Author Archives: Planet Claire Farms

Farm structures 101

So what do you do when you need to build a shelter for an upcoming course, at very low cost? You call in Shane, and a couple of interns, and send them out around the farm to gather materials and get building.

I thought we’d be gathering already milled timber, but oh how I was wrong, and oh how I was excited. We headed out to the wooded area and assessed the area for suitable trees! That’s right, we got to cut down trees to make the posts for our ‘building’. The trees there are young and crowded so they could do with a clearing out to enhance the growth of the remaining ones. Shane located some ‘yellow box’ eucalypts approximately 20cm in diameter and cut them down. Ashley and I then spent a good 30 mins hitting the fallen trees with the back of an axe, completely stripping it of it’s bark. We had to strip the bark to avoid compromising the post hole when the bark rotted, and it had to be done quickly or it became near impossible to get off. I was blown away both by the ease at which the bark came away from the trunk and the colour of the inner bark, the brighest yellow I have ever seen.

   

Next we had to get the auger and drill some holes, Shane makes removing the excess dirt look easy, it wasn’t! Ashley and I were getting 3 grains of sand to Shane’s 200000. He says you get better with practce, here’s hoping. The packing in of the dirt with the crowbar was the easy bit. I was once again amazed at how little dirt was required to hold the poles in place.

   

We also grabbed some old recylced hardwood and iron from around the farm and gave the structure some stability and a roof.

 

In no time at all and for very little money we have the perfect shelter for all our biofertiliser needs. And in true permaculture style, it will double as the place to store rubbish bins and non compostable wastes!

I can’t wait to get home and build one for the caravan, for storage and for water harvesting!

Claire

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Layer upon layer

With the market garden growing at a rapid rate, tree planting by the hundreds and the Bio-fertile farm workshop just around the corner, we are in desperate need of some compost. So it was off to collect all of our ingredients and make some compost lasagna.

It’s the ‘Berkley method’ of compost we are using here, also known as ‘Fast compost’. All our waste products will be converted into amazing soil full of all the nutrients and good bacteria to meet the needs of the plants, in 2-3 weeks. Yes, you did read it right, WEEKS. You have to see it to believe it.

We gathered our ingredients in no time at all. We needed high carbon content material and high nitrogen materials too. The right mix is 30:1. It’s important to break everything up into small pieces, both to increase the surface area the microbes get to sink their teeth into and to make it easier to turn with a fork.

Our ingredients we found around the farm, and from the local racetrack that gives away as much horse manure soaked wood chips as you can shovel. We had Jerusalem artichoke stems, old compost pile leftovers, hessian bags, cardboard, horse manure, wood chips, hay, blood and bone, ash from the rocket stove, green manure, kitchen waste, even a dead fox! It’s important to water in each layer also and evenly spread the materials.

We layered each in an order of carbon and nitrogen needs into a removable cage and covered it with a tarp. After one day the temperature was at 20 degrees, tomorrow it should be at 65 degrees and ready for it’s first turn. We will then fork it like peeling an onion making a donut of compost and pile it into the cage again. We will repeat this process every time the compost gets to 65 degrees, and in 2 -3 weeks we will be ready to spread the love.

Claire

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From Melbourne to Milkwood

My name is Claire, I may be 890km from home but I have travelled less than that of my fellow interns, and boy is it worth the distance. I arrived at Milkwood just under 3 weeks ago and already I have learnt so much and am relishing in being part of such an amazing community of people. So why am I here?

I’m following my dream!

I have been nursing for the past 15 years and have seen no improvement in peoples health, we were always treating the symptoms, always in crisis management, always pushing pharmaceuticals as the way to better health. It didn’t sit right with me, I wanted a better solution, I wanted a healthier planet, healthier people, a healthier lifestyle for myself and to belong to a community. So my journey begins…

I completed my PDC in Walkamin, Far North Queensland in Sept 2010, after a chance meeting with the course convener and a chat about compost showers. After the course, I was hooked. I flew back to Melbourne, sold my house near the city, and headed off in search my my little piece of land to grow my dream. I found it in November, and at the end of January 2011 I was the proud owner of a 101 acres in Lake Fyans, at the foot of the Grampians National Park, Victoria, and declared, “I’m going to be a farmer!”

Which is why I’m here at Milkwood. To get hands on experiences, learn from the best in the business, improve my design skills, design my farm, add as many skills to my kit bag as I can and meet as many like minded people to share with as I can.

Then it’s off to my farm, Planet Claire, to implement my design and start living the dream. I want to become a leading example of regenerative, self-sustaining, chemical free, non-certified organic farming and share my knowledge with the wider community. Empowering and encouraging my community to be healthy, and ensuring myself, my family, and my friends (and our children’s, children’s, children’s children) have a paradise to enjoy that provides them with all there needs for a long, healthy, peaceful life.

I hope you enjoy the journey with me,

Claire

Making clay render for the tiny house, the locals pay us a visit, designing a water overflow management system then implementing that design, getting dirty cleaning and re-cobbing the rocket shower!

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