Bulldozers are often seen as symbols of destruction, but when they are in the hands of a permaculture designer they bring about a transformation of rural landscapes beyond anything that can be achieved by hand. Yandoit Farm, between Castlemaine and Daylesford in Central Victoria, is undergoing a five-year wholefarm makeover. In April this year, many litres of diesel were burned in a permaculture festival of earth moving! These once-in-a-lifetime landscape improvements were carried out alongside an earthworks course so that students could get direct experience of the process.
When Michael and Lisa Jackson bought this beautiful 140 acre property along the Jim Crow Creek, they took on a going concern, with tractors, equipment, a shed full of hay … and cows, lots of them. With a great sense of responsibility for their sixtysix newly acquired family members, they dived into everything bovine. Michael said, ‘It wasn’t long before we noticed health issues emerging within the herd. Although minor and considered “normal” by traditional farming folk, we weren’t comfortable with this. A friend introduced us to Pat Colby’s book Natural Farming [Scribe Publications, 2004] which provided many of the answers. The overgrazing had depleted key minerals and compacted the soil drastically, reducing its microbial biodiversity. Sick soil = sick pasture = sick cows, and so the quest began. We are fortunate to have David Holmgren, Dan Palmer and Darren Doherty in the area and, as well as drawing on their advice, we have completed our PDCs and are fully focused on the regeneration of Yandoit Farm.’