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Thursday, February 4, 2016

 I  was kicked out of home at 16 for building compost heaps in our backyard in the Melbourne suburb of Mt Waverley. Earlier, Dad had taken me to a psychiatrist in an attempt to rid me of what he thought was a rare personality disorder, but the composting obsession proved incurable. Now I’m 57,  and a steaming hot compost heap still enthralls me: the way it takes stinky waste products and turns them into black gold ( humus).  I love that  a mass of red wriggler worms can demolish a cow pat in half a day and that a throng of soldier fly larvae can devour a sheep’s  hide and guts just 48 hours, and be themselves returned to the soil (via some chooks  )soon after.  And that out of all this decay comes another generation of healthy plants, and another joy of my  life, food!   I wanted to be an organic farmer from the age of 10.
I arrived in Nannup  as a very young,  mung bean- eating hippie in the early 80’s and after a foray in a commune  which promised cheap land upon which  to follow my dream ( but delivered lots of hassles) ,  me and my first husband  moved on to  27 acres in Nannup, inspired by  Bill Mollison to start a Permaculture.  I am still here, having raised a family of 5 children. That, and  working for a living , meant Permaculture was on the back burner for many years. Near the end of that  17 year marriage I constructed   a passive solar mudbrick house out of recycled materials. The house is still standing and the  permaculture surrounding it  has grown upwards and outwards: magnificent now with towering bamboos and pine nut trees, spreading oaks, chestnuts and hundreds of other species of fruit, nut , timber and native  plant.  I met  my darling Stewart 12 years ago and  we suddenly became  full time organic farmers, ditching our outside jobs pronto,  thanks to   the rise and rise  of farmers markets.   Our Permaculture yields  building materials , all our food and an income year ‘round.
We would be living the dream by now, but no man is an island and   climate change hit us in about 2007. Terrible climate change.  Our usual winter efforts to extend the  food forest were now beset by failure due to drought and heat . Things just died even though we spent 8 hours a day hand watering over prolonged summers. It is so hard to watch this formerly lush district turning to desert.
It became clear we needed to work on our soil.  In 2013 we  invested heavily in learning the latest in soil science from  Dr Elaine Ingham ( eminent soil microbiologist) In 2014 we re-named the farm “Merri Bee Organic Farmacy” because whole food grown biologically is the best  preventative medicine. Like canaries in the coal mine our children are reflecting our impoverished  and  toxic environment  and have a lower life expectancy than ours.  This is obviously unprecedented and tragic and the  cause is  diet .  Teaming with local Naturopaths we’ve been joyed to supply parents with good food to help their ailing children, but really we want to feed people organic food exclusively 2 years before conception to prevent problems.
With a degree of compost tea success so far,  we now run courses in  Permaculture , water harvesting , and soil creation , and our  focus is farmers.  In the South West of WA, just a few thousand farmers control 55% of the land area, and thus our local climate! Green plants are the original and still the  best carbon capture and storage mechanism on Earth. They  pump carbon underground whenever the sun is shining, but surprisingly, this only happens in natural systems where the soil microbes are intact. But 99% of farmers clear most of these carbon -sequestering microbes  from their land with chemicals . Peer reviewed and published science shows GM crops use 15 times more chemical than usual!
Dr Christine Jones makes a staggering claim that  if all farmers in Australia raised their soil carbon by just 1 per cent, the entire globe’s legacy load of carbon in the air would cleared away into the soil, and a safe climate would return. 
So good soil is powerful. It is key to our health, wealth, happiness, energy and intelligence for generations of our family to come, it  can uniquely  solve not only the environmental emergency but the health crisis (which is really an agricultural crisis) .Only good living soil can stem  the pandemic of mental and physical disorders which threatens to bankrupt the richest nations .
Bill Mollison said it beautifully : “All our problems can be solved in a garden”.
Permaculture people know trees make rain and know how to repair ecosystems, we know that you don’t need fertilizer and pesticides to grow food, (forests show us that)…. but our voices are not heard above the din of chemical company myths. Farmers have been subjected to the lies of the 5 companies controlling food and health since the Green Revolution.  Monsanto (‘feeding the world, one lie at a time”) has been in control of the media, regulators and  governments for 6 decades now.  We are proud to follow Dr Elaine Ingham who courageously  “de- programmes”  brainwashed farmers the world over.
We are in the middle of “6 X” (the sixth mass extinction event on Earth) with species from beneficial soil microbes to the large animals becoming extinct, many we suspect  even before discovery . Cloistered in the city or even on the coast, most people have no idea of how close to extinction WE are.   The cause is toxics, and GM crops use even more chemicals than conventional.

Perhaps  you are  one  of the people who already sees the need to cook organic, not the planet? If not, I hope my story will be food for thought for you and yours.


  1. After reading all this; No wonder you seemed to be so strong in 2009 when I visited your farm while backpacking in WA. Congrats on acquiring an additional 50 acres of land. How is Lee doing ?(if I am remember his name right). I often keep telling people that he is one of the best 9 year olds I have ever met. How are all your animals; chickens, pigs and cows ? You sure were craving for Organic Farming from back then. Good to see your accomplishments in the same after 7 years. Best wishes.

  2. Hi Prab KT, thanks so much for your comment. Hope you have enjoyed many travels since 2009. Lee is 16 now, quite a man about town. He is about to move in with his brother in Margaret River where he is bound to pick up a heap of skills. We still have all the animals doing well, the permaculture is sheltering them and feeding them, in spite of the way the district has dried out. We are running composting workshops free for our neighbouring farmers hoping to transform farming . Hee Hee , grand plan isnt it? Best wishes , Bee

  3. I just read this after an year; Apparently google didnt send me a mail when you replied. Glad to hear from you. I am in Roseville CA, US. you are welcome to visit us anytime on a vacation or something. 16 teenager Lee might have learnt a lot past one year. lol.