Commercial Farm ProjectsGeneralLand

A Small Acreage Permaculture Makeover (NSW, Australia)

The original look of the property immediately around the house

The intention with this property in Alstonville, NSW, Australia, is to reduce lawn and landscaping management by using the space and effort to produce organic food for the owner’s consumption as well as to produce an excess for the local Farmers’ Market.

The system will be developed using specific opportunities for appropriate design to develop select areas over about 5 acres of a 40-acre property. Much of the property on the outer zones is forest, environmental management and grazing.

The first part of the project is to turn lawn and landscape areas immediately around the house into long term productive systems. This will include raised bed areas for vegetables and annual production and multiple mini food forest areas that will include fruit trees, ground covers, in-ground crops, shrubs and support species.

The outer zones for habitat and grazing

The total project includes a contour dam of about 300 sq mts surface area, approximately 500 sq mts of swales, seedling propagation house, 100 chickens for meat and egg production and we are investigating a larger dam opportunity for fish, habitat and water management. The contour dam will take advantage of highway and hillside run off to collect water in a ‘high dam’ opportunity that can be gravity fed to the ‘front lawn’ vegetable gardens and the food forest areas.

See the photos of the initial stages of transformation of this property during the month of November 2012 and stay tuned to this site for progress reports.

Preparing the frames for the beds

Filling the frames with earth and high mineral fertiliser

Rows of beds covered with compost and ready for planting

The finished beds, first planting out then mulching spaces designed for ride on
mower maintenance until interspaces become consumed by further
planting over time.

More garden beds prepared for mini food forest

Planting ‘blueberry patch’ and strawberries

Clearing 50 ornamentals for fruit tree planting

Ornamental shrubs removed to be replaced by food forest

Replacing 50 shrubs with 50 fruit trees
‘Transforming high maintenance into high production’

This ends November update. Now begins December developments with earthworks, swales, berms, contour dam and roads.

Checking topsoil depth and saving for top-dressing dam wall

Setting out the levels and stripping topsoil

Stockpiling topsoil

Striping topsoil to get to clay layer

Early veggies just 3 weeks after planting – ‘fast forward food’

Clay pit on site will provide clay for dam lining

Happy owners excited earthworks have begun

Contour dam takes, shape this will hold more than 100,000
gallons or half a million litres of ridge top water.

200m long swale will collect water into contour dam on ridge

12 tack-hoe compacts dam wall

Contour dam 15m long x 8m wide x 4m deep, lined with clay from site.

The finished Dam

Here follows pictures for January 2013.

Here follows pictures for February 2013.

Growth is often accelerated on swales. The diversity of plants supports the
diversity of soil microorganisms and promotes fertility.

‘Food for all’ in just a few weeks.
The front lawn becomes an organic supermarket.

Owners Bev and Tony enjoying their permaculture paradise

A fabulously full dam


Paul Taylor is an absolute soil wizard. Why not get connect with Paul on his



  1. I met Bev and Tony at Kay Baxter’s ‘Food Resilience through Seed Saving’; such a lovely couple.

    Thanks Paul for the story and pictures. It’s wonderful to be able to see the positive results of their – and your – commitment to turning this property from a conventional farm into something much more sustainable.

  2. I love the shot of the 50 ornamentals getting wiped away to make way for edibles! Oh wait – I’ve fallen prey to the vice of speciesism….

  3. Great to see! Would really love to come take a look at this because I live in the local area and my Wife and I will soon be looking for acreage to do all the exciting Permaculture stuff!

    The owners should do an open day!!

  4. Trust Natures Bio-Vital system is responsible for establishing a system of natural fertility that you see with the growth rates and the reconstruction of less fertile soils into more fertile soils. We use bio-fertiliser made on site, Bio-Vital composting and the applications of soil pro-biotic (specialist compost tea). This means that 80% of the input requirements of the system are made on site for a fraction of the cost of commercially available inputs….a saving of 75% of input costs is realistic, pure profit for the growers, no freight, no middle men, no packaging and marketing and no waste, many of the products are from on site waste streams, converting ‘waste’ into fertility into vital foods, virtually growing ‘food for free’. Many thanks for everyones help and support..and for the commitment of the owners. regards: Paul Taylor

  5. Great photos, and I hope the design has worked really well for you!

    Swales can be so important when dispersing water across the land – and I’m really impressed with the size of the dam created. Well done!

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