Shopping Cart

No products in the cart.

Fair Harvest Permaculture

fair-harvest-permaculture
fair-harvest-permaculture
fair-harvest-permaculture

Clockwise from above right: Jodie harvesting for juices; Dorothee in the garden; Fresh garden produce; Jodie in the artichokes. Photos by Robyn Rosenfeldt


fair-harvest-permaculture

Fair Harvest Permaculture is a testament to Jodie Lane and her dedication to community. Created over the last two decades, Fair Harvest is everything a permaculture demonstration site should be: a living, breathing example of permaculture principles in action, honouring the three permaculture ethics. But it is not the physical examples of permaculture that are most striking; it’s the community involvement that stands out the most.

Although Jodie is the heart and soul of Fair Harvest she has not made it what it is today on her own. Over the years she’s made it a hub for her local community and people passing through, who want to learn more about permaculture; feeding them, sharing her home with them and sharing her knowledge.

The 145 hectare property on the edge of Margaret River, 270 kilometres south of Perth WA, was bought by her parents in 1986 as degraded farmland with very few trees. Today it is a thriving example of working permaculture systems, with a focus on regenerative farming.

History

Jodie moved to the farm in 1995 with her partner Chris and daughter Oli, who was three at the time. Her parents had recently completed their new home on the other side of the property, and vacated the farmhouse that Jodie moved into.

At the time they were part of a core group that started up the South West Blockade, defending the south-west forests of WA from logging. The farm became the unofficial headquarters and sanctuary from the blockade, which soon turned into an intentional community of like-minded people living together on the farm.

‘The blockade was fighting against the world we didn’t want, and the farm was creating the world we did want: we planted trees, grew all our own food, had a common purse, ate all our meals together, had regular heart circles, ran courses and it was a really functional community – while we were doing it, we did really well’, says Jodie. ’There was a core group of around a dozen people, and always a lot of WWOOFers and other people passing through. It was a pretty amazing ten to twelve years.’

Family

Jodie now lives on the property with four generations of her family. She lives with her partner Dorothee Perez in the converted barn. Jodie’s daughter Oli and her three children live in the farmhouse nearby. Her parents live on the other side of the property, and her brother lives next to them in a separate house with his family.

Community

Fair Harvest is not only home to a large extended family; it’s also a meeting place and centre of learning for the local community, WWOOFers and students. Jodie and Dorothee: put on a community lunch each Thursday, made from produce from their garden, supplemented with other locally sourced goods; run Swap Shuffle Share, a food swap, on the third Tuesday of every month; and they have a full calendar of activities throughout the year, including beekeeping courses, PDCs, film nights, wellbeing retreats and events such as the Festival of Fibre which ran in November 2016.

‘Our aim is to use growing food as a way to interact with the community and encourage them to grow their own food, and I think we have definitely done that, particularly through the swap’, explains Jodie. ‘When we run the café, people can come and look through the gardens, and see how food is grown and get inspired. The younger generation moving here can find a way to get into food growing. I think we can say we’ve played a part in the increase in people growing food in their own backyards in the area.

‘We have also had hundreds of people come through here doing short courses and our PDCs. And WWOOFers, from all over the world, come to experience life on a functioning permaculture property.’

fair-harvest-permaculture

Left to right: Jodie and Dorothee in the garden; Fair Harvest sign post. Photos by Robyn Rosenfeldt

fair-harvest-permaculture

The Farm

The farm has developed over the twenty-two years that Jodie has been living there. You can see that time, thoughtful design and hard work have made it the amazing place that it is today. It has been a gradual process, made possible by all the people who have called Fair Harvest home.

Fair Harvest is a valuable demonstration site as there are many examples of appropriate technologies, and sustainable and regenerative farm management. Signs lead you through the property, explaining how things work.

Food Growing

The vegie garden and orchard, which are tended by Jodie’s partner Dorothee, are extensive and provide for Jodie and her family as well as the weekly lunch for thirty to fifty people, and students doing courses.

Dorothee works hard to create life in the soil. There are signs of soil regeneration throughout the garden, from the worm farms, compost piles and compost teas, to the heavily mulched beds and paths. The benefit of these is evident in the abundance of produce growing.

‘Some of the most important things we’re doing at our place are improving soil and increasing water retention through composting and animal management’, explains Jodie. ‘I really like the idea of regenerative agriculture, where we’re not simply being sustainable but we’re improving the land for future generations.’

They also cell graze cattle, supplementing their meat needs and improving pasture. Underneath the trees are beehives, improving pollination and providing honey.

Above it all, the windmill turns its slow circles, pumping water up from the creek to the holding tank above the garden, where it’s gravity fed back down. Swales snake through the property, diverting and catching water to help manage the flow.

A variety of buildings and elements are dotted around the place: a book exchange; a barn for events and the food swap; a cob oven; a straw bale bench seat; and, most striking, their tastefully converted machinery shed which is now the site for their weekly community lunch and courses, and is hired out for events such as weddings. Each has a story and is a monument to the people who helped build it or create it. The compost-powered shower is a perfect example of this (see Pip issue 2): built every year by a group of volunteers, the shower generates hot water to cater for the many people who pass through – the water stays hot for eleven months of the year.

These volunteers are like many of the people who have passed through Fair Harvest over the years, who were: cared for and fed by Jodie; left with new skills and knowledge learnt during their stay; and, in the process, helped create another part of this amazing place.

Jodie not only educates people through her property and her courses, but also through her blog, her Pip articles (see issues one, two, three and five) and her involvement in her local community. In 2014 Jodie was runner up in the Rural Women’s Award with her ‘Eat local’ project.

Eating Local

‘Eating local is something I’m passionate about. That simple act alone can change so many things. There is a huge amount of fuel spent in the packaging of products and their transportation around the globe. We have lost contact with our food and our growers, and no longer think seasonally. Actually I think there is a big environmental cost in not eating local. There is such a joy in going to the market and having a relationship with the people who grow your food’, Jodie says. As she walks around her local market people stop and say hello. She visits her regular suppliers, and supports them by including their produce in the many meals she prepares for people who come to her café and attend tours at the property.

fair-harvest-permaculture

Clockwise from top left: Worm farms provide nutrients for the soil; Gratitude for the garden; The converted barn which now hosts the weeekly lunches and courses. Photos by Robyn Rosenfeldt

fair-harvest-permaculture
fair-harvest-permaculture

Community Resilience

‘Supporting local producers creates a more resilient community. I don’t see how the world can continue on the track it’s going much longer. It’s highly possible that in our kids’ and grandkids’ lifetimes they’ll be forced into self-reliance. We need to start thinking: how self-reliant would we be in the face of catastrophe?’

Through her constant inclusion of people in her life and on her property, Jodie has created an amazing example of permaculture in action, and along the way has shared the knowledge she has. She’s educated people in her local community and also those who’ve passed through and who’ve then taken that knowledge back to their communities.

Find out more about Fair Harvest Permaculture at www.fairharvest.com.au.

Author

Leave a Reply