Market Gardening: The Happy Farmer

Is it possible to run a market garden using permaculture principles in the middle of the desert and make it viable?

On the outskirts of Alice Springs in view of Tjoritja, the MacDonnell Ranges, with the red desert sands stretching for thousands of kilometres from his back fence, Rod Angelo runs a market garden. Known as The Happy Farmer, Rod supplies fresh greens to the residents of Alice Springs, and he makes his business viable by turning waste streams into inputs that would otherwise cost money.

The climate in The Alice is unforgiving to growers. Miss just a single one day of watering and you will have to start again. With temperatures regularly over 40 ºC during summer, growing food is an art and requires dedication and local knowledge in equal measure.

Space And Knowledge

Rod didn’t plan to be a market gardener. It started when he was at home looking after his young sons and he began gardening while they were sleeping.

‘It just got a bit out of control and I kept expanding,’ he grins. He and his partner Anna lived on a small block in