BACK TO THE BASICS
We’ve enjoyed the continual learning about plants and have been on a steep learning curve about soil and farming practices.
Landcare has been a valuable resource. It’s been great to partake in work-shops, connect with like-minded people and share ideas.
Our land offered clay soil which baked solid in the sun and saw us through many vehicle boggings! Many moons and soil biology workshops later, we’re pleased to say there’s been soil improvements to be proud of. Blood sweat and tears, the brute force of the tractor, help from friends and some important child labour, were utilised to create something which resembled soil. It is satisfying to see cattle munching happily on fresh grass.
The Aloe was always to be a part of our farm. However, with diversity in mind, we circled many ideas including: herbs, lavender, bamboo, fruit, soy beans, cinnamon, goats, alpacas, quails… We envisaged a paddock full of rows of beautiful lavender or olive trees…
Realising that soil improvement would take huge energy and cost, I was inspired to use an area inside the house paddock, which I could manage with access to water etc. Also, the fruits of our labour would be two fold; plants which give back, as well as growing a garden. The areas of responsibility became defined: my husband, with the cattle & his tractor looked after the 99 acres outside the house paddock, and the 1 acre house paddock became my domain – with the chooks, Aloe & veggies.
Three hot dry spring seasons in a row, were a great opportunity to see what could survive! Growing robust plants became a necessity! I’ve always loved Aloe Vera, with its many health benefits. An elderly neighbour from Eastern Europe inspired my interest in Aloe Vera. Any ailment someone experienced - her answer was Aloe juice or gel.
Hence, growing the Aloe ticked several boxes.
Uses today: There have been anecdotes and stories from around the globe from people who have benefitted from the medicinal properties of this amazing plant.
Aloe demands few nutrients, however, in order to farm the soil and grow healthy plants, improvements were key. Many trailer loads of manure were collected from the paddocks (although my husband said I was stealing it from the pastures! The children saw first-hand that poo was a precious commodity!
We experimented with rotting leaves, growing potatoes and legumes and using chickens, in order to improve soil. The Aloe Vera aligned closely with core values I had about health.
Creating my own employment, here on the farm, means that I’ve been able to reinvest energy back into our main investment. It’s provided the chance to help develop the farm, explore business ideas and grow our own food. It’s been a great opportunity to involve our children.
We share our journey and love being a part of a growing resurgence in grass-roots basics when it comes to food and the environment.
Last year I completed a course on Holistic Farm Management, which has paved the way for trying new methods. It also provides a framework for decision making.
Our Farm has been included in a trial by the Department of Primary Industries called “Visit My Farm”, designed to connect people with farms. So we’re excited to see how that will go and the people we’ll get to meet.
Encouraged by friends and family we keep moving forward. We’ve made many mistakes and hopefully have learned through these experiences.