The lure of moving onto acreage gets to many people, I am one of them and have lived on 5 acres of rural residential land now for about 20 years. The acreage attraction includes: privacy, fresh air, connection to nature, having animals and for some people, growing their own food.
From my observation, the most common task of people who have moved from the city to acreage is mowing and care of non-edible gardens. And yet, with so much space to use on acreage, food growing seems very logical.
A decision point looms very quickly of juggling between your day job, necessary garden maintenance and starting or running a food garden. Could it be a very large food garden or a tiny one that does not take much time? This is a very personal decision as it depends on your priorities. Since you have the land to grow more than you need, how far do you go?
I have been helping people on rural residential for many years now with planning their food growing spaces. As I hear about their backgrounds, the common challenges of their past food growing experiences are:
- Only have experienced food growing on small spaces and do not know where to start.
- Taken on too much to begin with and burnt out
- Started their food gardens with limited knowledge and in particular no knowledge of how to progressively improve soil and grow food in their local climate. The result in most cases has been very limited success,
- Provided more food to local native animals than to themselves and lost enthusiasm for food growing because of this.
- Developed their food gardens to limited potential, because they were still working in a mind set of their past food growing in small spaces
The consistent tips I work with are:
- Creating a big picture of their goals,
- Breaking down the goals in small stages,
- Incorporating consistent organic soil improvement practices into their food garden rhythm and for some, moving these practices towards biodynamic methods,
- Choosing the right crops (vegetables, herbs, fruit and bush foods) for their climate and the timing of when to work with them,
- Designing their food growing spaces in the most ideal locations and to make the most efficient use of space,
- Creating a consistent pattern of work in their garden that to begin with fits their skill level and time commitment. Then over time, as their skill improves and they get more results from their efforts, begin to increase their growing areas.
- Ensuring all food garden spaces and their improvements are functional, beautiful, easy to understand and cost effective to implement
The success of the people I have seen over the years at growing their own food is fundamentally in their hands and hearts (their passion for the work of the food garden). However it always helps to have more guidance along the way and this can be found in:
- Self-education via books, magazines and the web. Our Blog is great resource, register at the bottom of the blog o receive blog announcements and comment on the blog
- Educational workshops and courses are also very helpful. Our regular organic food growing with biodynamic methods workshops in Brisbane give a very personalised and comprehensive introduction.
- Finding a mentor who has wisdom from experience – Our organic garden mentoring service will establish an achievable plan, keep you on track and provide you with timely knowledge when you need it, all personalised to your space.
Authored by Peter Kearney – www.myfoodgarden.com.au