A farm that teaches as it grows




GREEN wing beans and red-stemmed spinach vines trail off a fence; purple-flowering amaranth grows thigh-high and chickens cluck and peck away happily in their movable chicken tractor, organically fertilising beds that will then be planted with Italian garlic.

In the distance, a dam is being dug and a mound of deep-red earth is being shaped into a swale along a contour of the hill to minimise water runoff.

Across another green field, a 1ha grove of tall bamboo comes into view, once used as a wedding photography location, now sparingly pruned and harvested for construction or mulched and spread onto gardens.

Welcome to the picturesque, yet productive world of Possum Creek farm - a stunning 40ha parcel of land in the Byron hinterland that once hosted weddings and is now being transformed into an organic market farm that will 

double as a permaculture learning centre to teach people how to grow their own food using nature as guide.

"Our goal is to reconnect people back to their food," one of Possum Creek's project managers, Andrew Cameron explained.

"People go to a supermarket to buy a packet of food in plastic packaging and they are disconnected between the food they eat and how it grows," he said.

"We want to educate people on behind the scenes of food production. There's no mystery about growing your own food. We inherently know this stuff. This loss of knowledge has only really happened in the last 50 years."

Possum Creek will run its first permaculture design course in August with leading permaculture educators, Nick Ritar from Milkwood Permaculture, Nick Huggins from Permaculture Exchange and Paul Taylor of Trust Nature.

"Permaculture is about design with a set of ethics and principles to help us to work with nature, not against it," Mr Cameron said.

"You don't need farmland to be able to apply permaculture principles, you can apply them in your own home," he said.

While Andrew Cameron and the Possum Creek team, including Wwoofers (willing workers on organic farms) ) are in the process of creating a commercial- scale sustainable farm, those new to permaculture can start applying the principles in their own backyard as simply as collecting rainwater for use on their gardens and composting to keep nutrients recycling in the system.

"The permaculture design course is for anyone who wants to make a positive change and learn how to observe and interact positively with the design patterns that exist in nature," Mr Cameron said.

Andrew Cameron caught the permaculture bug four years ago after a background in marketing and advertising and said undertaking a PDC changed the direction of his life.

"It was a lightbulb moment for me and I made a pact with myself that I would only do things that were good for people and for the planet,'' he said.

"The more I educated myself, the more I realised: Wow, we really need to make some changes. We're living against nature."

"We can't keep ignoring the signs nature is giving us: and the solutions are in nature."



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