Growing healthy food doesn’t need to be such hard work

Beneficial connections in an eco-orchard - energy and nutrients used efficiently
Extra layers of vegetation capture more solar energy and improve microclimate at Hill Top Farm
Saving human energy - chickens making compost right where we need it at Hill Top Farm
Grow 'Living Mulch' instead of mulching. It's less work and better for our soils

Using our toolkit of ecological practices you'll have an affordable, simple, and low-risk pathway to bring back Nature's FREE ecological services to your garden or farm.

Which of these options would you prefer?

Using ecological practices makes practical sense.

We use the expertise Nature has developed over 3 billion years to create ecosystems that are self-maintaining and highly productive - using the energy and resources they have available. Ecosystems that quickly bounce back from extreme weather events.

Everything we want for our farms and gardens.

Take a look at the native vegetation in your region. It doesn’t need anyone to spread mulch and fertilisers, control pests, weed or mow.

Using ecological practices makes economic sense.

There is enough data to demonstrate the financial benefits.

Input costs are reduced without sacrificing yields. In fact, often the reverse, as farmers and gardeners experience higher nutrient availability in their soils, and fewer impacts from pests, diseases and extreme weather events.

Makes sense for governments and communities.

Farmers provide the ecosystem services communities and governments want. Not because they are one of the few lucky enough to receive a grant or incentive payment (although these are always useful) - because it is in their financial best interest.

Improved water quality, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, drought-proofing, reduced flooding and fertiliser runoff are all by-products provided by farmers restoring the key ecological functions on their farms.

Productive

Easy to maintain

Resilient

Sustainable

How we help.

We’ve done the hard work. With our proven, and easy to use toolkit of ecological practices, you’ll apply new knowledge and the ecological principles - eco-logic - behind the practices to

- skillfully develop suitable ways to grow food  for your climate and growing conditions

- that have improved ecological functions –nutrient and water cycle, solar energy capture, and the beneficial connections to use these resources efficiently.

Your focus will be on the overall ecological design of your farm and garden. On growing more, reducing costs and risks by restoring ecological functions, rather than using organic farming and gardening tools which have ecological benefits.

Using this approach you’ll restore Nature’s FREE ecological services without getting worn out or going broke!

The ecological practices are easy to use, but don't be deceived by their simplicity. A lot of thought, shared knowledge from traditional farming systems and contemporary farmer-led innovation, science, and practical hands-on experience has gone into developing them.

Adopting these ecological practices you will take the food-growing potential of Permaculture design, a quantum leap towards Bill Mollison's original end goal of mimicking how Nature works, and help further develop the ‘production practice dimension’ of Agroecology.

> Are you ready to try this easier way to grow?

Get our list of ecological practices.

How gardeners and farmers benefit from using this ecological approach

Broadacre producers are farming in ‘nature’s image’

Gabe Brown and family found the answer to their degraded soil was “to imitate a healthy, native rangeland ecosystem“.

They changed from a production model of fixed grazing, tillage, monocultures, synthetic chemicals, to one of zero tillage, diversity of crops, soil-building ecological support plants and grazing animals to feed soil biology. “I needed to farm and ranch in nature’s image. To work with nature instead of against it. Then we can get regeneration, and get back to supplying healthy foods.” “We average approximately 30% higher production  than the conventional farmers do in the county. We have more lbs of saleable products. Our products are more nutrient dense. We have a higher quality of life…. and we are storing a lot more carbon. Our profits are higher and most importantly we are regenerating the resource for future generations.”

North Dakota, USA

Less mowing has benefits

Sometimes the solution can be very simple. For example, orchards infrequently mowed have more beneficial insects. Natural enemies of pest species. According to Dave Horton they are attracted to flowering plants in longer grass, and the abundant prey, such as aphids and thrips.

No more mulching …

The orchard is one area of Dr. Wendy Seabrook’s farm that has been dramatically transformed using Ecological Practices.

“After a few years of hot and dusty work mulching, and watching my trees fight a losing battle against grass, I replaced the competitive grasses with a living mulch species mix. I get root exudates as well as organic matter. By using ecological support plants providing useful ecological services I am also supporting the growth of my fruit trees."

Hill Top Farm, Cooktown, Australia

Reversing degraded land and incomes through “nature teaching us”

For the owners of Knepp Castle in England, conventional agriculture had rapidly become a liability.

Apart from its poor soil, the team at Knepp had to contend with a further disadvantage – the small field size. The owners hadn’t removed the hedges, ditches and copses as so many other farmers  had done.  While this was advantageous for wildlife, it meant that they were unable to take advantage of the economies of scale provided by giant fields and big machinery. Fourteen years ago they embarked on a ‘re-wilding’ project across the 3,500-acre estate, dramatically changing their land management.

“We took on board the theory that grazing animals are key drivers of habitat generation and biodiversity in this landscape, and introduced Red deer, Fallow deer, Longhorn cattle, Exmore ponies and Tamworth pigs. These animals are proxies of some of the fauna that would have been present in the landscape. Roaming freely with minimal interference they have brought back biodiversity and we are proud to have 2% of the UKs Nightingale population.”

Culling livestock provides a new income stream. The meat is organic and they sell the ‘wild meat’ for top dollars.  Safaris and Glamping (glamorous camping), provide further income. Isabell Tree, one of the managers says “The joy of a project like Knepp is that Nature is teaching us, rather than us imposing our will on Nature and then wondering why it isn’t working”.

Sussex, England

Growing healthy food is easier with functioning soil

Have you ever visited a garden where the vegetables look extraordinarily healthy? Carol Laing’s veggies are like that.

The wonderful thing is that her soil tests demonstrate why. On her 600m2 block in the suburbs, Carol has transformed sandy soil into dark, rich soil. She has done it by getting rid of her grass and growing layers of biomass accumulating food and ecological support plants. Composting all her household and garden waste and kick-starting her soil restoration process by adding rock minerals, blood and bone, and biochar. Carol’s recent soil test shows that her soil is now a loam soil with a pH 6.9, and organic matter 6.8%. By comparison most farmers aspire to have 4% organic matter!

Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Who said food forest don’t produce much food?

A forest garden on the cold edge of Europe produces over one tonne of food on one-fifth of an acre (0.08 ha), with less that two days work a week. Graham Bell and his family started the garden 25 years ago, adding layers of vegetation, and over 150 food and ecological support plants.

“We have one chest freezer full of soft fruit by July and in the freezer room we dry apple rings and store marrows and pumpkins, which keep until May,” Graham said. “Jams, jellies, chutneys, pickles and fruit cheeses go into jars. We feed visitors on open days and have provided for permaculture events feeding up to 100 people on a day, half a dozen times this year”. “We are reminded daily that it is not the number of species that make the garden as successful as it is, but the web of complex relationships between all the elements in the system”.

The Red Shed, Scotland