritious food through her Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), but she doesn’t think she is doing anything exceptional. Students from Mulloon Creek Natural Farm’s Permaculture Design Certificate course recently visited Bronwyn Richards’ home in Braidwood, NSW, Australia. They learnt how an urban gardener manages to provide a constant supply of organic vegetables not only for her own family, but five others.
Bronwyn’s bountiful garden doesn’t stop at the boundary of her house block. In true spirit of community and fair share, friendly neighbours have gladly let her use area that they don’t use, allowing Bronwyn to garden over an acre. So the hothouse can be found in the next door neighbour’s backyard this year and the turkeys forage under a neighbour’s old orchard.
As a passionate, down to earth, organic gardener, she has combined different methods, such as biodynamics and permaculture principles. The options she chooses suit her needs. For example, commercial day old ducklings and chicks are bought and raised free range for meat by hens that are “good mothers”. And the good mothers continue providing nutritious eggs.
Ducks, chickens and turkeys happily roam around the garden and the sheep (and sometimes, pigs) are kept amused down the back. Extra potatoes have been sown to give the next round of pigs something interesting to do while rooting around. In between the poultry and four legged creatures are the garden beds, regularly rotated with a diverse array of vegetables. Bronwyn’s philosophy is that if the animals and vegetables are happy and healthy, then when consumed by us, that essence is passed on.
The CSA model allows a close and flexible relationship with customers. Each week she emails them with a list of seasonal produce and the customers put in their orders. First in, first served. When there is an abundance of one vegetable, it is included in all the customer’s boxes. Sometimes customers are given something new for tasting. They can also ask Bronwyn to grow certain vegetables. As a grower, she finds it’s fantastic to have a consistent customer base. As Bronwyn is the gardener, she is at the natural limit of households she can provide for.
Bronwyn would encourage all of us to get in the garden and “just give it a go”.