Philosophy 2 – Understand and accept climate change.
Climate change guides our decisions on energy consumption. We identify three categories of energy: from industrial energy (consumption of fossil fuels e.g. controlling weeds by cultivation), through cultural energy (adopting cultural practices e.g. hand hoe for weeds), to biological energy (designing a system that self-maintains e.g. biological agents for weed management).
As such where possible we aim and practice:
- Leave the tractor in the shed, and, when purchasing equipment, select equipment appropriate to perform its function. No 150HP tractor to rake hay
- Muster animals on foot, also benefits the stress and quality of the livestock
- Recognise and move away from fossil fuel derived products
- Use and not consume
- Find multiple uses for products
- Select renewable farm inputs
- Utilising renewable energy when using industrial energy
- Selecting ethical energy such as, making purchases from fair trade suppliers
- Selecting appropriate enterprises for sustainable farm production.
- Increase soil organic matter and thus soil biology, to increase resilience to reduced rainfall and increased frost occurrence
There is much discussion in many circles of creating food forests. It is a great permaculture concept that has been widely accepted by many mainstream, small-scale food producers. The ecological climax community at our farm is a grassy woodland, not a forest. In accordance with this, at Eaglerise Farm we are producing a food grassy woodland. A forest community, generally, has a closed canopy and multi-levels of production. A grassy woodland has the trees too far apart to form a closed canopy. This allows energy from the sun to penetrate to the ground plants. It also shares the reduced rainfall and soil nutrients amongst fewer plants.
To design and force a climax community outside the natural system can only be achieved and maintained by the addition of external energy. For us, a food grassy woodland is far more attainable, require less energy, and will persist far longer within a changing climate than a food forest. With current forecasts of climate change, our system will morph towards a grassland rather than towards a forest.
These two photos show our reaction to climate change. Here we have the paddock just south of the Eaglerise Farm farmhouse.
The design here incorporates small swales about 10 metres apart. Fruit trees have been planted on the lower edge of the swale. These trees are a mixture of pomme, stone fruit and prunus. The fruit trees have been planted every 5 metres along the swale. The planting order prohibits the same type of tree being planted side-by-side i.e. peach, Japanese plum, apple, nectarine, Blood plum, pear, peach, green plum, nashi, etc. This increases the overall diversity of plantings. This will develop a more robust system and encourage pest and pathogen resistance.
Along the swales, between the trees will be planted s diverse variety of perennial fruit, herbs and vegetables, such as, Blueberries, artichokes, rhubarb, rosemary etc. Between the swales will be grown more annual vegetables and herbs.
In designing for an acceptance of climate change, we need to design a diverse, food grassy woodland that will reduce our requirement for additional irrigation and will also maximise the effectiveness of any irrigation we do.
A view from Eaglerise Farm, overlooking the Murray River valley. Hume and Hovell, the European explorers described this view as “an English parkland”. For millennia, the plant communities here have been managed by the Wiradjuri people to develop a grassy woodland.