It is a dream of ours to one day own a small patch of land on this blessed continent and be able to call ourselves farmers. In my mind, a person who applies themselves to feeding others in their community is someone to be admired. It’s hard, honest work and I’d love to be a part of it.
On the weekend my wife and I entertained this dream and attended the “You can farm” masterclass by Joel Salatin, hosted by the folks at Milkwood permaculture. We purchased the tickets for each other as a Christmas present so it has been eagerly awaited, and it did not disappoint.
It was a early trip from Canberra towards the seaside town of Kiama, NSW. The journey through the southern highlands is particularly scenic, especially passing through the rolling green hills of Jamberoo. Had it not been raining, I would have been probably stopped at every corner of the road to get out and take another photograph.
Joel has an amazing amount of energy and his passion is infectious. He ran us through some of the methods employed on his property – Polyface Farm – based in Virginia, USA, demonstrating that you can dramatically increase the health and productivity of the land in even the harshest climate by using natural inputs and different animal systems. He’s not afraid of doing things differently and the results speak for themselves – the difference between his land, and his neighbours was amazing.
He also covered at length the greatest barrier to rolling up ones sleeves and getting stuck in – the cost of entry. This is certainly true in our case, and with all the 10 acre lifestyle properties being snapped up in the rural outskirts of Canberra, it is making land ownership any less than an hours drive away extremely unaffordable. Well Joel had an innovative solution to this problem – he revealed that only a small fraction of his farmland is owned, while the rest is leased, and by using low cost, portable, farming infrastructure he could pack it up up in a day or two and shift it somewhere else if needed. Land ownership needn’t stop you from farming.
It’s got the brain ticking…
The whole event was very professionally organised and full credit goes to the team at Milkwood for putting on a great day. If you are ever presented with a chance to see Joel in person I would encourage anyone interested in farming to seize the opportunity.