Farming for life with permaculture

CULTURE: Limestone Farm aims to show people how to connect to their food source.
CULTURE: Limestone Farm aims to show people how to connect to their food source.

It’s said that food grown and cooked with love not only tastes better, but is better for you. If this was to be scientifically studied, I might direct the researcher to Limestone Permaculture farm in Stroud. From my chat to farmer Brett Cooper, it is clear that turning the ‘blank canvas’ of a traditional farm into a thriving food bowl based on permaculture principles is a true labour of love. It’s been a shared project with wife Nici and daughter Bronte since the family moved from a tiny block in Newcastle that was bursting at the seams with green.

“There were pumpkins growing on the roof – we were managing to feed three families in a tiny space,” said Brett.

The frustrated gardeners finally expanded to an acreage, where their green thumbs could have full reign. Six years later, and Limestone Permaculture Farm is a highly productive property, with an education centre that runs permaculture courses and workshops, a market garden, farmgate produce sales, poultry breeding and sales, passive building systems, as well as loads of “health and happiness” laughs Brett.

The Coopers are currently preparing for their farm to be opened to the public on May 1 as part of International Permaculture Day where they will be hosting tours and tastings. Now in its 7th year, International Permaculture Day has grown rapidly from its roots as a local Australian initiative to a global day of permaculture celebrated in over 35 countries.

Discovering permaculture 12 years ago was an event that changed Brett’s life.

“I was a builder and had done architectural drafting. When I found permaculture, it was less about one form and more about following nature’s design. It blew my mind.”

After that Brett “went ballistic” turning his inner city block into an urban food bowl.

Developed in Australia by Bill Mollinson and David Holmgren back in 1978, at its simplest, said Brett, permaculture is “a design system for ecological and sustainable living integrating plants, animals, buildings, people and community.”

Living the ethic, Brett said the the farm was always about connecting people to their food source, and encouraging organic permaculture farming. 

“As permie/homesteaders we are striving towards self-reliance and self-sufficiency with our food, water, shelter, energy resources, soil and animals, though like others we are still chipping away at our mortgage and juggling full-time jobs. The good news is – the lifestyle is possible!”

“It's all in the planning and with each passing day we are transitioning to a more wholesome life, creating a more fulfilling and positive future, not just for ourselves but also for our family, friends and community.”

Limestone Permaculture Farm will run tours at 10.30am and 2.30pm Sunday, May 1 as will Garden to Table Permaculture farm at Pacific Palms. Meet the Purple Pear permaculture farmers from Rutherford at The Tocal Field days on this weekend. For a full list of events go to permacultureday.org/

Claire is the author of My Year Without Matches. Contact her at claire@naturesapprentice.com.au