Tuesday, 24th November graced us with a fine Summer’s day to visit Kendall Permaculture Farm . Evita and I have followed Tom and Zaia’s permaculture life for many years and seen Tom in many youtube videos. On a rare break away from our homestead in Stanthorpe, we were fortunate to be accepted for a tour around the farm by Tom and later joined Zaia for tea.
The farm is situated in a lush valley with quite high hills surrounding the farm. This is subtropical forest zone with around 1500mm average annual rainfall. My impression of Tom being a workaholic is confirmed within minutes of starting to walk around. He loves to try new things and tweak existing systems as needed. The large worm grease trap for the greywater system is the latest system to be trialled for handling kitchen and shower water.
Shower and kitchen building made from reclaimed materials with Tom’s teaching space between the two buses behind. Tom has taught PDCs for many years and has recently moved to making his teaching available online as well. They have also recently transitioned to a pay what you can model for all their services so that no-one is excluded because of financial hardship.
There are a few of these rocket stove and oven combo units around the buildings. These are built with natural materials on site: clay, cow manure, sand, and straw. They are efficient and can burn sticks up to small split wood.
It was interesting to see the food production systems. Irrigation comes from a large dam higher up in the landscape and the pathways and beds are on contour for passive watering from rainfall.
Staples are cassava, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. A couple of large swales above the food system areas soak in large rainfall events to hydrate the landscape. The main nitrogen fixing nurse tree used in the food forest area is the ‘ice cream bean’ (Inga edulis). This is chopped and dropped and also used for goat forage. Bananas are a common sight and tree mugwort and arrowroot extensively used as understory biomass accumulators.
The syntropic garden is another new growing technique that is being implemented. This is a high intensity
growing system of trees integrated with vegetables. In the photo below there are eucalypts, bananas, avocados, cassava, coffee, leucaena (perennials) intercropped with annuals of lettuce, kale, eggplants, and so on… a huge variety. So this is a type of agroforestry system and is used to grow vegetables for local food boxes.
The chicken system is designed to minimise grain consumption (and purchase). There are a series of fenced areas which are rotated in: growing “clucker tucker”, cutting for forage, being scratched and prepared for sowing, and one section for processing of biodigester effluent. This low input system builds soil while providing nutritious eggs and meat.
The goat system is integral to the maintenance of the whole growing system (zones 1-3). Bushes and trees are pruned daily and taken to this goat area to provide the goats with forage in their manger. Once stripped of leaves and bark these are piled nearby and then periodically chipped and used back in the growing area. The goats are happy and healthy because they get a diverse woody plant diet as well as grass graze when they are let out to paddocks for a period later each day. Some are milked every morning and produce one or two kids each year.
Cattle are also part of the farm and are managed in a rotational mob grazing system using a combination of permanent and electric fences. This laneway is an example of multi-function as it is also a swale on contour that catches and soaks in rain during heavy falls.
Tom and Zaia are clearly very passionate about Permaculture and living a producer lifestyle that
also gives many people the opportunity to come and learn by helping and doing. Their offering
of information on their website, in videos, and in workshops and courses further enables
countless people to learn and be inspired. They are a real asset to their local community.
Plenty of useful and interesting resources can be found on their website: https://permeco.org/