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Thursday, August 22, 2013

TWo workshops, a curry van, a speech and a market in one week....Whew!

An enthusiastic group of Southwest people participated in Bee Winfield's workshops last weekend at Nannup's Flower and Garden festival. The importance of growing our own fruit and veges organically was stressed, with slides of research showing the effects of pesticides on children's cognitive development & the links between commonly used organo-phosphates in agriculture to ADHD and learning difficulties. They learnt how Round Up was found in the urine of every subject tested ( 1000 + people in Germany)and saw how plantations of soy, palm oil and timber cutting are destroying the lungs of our Earth ( the rain forests ) at a rate of 6000 acres per hour. This loss of vegetation, and the burning of fossil fuel has resulted in serious climate change already. Facilitator Bee Winfield said " Conventional Agriculture is a major contributor to GHG , and a dying occupation, however organic growing can save the Earth. She stressed that through our buying habits "we create the world we want."
Bee said "Artificial fertiliser is not only contributing to climate change and air pollution by its manufacture, but when applied to soils,  kills off the soil food web. This is why foods are so low in minerals compared to 30 years ago. She said "The marketing to children of junk ( processed) foods is really killing our children and our planet. Obesity alone is bankrupting our health system."
A slide of an orang-outang clinging to a lone tree after bulldozers clear felled several square miles of his rainforest home for palm oil, prompted Yvonne to share how her partner & son were currently trekking in a Malaysian rainforest & had visited a tribe whose children are sick and dying from the poisoned creeks flowing from the palm plantations. The point was brought home by an array of left over snack chips, waves and rings from a function held in the same hall the night before.
After a lot of grim news, came the exciting news that our farms and gardens can become healthy eco systems which rely on a web of pest and predator. The group was encouraged to view a pest outbreak as a breeding ground for predators, and shown how to bring insect eating birds, reptiles and bats to their horticultures. The "soil food web" contains 1/3 of all living things on Earth. Tilling and use of fungicides annihilates important microscopic life formsBee claims that  3 years or less after conversion to organics a farmer will find no use for chemicals and use less fuel.
The school kindly lent Bee an older microscope for the workshop, to analyse soil from the community garden pathways and compare it to soil microbes in composted beds. Unfortunately we lacked magnification and couldn't see much, although a Manjimup boy managed to focus in on a leaf, to his joy. An aerobic compost heap teems with "good guy " microbes and we saw microscopic slides of a bad bug nematode being lassoed by a fungal hypha. We then saw a tomato root unprotected by mychorrizal fungi with a root eating nematode going right in to feed! There were also slides of predatory nematodes which consume root feeders types .
The workshop culminated in a compost tea brewing demonstration. After a few days aeration the tea is full of beneficial bugs which when sprayed out on the leaves and soil can "miraculously" improve soil structure and water logging, get rid of pesticide residues, prevent nutrient and lime applicatons leaching away, increase nutrients in plants (because the microbes dissolve minerals from our sand, silt and clay and hold them near the plant roots in plant available form), and reduce watering costs by up to 70%. A well fed plant does not send out stress signals which attract " Natures Garbage Collectors"…… the pests and diseases. The reasons why properly made compost gives plants resistance to pests and disease are only now coming to light with the advent of the electron microscope.
Two  brave little boys , one clearing the swale as the  big boar  they were feeding some oats rose to his feet!! 
On the Sunday ,16 participants coming from as far away as Perth, Collie, Donnybrook, Bridgetown, Northcliffe and Manjimup attended the Swale workshop. They were pleasantly surprised to learn about the myriad of benefits this cheap, easy & quick water harvesting installation can bring . After the workshop the group car pooled to Merri Bee Organic Farm to see the good growth of citrus and cattle fodder trees on 5 young swales. The sun shone for the first time all weekend on the sparkling water of the Blackwood river flowing by. The visitors were charmed by the sights, scents and sounds of spring on the farm, and were all very grateful to Bee and  Well Being Warren Blackwood who funded the workshops.
The secret Life of Soil " series , exploring how to make good compost and teas from it  will be an extraordinarily educational day at the farm commencing on   November 2nd. Home gardeners and farmers will learn  more profitable ways to grow healthy productive plants. This will cost $60.00 with optional lunch from the farm of $15.00, all organic of course. Please book early as places are limited . Email Bee :

On November 3rd Nannup Shire presents David Piggott Ba Sc who will present “Argentine Ant control the Natural way “ Community action is fun , easy , low toxic and WORKS!

Details as they emerge.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Time to Spring into action as Flowers and Gardens bloom !

We looked around yesterday and realized the weeds are on the move, the almond trees are blossoming , the banjo frogs are jamming down in the swamp and spring is springing. From now till Christmas we will be flat out in the vege garden seeding, weeding, mowing,  transplanting and mulching. I got my chilie , capsis tomatoes and eggplant planted in seed trays in the plastic house yesterday. Its a great time to put in peas and  potatoes direct in the garden. A month form now sunflowers, corn  and pumpkins can go in.  I will  admit to you we are just getting to transplanting the onions and haven't pruned the grapes yet. I did achieve bamboo cuttings recently.
We've been happy to host a young lady from Japan this week. Yuka is learning English and helping us out with a bit of weeding, tree planting and sales at markets.
Weeding the garlic and onions that did get planted on time.

 So wet at Karridale, the swales are more like dams, the paddocks are saturated and the swale mounds maybe the best place to plant tagasaste. Plenty of willows and poplars have been planted out  to bind the soil and feed the cattle and earthworms.
Bee and Yuka staying at the weeding task.

At Nannup Flower and Garden Festival this weekend, we will be cooking an all organic curry or two for the event, to be served with organic rice. Also from the Organic Food Van our roasted macadamia and pecan nuts with banana ice cream should not be missed, plus I will be  presenting a workshop in Nannup at 11.30am at the shire on both Saturday and Sunday. Our farm tour to show swales in action will be 4 pm Sunday at the farm ($20 a head, free tastings of produce ) Come and get an earful of great  growing advice this weekend!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Don't want to blow my own bugle but......

Sometimes when my stars for the week mean I will need to deal with criticism from many quarters and Im feeling like a failure, I turn to my testimonial page and just read....
Thank you so much Bee and Stewart for an amazing day, extremely educational and extremely delicious!! Please also add my new email address to your making list. 

This was one of the best workshops I've ever done, the learning was immense.  I was so excited I went foraging yesterday on Dad's property, looking for fungi, which I'm pretty sure I found in the composting layer on the forest floors.  I collected lots of samples from a variety of high biomass areas and I'm going to have a bash at using the samples to inoculate compost and soil at home....see if I can boost up the fungi levels!

 Just wanted to let you know, we had the rump roast rubbed with fennel seeds last night and tonight, and it was some of the most delicious meat we have ever had. So moist with the fat, and so tasty. So nice to eat meat that I didn't have to worry about - because I knew it had had the most perfect, happy life right till the end. Could just enjoy it for two reasons - firstly, it was perfect, so I didn't feel bad that some animal died for an average tasting bit of food, secondly, because I knew she had a good life. Plus, lots of lard saved for future roast potatoes. Food of the gods (apart from mash of course). The main difference I noticed with your pork compared to ordinary pork, is that the fatty bits are nice to eat, not a flubbery, grainy, nasty jelly mess like from other producers. Loved it, let me know when you are raising more meat of any kind, and we will have some. S J
I come in a few times to the organic markets when i lived in Belmont for your lovely roast beef, best I've tasted. J.M.

The lamb chops were amazing. The fat on your animals tastes completely different than other meats, it is crispier if that makes sense (even better than other organic grass fed meats). I wonder what it is that does that? The raspberries were the best I ever had, so firm and tasted just like raspberries if you know what I mean? I loved the yoghurt, it tastes more sour but I like that (and so does James). The more sour/fermented it is the more lactobacilli and other bacteria there is. Also it has less lactose, which is better. You can really taste the difference between yours and other organic yoghurts (which are only done for 6-12 hours). The bread is really delicious too.  RT
Hi Bee,

Thankyou so much to you and Stew for a fun, entertaining, informative and simply wonderful day. I learned so much and can't wait to get started with putting into practice some of the things I learnt today. It sure is daunting suddenly having 10 acres to manage with no farming experience let alone permaculture or biodynamics! but i am very willing to learn and have a go to help give the best nutrition to my family and do the right thing by the environment. Thankyou so much for opening your lovely home to us and being so generous with your time and knowledge. I feel very lucky to have been able to come along and am so glad I met you guys before listening to everyone else telling me that I must "make roundup my friend"!  

Hi Bee

I had a great time on the weekend, i was amazed at how quick you could feel at home in your home. For me it was great to meet you three in away that i felt you can live ge free and organicly and still fit in with society. Already have started my worm farm. Also has changed what i buy from the shops and working on the bigger plan. I even found myself looking up land in Nannup on sunday night.

I dont realy have much constructive critism, as it was great. I felt i learned a lot more once it was the three of us rather than saturday morning when we were with others that already knew a lot more, it got a bit complicated for me. So i think it would good if possible for people at similar stages to spend the weekend together as we had.  Also i think the more hands on stuff on the farm it what i remenber the most and would encourage that side the most.

I enjoyed it a lot  and would love to come again in the future.

In regards to the market, do you need to pre - order. What time does it start. Is there any chance you will have anymore of that berry compot, already finished it, yum. Were after yogurt, ice cream, bacon, avo and what size do the hams come in (i realy like the ham we had at lunch)

Regards b
thankyou so much for a truly wonderful stay.
i felt so nourished on every level.
it was a perfect mix….
just had your milk- best milk I have ever tasted in my life
Just did the course last weekend, it was absolutely brilliant! Such a beautiful farm with many happy animals.Organic farming has been a viable way of farming for thousands of years, things went wrong when scientists brainwash you into believing that food should come from a laboratory or a factory. Do the course and you'll learn how to grow your own in a natural sustainable way! Michele
Thank you so much for a fabulous weekend – Gres and I both thoroughly enjoyed being part of your organic farm and family and taking away so much information with us. We are very keen to start with small projects; baking our own sour dough bread, starting a worm farm, investigating a water tank, being aware of GM foods and buying the non-GM alternative and only feeding the kids organic meats, fruits and vegies. 
Dear Bee, a big thank you to you for having me in your very interesting Gourmet gardening weekend permaculture course. It's such a prestigious experience to see how permaculture works on your farm..and all these wonderful films we got to see and amazing food we got to taste. I am so glad I came. I will try and source some ingredients to make my first sourdough. I look forward to receiving the recipe. Also could you tell me the name again of that herb growing in the patch upslope from your compost? Epi...ti.
Hi Bee and Stew .Thank you so much for such a great weekend! It was so informative and we look forward to implementing things in our garden! Will be in touch soon
Again thank you for a great weekend. Emmy

And from a couple of youths who want to go all organic but are struggling to afford it:
Its just that we know that your produce is the best in Australia, and at the most outrageously good value prices, and we not only want to eat your stuff but also support you in what you do as much as we can. We have been thinking of a trip down south soon, and we will definitely come say hi and help out when we do!
 These emails were unsolicited and mean a lot to us .  Honestly, if I had a dime for very time we've heard people say or  email "  Your eggs ( or meat) is the best I have ever tasted by far" I would be a rich Merri Bee
 This letter today I am very proud of. (Remember if you want a good speaker on GM I 'll be there in a flash): 
Club B,
Silver Chain,
Peninsula Road,
Bridgetown 6255
Bee Winfield,
3 Thomas road,

Dear Bee,
Thank-you for giving your talk “Healthy Soil - Healthy Food -
Healthy people - Healthy Planet” to the members of Club B on Friday 26th July 2013.
What a wealth of information you gave us. It really was a fascinating
presentation and stimulated a lot of interest in the members. Some of the information you gave was totally new to many of us. It was obvious that you had done a great deal of research and we were grateful that you made the information available to us.
Thank-you for giving us the little 'GE' pamphlets on the foods so we will be able to do more careful food shopping from now on.
Thank-you for taking the time to come to Silver Chain to give this
excellent presentation to our members. It was very much appreciated.
Kind Regards,

E. W
On behalf of Silver Chain
and Club B Organising Committee.

On behalf of the Balingup Small Farm Field Day Committee, thank you for your time and contribution to the field day with your composting demonstration.  

It is wonderful to have an experienced practitioner working with the stuff day in, day out, as you are on your Nannup farm.   

You made it accessible and interesting to people, and your detailed knowledge on the topic was appreciated. 

Thank you again for making the 2016 Field Day a memorable and successful event.

Kind regards,

Janine Milton

Coordinator BSFFD Committee