Thursday, 19 April 2012

Urban Farming Presentation - Michael Ableman

Do you know only 1% of the population grow the food for the other 99% of us. What a huge responsibility!

Tuesday night I watched the film "Beyond Organic", which is where Michael Ableman started in growing organic vegetables for sale, before the fim he gave a presentation on his thoughts about growing vegetables, the state of the system around the world, it was very interesting and I liked a lot of his ideas.

Wednesday he gave a powerpoint presentation on high density vegetables farms he has setup in America and Canada in city environments. A few of the market gardens are completely grown in containers on asphalt and one of the markets in it's first year made $70,000 US. It really was very impressive and the gardens are giving people meaningful work and an income.

He now farms in Canada and gave us tips and hints on what is working for him. A few things that stood out from the presentation are:

-It's 40% farming, 60% marketing
-Time and space! You have to be smart with the crops you are growing, having seedlings ready to plant as soon as the crop has been harvested. Growing a fast crop with a slow crop. You also need to use everybit of space smartly.
-Michael said a market garden is possible in 1/8 - 1/4 of an acre.
-The farms that succeed are the ones where the farmer is present, observing taking notice of everything that is happening on the farm.

He is a really interesting guy with great ideas, his website is here if you would like to find out more about him -

He is hoping to come back in our Summer to present a 3 day workshop on starting, setting up and running a productive and finacially viable market garden. Although it would be an overload of information I am quite interested.

It was a really great day and a chance to catch up with a few people I ran into that I hadn't seen for a while.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

I am off to see this film tonight and participate in the workshop tomorrow, it looks interesting and I hope to provide feedback later in the week here.



The award-winning ‘Beyond Organic: The Vision of Fairview Gardens’ tells the story of an urban farm in the middle of some of the most expensive real estate in the US. Managed by Michael Ableman for 20 years, this 12-acre organic farm has become a model of sustainable food production and community involvement. Free entry.


Drawing on his experiences as both a rural and urban farmer, Michael Ableman will lead a free, full-day workshop and discussion on the challenges, myths, strategies, structures, and methods for creating vibrant food production enterprises in and around our cities.

MICHAEL ABLEMAN is a farmer, author, and photographer. He is the founder and executive director emeritus of The Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens, one of the oldest and most diverse organic farms in southern California. Ableman is currently directing SOLEfood, an urban agriculture enterprise established in Vancouver, British Columbia, to provide employment to individuals experiencing poverty and addiction. He is the author and photographer of numerous books. He lives and farms at the historic 120 acre Foxglove Farm, where he also directs the Center For Arts, Ecology, and Agriculture.

Presented by Friends of the Earth Adelaide, the City of Charles Sturt, Slow Food Adelaide & Barossa, the Permaculture Association of SA, Grange Organic & Sustainable Market and Transition Adelaide West

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Hen and Rooster Update

Roosters are all grown up and now crowing, hens aren't laying yet, but shouldn't be too far away, here is a few recent photos, taken yesterday.
 Rooster in charge
 Second rooster, bottom of the pecking order
 Two little girls, the mostly brown hen is also at the bottom of the pecking order.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Rocket Stove Workshop

Sunday 18th March I attended my first Adelaide Hills Permaculture workshop to build a Rocket Stove.
What is a rocket stove?

Wikipedia provides the following explanation:
A rocket stove is an innovative clean and efficient cooking stove using small diameter wood fuel which is burned in simple high-temperature combustion chamber containing an insulated vertical chimney which ensures complete combustion prior to the flames reaching the cooking surface. The principles were described by Dr. Larry Winiarski from Aprovecho in 1982 and stoves based on this design won Ashden Awards in both 2005 and 2006. Interest in rocket stoves has led to the development of rocket mass heaters and other innovations.

I had heard about rocket stoves previously and I was quite excited to make my own. It was great to meet so many new people, with everyone pulling together to make the rocket stoves, from a wide range of materials. I made a larger rocket stove, as you can see modelled by myself below. This was technically harder, with a lot of assistance from the men to angle grind and weld the steel, but you can also make a smaller one from regular cans and a pair of tin snips, quite easily, which I would like to try at a later stage.

We used large 20L vegetable oil cans, with an additional half of a can put on top, for extra height. It's then basically a L shape inside, and insulated with Vermiculite, but you can also use sand or clay.

Milkwood Permaculture have a great page here on how to build a rocket stove and all sorts of ideas, if you are interested in building your own. They have explained it so much better than I could.

Of course that night I had to test it out, and I managed to boil a full kettle of water in 13 mins, using just a few twigs, which is impressive. I would like to experiment and see if I can get the time down, but have been waiting for the Fire Ban season to finish.

I'm really looking forward to the next workshop, which will be sour dough, harvesting materials for making rope and nets, catching yabbies, silver perch and cheese making.