|Cherokee, Victoria, AU
The project involves owner building a self sufficient bushfire resistant residence surrounded by a food forest (300+ trees so far) plus raised no dig vegetable, herbs and seedling beds (12 beds so far) experiments with hugelkultur plus chickens (12 chooks)
I started the food forest many years ago because I'd outgrown the capacity for any further fruit trees in an inner Melbourne terrace backyard. Somehow I've ended up with a collection of around 300+ diverse fruit trees, which seems to be constantly expanding.
In late 2009, I commenced construction of a small residence on the 22 acre block (finished in Dec 11). It's an interesting place because I have no infrastructure supplied which people may or may not take for granted. That means, no water, no sewerage, no garbage pickup, no mail delivery, no electricity. It's a bit like the wild west, yet I'm under an hour from Melbourne by either train or car.
So, I've had to supply all of my own infrastructure. Solar off grid for electricity, rainwater tanks for water, a worm farm for all organic wastes, drainage, roads etc. It's been a challenge! If that wasn't hard enough, the house itself has been constructed to be resistant to bushfires which are a natural occurance in this environment. It incorporates a wide range of features to achieve this and it has been built holistically with this in mind. The windows for example would see off the zombies! Oh yeah, it's also heavily insulated and has an unusual but effective wall and roof design.
You may ask given all of that why would you want to live where I do?
Well, there's a mild climate, good soil and reliable rainfall because of the volcanic massif that rises up behind the house. A drought year will still provide around 500mm of annual rainfall whilst a wet year will bring in excess of 1,400mm. I'm also at around 700m above sea level so at this latitude, there's a 1 degree drop in temperature for roughly every 100m you climb in altitude. What this means is that it's usually about 7 degrees cooler than in Melbourne (which gets quite hot over summer ie. >40 degrees celsius).
The soil is also rich in minerals, but low in organic matter. So if I get the top soil restored then whilst I have a shorter growing season than the surrounding areas, the fruit trees survive and fruit really well without any additional watering.
I've recently expanded my efforts into chickens, vegetables and herbs and both are heaps of fun. We are now self sufficient for herbs, vegetables and eggs.
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