General

An Opportunity

I recently completed Geoff Lawton’s Online Permaculture Design Course and the PDF I submitted is attached for readers to peruse.

At the age of 75 I am no longer physically able to manage the work of running a large accommodation business and the extended property, but do not wish to sell my home and farm. I am in good health and anticipate I could live into my late nineties as did my parents. For some time I have been interested in transition towns and intentional communities. While participating in the OPDC I was intrigued when Geoff Lawton described Land Share Trusts and this influenced my final submission. I have noted the possible ways in which my property could be developed to establish a number of Livings.

My late husband was German born and I have visited Germany a number of times. I was fascinated by the manner in which villages had been established as a cluster of houses with the farmers going out from the village to work their small sections of land. It is this land use concept that I consider could be practised by Lessees living in Glen Aplin while sharing the use of my land.

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Wolferborn, Hessen, Germany

The village of Glen Aplin is 1km from the entrance to my farm. The village has a State primary school with 75 children, a daily bus link to Stanthorpe, a community hall, church, service station, convenience store, post office, Country Women’s Association and a Bushfire brigade. The district enjoys a good community ethic of working together and in recent years held quarterly markets to raise money to renovate the hall. I consider that the proximity of my farm to the village of Glen Aplin offers all the advantages of living within a village community which I witnessed in Germany.

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I recognise that many young people are unlikely to be able to afford to buy a farm and I am offering to make it possible for ethical persons to utilize my land to assist them to achieve their dreams. I believe that no portion of my land would provide sufficient income for a full Living for a number of years while in the establishment period.

I believe only those persons willing to live within close proximity to my farm should consider taking on a lease, because of time and costs associated with travelling distances. Lessees could rent or buy a home in the village of Glen Aplin or stay in one of the two large Caravan Parks situated within 5 kilometres.

I have lived on farms all my life and learned to read my land. As result I have proposed several ways in which my farm could be divided into Permaculture zones to be utilized by Lessees for different purposes.

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I recognise that many PDC graduates lack their own farm or facilities where they could host students while conducting a course. I would be willing to lease to a PDC teacher the guest accommodation which includes 4 double rooms and 4 self-contained apartments, plus a kitchen and dining room. Such a lease would be priced to cover costs at such times as a PDC teacher could assemble a group of students.

A PDC teacher could also earn income by pursuing one of the other options by leasing a segment of the farm should they wish to do so. Alternatively a PDC teacher from another region might merely wish to take advantage of the facilities available.

I irrigate my Zone 1 garden by using a solar pump which was installed beside a dam in 2011. Prior to that date I used a petrol powered pump at the river. I possess an irrigation license which entitles me to draw water from the Severn River to irrigate 10 acres (4 hectares) but I have never farmed this land.

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While I have made suggestions about possible uses of the Zones throughout the farm along the lines of animal husbandry and horticulture with which I am familiar, I am open to other suggestions from Lessees who may have experience within different enterprises. Any Lessee with knowledge of aquaculture might see this abundance of water as an opportunity to establish fish ponds. Another Lessee may propose growing aquatic plants.

A requirement of any person wishing to become a Lessee would be that they had had completed a PDC and could present me with a Business Plan covering their proposed use of my land. It would be expected that any Lessee interested in taking up one of the options may have other contacts within the larger Permaculture community and would set out to attract like minded persons to investigate the possibility of joining in such a proposed intentional community.

I believe that within ten years this farm would become an inspiration to other farmers because of the manner that Lessees practicing Permaculture had transformed the property into a productive model farm. It would be an example of committed persons imbued with Permaculture ethics working together for the improvement of the land and enrichment of their local community.

If any reader of this post is interested in the concept I have proposed I would suggest that they download the PDF here and contact me for further information.

About the Author

Fay Helwig is the owner of Das Helwig Haus B&B near Stanthorpe on the Granite Belt established in 1993. Since 1996 Fay’s garden and The Remembrance Field of Red Flanders Poppies, dedicated to the fallen of all wars, is open to the public every year during October and November. Fay also has her own blog site that you can visit here.

7 Comments

  1. Wow Mrs. Helwig, you have a beautiful farm that you’ve plotted wonderfully! I wish I was in Austrailia and not the state’s right now, for so many reasons! I’m currently studying permaculture through the online regenerative leadership institute. I hope to finish with the course with my design idea, a two fold win-win that uses crops planted for soil reclamation to render into an environmentally friendly, safe, biodegradable plastic-replacement product. I figured out the principles, just need to apply the various math to produce various consistancys of material. I was hoping to outsource any patenting from my country, because I know corporations like DuPont would want to destroy me. I dream of someday having a farm to work like yours. If Austrailia would be interested, I would be willing to trade my patent idea for citizenship for myself and my children. I would then gladly work for free to help achieve local self sustainability.

  2. Great article, Fay.
    We live too far apart unfortunately, but your idea is inspiring and I hope you can make some people very happy with your generous offer.
    I guess some people would even be happy living on the land in a Tipi/Yurt, just as “The Market Gardener” J-M Fortier did in Canada the first years of his starting business, now well established and world renowned.
    I wish you many more happy, healthy and inspiring years to come.
    From Flanders, with love.
    Steven

  3. This is really interesting and a great Idea. I’m glad you pointed out that it would take time to get sections up to income status. I think that the only way these things are going to work is if all parties accept that they have to take responsibility for making their own income. The community idea is what we want at our farm but there are hurdles such as sharing responsibility and regulatory impediments. Go for it!

  4. Anyone seeking further information can write to me at the email address which appears on the first page of my submission. I’ll happily answer all questions.

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