Photos and Interview by Michelle Troop.
The Margaret River region is well renowned for it’s spectacular coastline and stunning forests, as well as it’s superb wineries. It’s country living at it’s best. Production of locally grown fruits and vegetables is increasing, with the busy local farmers market steadily growing in size. There’s a number of local, dedicated people who have sustainability, community and the future of not only our region, but the future of the planet in mind and at heart. Two of these people are Jodie Lane and Do Perez, the founders of Fair Harvest Permaculture in Margaret River. The two of them, as well as several other local knowledgeable people are putting Margaret River on the map with their passion for permaculture and sustainability. I spoke with Jodie and Do recently to find out more about what Fair Harvest is.
How did Fair Harvest Permaculture come to be?
I always had the dream of growing healthy food. In 1995 a small group of friends and I moved to the corner of the family farm and began planting it out according to permaculture principles. Permaculture is based on close observation of nature and the interrelationships between the plants, animals and other elements in the system. It aims to respect and mimic nature while providing for our needs.
We also embraced the permaculture ethics of “care for the land,” “care for the people” and “fair share.” During this time I ran a number of short permaculture courses as well as teaching at the local TAFE and being involved in some inspiring community projects.
I met my partner Do in 2009 and together we decided to create Fair Harvest Permaculture, a place where permaculture could be available to all. We have developed a full selection of mature permaculture systems including: productive veggie gardens, deciduous fruit tree orchard, citrus orchard, windbreaks, composts, compost heated water, worm farms, poultry systems, dairy and beef cattle, bee hives, plantation timber, aquaponics and more.
Why have you built the new venue?
There is a growing global movement towards sustainability, organic foods, local produce and backyard growing. Margaret River is a part of this, with numerous projects staring to appear all over the shire. We felt that the time was ripe for a venue focused on this aspect of our community.
Our venue has been purpose built to hold workshops and events about sustainability. It also has a top class commercial kitchen because growing food is only the first step. Once we have grown the food we want to know how to prepare, cook, preserve and store it in the healthiest way possible… we also know the importance of a shared meal and we make sure that there are plenty of opportunities to share good food with good friends.
I see Margaret River as becoming a hub for healthy, local produce. We want to provide a place where people can get involved with food from the farm or the backyard to the plate.
You?ve run some amazing events in your first year of operation, can you tell us a little about them?
Our first important event was a full two week live-in Permaculture Design Certificate. The South West has some of the best teachers and practitioners of Permaculture and our aim was to bring them together to deliver a world class course. We have just published the dates for our 3rd PDC and it is becoming known as one of the best courses in local, sustainable growing on offer.
We have run numerous short courses ranging from cheese making to aquaponics, using local knowledge and talent wherever possible. We try to make all of our courses informative, hands on, experiential and fun. We are developing short courses that involve all the family.
One of our favorite events of the year was the Festival of Forgotten Skills, an amazing family day for people to learn about and participate in skills that have been passed on for generations. We recognize that sharing skills is as important as growing good food and we had everything on offer from candle making to rope making.
You also run Swap Shuffle Share, tell us about that.
Swap Shuffle Share started as a local seed savers group meeting once a month. Now locals meet to swap seeds, plants, produce and stories about the garden. Our swap morning is every 3rd Saturday of the month from 10 till 12 and everyone is welcome. It?s a super casual morning where everyone puts their produce on the table, has a cuppa or a wander in the gardens, before filling up their basket with goodies and going home.
Is Fair Harvest Open to visitors?
We are developing more ways for visitors to come to Fair Harvest from tours to immersion weekends. We love creating custom made days that can include harvest tours, short workshops and shared meals. All visits are by appointment only as we are usually busy somewhere on the farm and do not have public opening hours.
Can people hire the venue?
The venue is open for hire to anyone who is interested in local food and sustainability. Our venue also includes an historical old barn and we are getting a number of inquiries from couples as a wedding venue. The main venue can hold around 80 people, there?s space for a marquee and we also have facilities for films and music. The kitchen is available for hire to small businesses that need a commercial kitchen and is a great space to run cooking classes.
What is your vision for the future of Fair Harvest?
We live in a period of global change. Some of these changes are for the better as we have greater access to more knowledge and experience from around the world. Some of the changes are going to be hard though, as we face living in a drying climate with a growing population. We hope to become one of many centres around the world that helps individuals and communities make the most of their natural environment and adjust to change by teaching the skills needed and by providing a venue where people can meet to share ideas, seeds, skills and good food.
What’s coming up in the next 6 months?
Have a look at our website www.fairharvest.com.au to see the full program, which includes a two day Introduction to Permaculture course, the 2013 Festival of Forgotten Skills, and a January two week Permaculture Design Certificate.
Jodie Lane – Fair Harvest Permaculture, Margaret River 08 9758 8319
Watch a video on the Fair Harvest Permaculture Design Certificate below. Produced by Blair Trotman.