Introducing our next CommuniFoodie. The talented duo, Kate and Mark from Purple Pear Farm at Anambah NSW. Using their expansive knowledge of permaculture and educational background, the ‘pear’ own and nurture an established growing haven that welcomes students of all ages to engage in food growing and land service practices…
Spread over 14 acres the farm is categorised as peri urban. This gives them the advantages of rural living blended with access to facilities and the community near by, though 20 years ago when Kate first arrived it was nothing but empty space…
“I knew I had to do something with the land, it was so sad looking and it brought tears to my eyes. When I first started, I had no idea how to grow anything”
Joining as many communities as they could, the pair gained knowledge and information they felt was required in order to do what was best for the land.
“I became so overwhelmed with what was expected of me, but one of the things that was always said was ‘plants lots of trees’ so that’s what I did, thousands of them. It was a lot of work to get this land going and sometimes we thought we should move somewhere where it’s easier but because what we do is educational, we knew we had to learn how to work with the land so we could teach others”. - Kate
Everything has a purpose and a part to play in the farms eco-system. We met the beautiful Snow and her happy kid, prancing around and playing with the farm dogs. Kate uses the milk she receives from Snow for food purposes, soaps and other various products. The pigs, the cows and other animals are also farm family, as they teach the proper interaction and engagement with visitors and students.
Purple Pear Farm has a progressive feel to it, it is all about the beginning to the end cycle. Seeds are planted and nurtured in the ‘nursery’, using the tube casing the Kate used for the tree’s when she first arrived.
“By growing the seedlings in a bottomless tube it allows the roots to hang instead of being tangled and stressed.”
These are then planted into the beautiful mandala market garden and nurtured until harvest. Everything from beetroot, zucchini, lettuce, chives, garlic, herbs, carrots, cucumber, beans, corn and so much more is in a cycle of growth at Purple Pear Farm.
Entering into a garden full of permaculture guidelines and design, they pair have truly showcased their knowledge with a successful representation of a fully functional permaculture designed garden. The garden is made in Mandala form consisting of 7 Mandalas each with 7 circles. It works in synchronicity as its own system, with bed consisting of vegetables that were complimentary of one another.
“You grow some fast growing plants with some slow growing plants so that when the faster vegetables are ready for harvest, you then allow enough room for the slower vegetables to complete their growth. It makes use of the space”
Within this mandala vegetable filled space are also mandala bio-diversity spaces found in the centres. These areas are developed to attract beneficials to the area which perform as the eco-systems pest control. A diverse group of pond frogs, lizards, prickly trees for small birds and rocks and hollows for lizards to hide in. All of this adding to the beautiful eco-system that compliments itself.
A chook dome is placed on the bed for 2 weeks which rotates around to the other mandalas within time. For the first week the chickens scratch and eat either the grass or remnant crop. The bed is then covered with mulch which the chickens scratch through for weeds and insects and their scratching action cultivates and turn over the ground below them. The chickens prepare the beds for the next round of plants to grow, becoming another integral part of the bio-diverse system.
“We usually have a lot of our own mulch, but the drought has been really hard. If you get stuck, sometimes sugarcane mulch can be really helpful”.
Walls of climbing beans are planted around part of the circles circumference to act as a shield for the plants in the windy season, especially tomatoes and corn.
There is so much that can be done from small spaces to large ones and if you are looking to learn how to make the best of what you have, Kate and Mark are the people to come see.
Offering courses in Permaculture Design, which offers a whole system approach to ecological planning and growing. It is the ultimate sustainability tool and a great skill set to have. Combining traditional knowledge with new modern design, the next course start 17th of February and spaces are limited. Purple Pear Farm offers an internship program, where people can engage on a program to learn a wide range of farming skills including sustainable farming with an emphasis on intensive market gardening (PDC is a pre requisite).
Kate and Mark know the importance of education in young people, the children of our future and with their educational background, created a range of children’s activities to get kids outside with their hands in the dirt.
Farm tours are available for parents with small children, with the opportunity to engage with the farm animals. School holiday farm activities are to engage kids in gardening, crafting activities and interaction with the farm animals. For schools our there, the duo offer tours for groups that can be adapted to introduce various aspects of curriculum to the farm.
“Education is at the core of food studies and farming”.
The pair sell their good through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). How this works is customers subscribe at the beginning of each season and they receive a box of produce weekly for that period. In the abundant seasons of winter and summer, the boxes can be overflowing.
“Some people don’t know what to do with so much food. It can be overwhelming but there is so many uses for different types of food, you’ve just got to learn how to use them”.
In between seasons sometimes the boxes can be a bit on the lighter side, due to the transitional phase, but when you learn the cycle of food produce farming you understand it’s natural ways.
Sharing some time with the couple, their passion for food and its sustainable practice was inspiring. Their passion to teach their practices, growing their food culture and engaging with the community.
“I love to trade items. There is stuff I can do that I can offer to someone else and things that I can’t do that someone can share with me. That’s what community is about.”
With smiles, joy and so much kindness, Purple Pear Farm is a hub of creativity, education and community feeling. You can find out more details on courses and where to buy their items below. As we are moving into a future where there is more awareness around health, food security and practices, Purple Pear Farm is a one stop shop for all your organic food, questions and curious minds.
What they grow: Everything in seasonal form. Lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, carrot, beetroot, snake beans, corn, tomatoes, pumpkin and so much more!
How they grow it: Permaculture practices, organic, pesticide free, chemical free. Where to purchase it: https://www.purplepearfarm.com.au/fresh-food through the CSA Subscription System or get in contact with Kate and Mark.