Permaculture in Action

Monday, September 2, 2013

Market Gardening the Permaculture Way

A typical medium sized box.
Mark and I started growing food for others just over ten years ago, with the goal to provide fresh, biodynamic produce. We wanted this food to reflect the seasons and be typical of the everyday variety of food that people would use during their week. We also wanted to keep our market local. It was at this time (not long after we moved from the little mud brick house) that we stumbled upon the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) through a book called Farms of Tomorrow Revisited by Trauger Groh and Steven McFadden. This form of production links our farm directly to the people who will consume our food and it fits in well with these permaculture principles:
  • Apply self regulation and accept feedback: This system allows for immediate feedback --  If we are growing things that our customers don't want we can discontinue production. On the other hand, if there's something they do want, we can try and cater to their needs. If our customers are struggling with menu options with regard to what's in their box, we offer menu guides and recipes. Within this principle also lies our decision to only provide food for those living in the local area. This self-regulation arises from the awareness of our personal responsibility for the appropriate use of a finite resource as well as building connections in our local community.

  • Produce no waste: We only produce enough of the perishable types of vegies to satisfy our customers' needs, so there is very little waste. With produce that can be preserved, we offer preserving workshops at a discount to our customers so that they can take advantage of the gluts of the seasons. We reuse all packaging for things like salad mixes, snow peas, berries etc. in the form of donated recycled plastic containers.

  • Integrate rather than segregate: The CSA model is seen as a co-operative relationship between the farmer and subscribers. Our subscribers support us as farmers to produce their food. We in turn listen to their needs and deliver to them the produce they desire. They are in effect part of the farm organism and are encouraged to visit and participate.

  • Use and value diversity: It goes without saying that we are a polyculture for all the obvious reasons, but as a CSA farm we love the opportunity to provide a diverse range of vegetables for our customers.

  • Creatively use and respond to change: By providing seasonal produce, with recipe ideas we are helping our customers to respond to change creatively. It has been difficult for some of our subscribers to adapt to a menu plan based around seasonal produce rather than the year-round availability of all produce in the supermarkets.

  • Use small and slow solutions: Local food distribution of ''perishable food reduces food miles and speed. (Perishable food brought from great distances demands fast transport).'' David Holmgren, Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability.

And of course our mandala market gardens, inspired by Linda Woodrow's book Permaculture Home Garden, are based on permaculture principles.

Permaculture is not all about growing food. It's about embracing the ethics and principles of Permaculture in all aspects of your life. If this excites you as much as it does us, why not come along to our next Permaculture Design Course due to start in October, for two weeks of thought provoking, life changing fun.


  1. I'm doing a PDC in Melb at the moment and loving every time I read another article or post about how people incorporate it and the the principles into their lives. Thanks for the book link on CSAs, it sounds really interesting.

  2. You are doing fantastic work with this Kate and I love that it is such a great example of Linda Woodrow's gardening techinques in your mandela area. I used to think that everyone should just grow their own veges, but I have come to realise that not every single person has a green thumb ,just like every single person can't play the piano. It is great that the people who don't have time or can't grow their own food have CSA to fall back on.
    And anyone who does want to grow their own food could not have a better example of 'grow your own' than Purple Pear farm.

    1. Oh thankyou Kim. So very nice of you to say such lovely things about us