Deep Winter Agrarian Gathering 2017

This past weekend we had the privilege of attending the Deep Winter Agrarian Gathering held in Bangalow, NSW. Deep Winter is an un-conference of small scale organic farmers and farmers friends which was attended by 200 folks this year from all over the country. It was really great to speak to so many like minded people and I had a really fantastic time. Brodie and I went with the rest of the Falls Farm crew.

On Friday a farm tour was organised to see 4 farms in the Byron Bay area. We started off the day at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market with a breakfast of delicious Japanese food. I also picked up some creamy brie to have with fresh bread for lunch.


The first stop on the farm tour was The Farm at Byron Bay, which was a really interesting business model. All of the enterprises there were tenants and the farmers supplied the restaurant. The produce would have almost non-existent food miles and be extremely fresh. It is a good deal for the farmers and the restaurant.



The second stop was Boonluck Farm in the Byron hinterlands. They supply restaurants in Sydney owned by Palissa and her family. The head gardener follows the work of Dr Elaine Ingham and he is an extremely knowledgeable man who knew all about soil biology and how to encourage fungal growth in the soil. I think everyone who attended learnt a lot in the time and I certainly have some more research to do.


The third place where we also had lunch was the Mullumbimby Community Gardens. It was on a 5 acre block which is quite unusual for a community garden. It was encouraging to see so many locals had plots in the gardens. Joel from Future Feeders showed us his permaculture market garden and how he is planning on working together with other small plot farmers in the area.



The fourth and final spot was at Life Force Organics on the flood plains near Mullumbimby. They used high tech irrigation that the farmer could turn on remotely and monitor the weather. They also had heavily used weedmats on the growing area which I haven't experienced before. It was good to see but I probably wouldn't do it myself due to the cost and also the embodied energy used to produce the plastic. Plus all my plants would bake in the summer!


We had a really great discussion back at the house and stayed up late drinking Victoria's wine Konpira Maru which was so delicious. She has started using local Queensland grapes, which is uncommon in Australian wine and was very nice to drink.

After a slow morning on Saturday we eagerly headed up to the Bangalow hall to begin the 'un-conference'. After the moving welcome to country, there were a variety of different topics presented and discussed and included topics like Land Access, Organic Certification, Distribution Models, Marketing, Customer Relationships and Young Farmer Mentorships. All of the sessions ended up like a discussion group as there was a lot of different situations in the rooms and we learnt a lot from each others experiences. It is so heartening to see so many young farmers trying to get into farming, and some doing exceedingly well. We met a few farmers near Brisbane as well that we would like to tee up with in the future.

Saturday night was the social at Byron Creek Farm. They had massive amounts of salads and roast veges, and had cooked multiple chickens and a suckling pig on the spit. I loved eating so much super local produce. It was an extremely productive and inspiring weekend. My head is full of ideas and knowledge and I have a lot of things to look into. Looking forward to what the future holds and to get going on our property!




5 comments

  1. Your photos are just beautiful. It sounds like you had a wonderful time, and that suckling pig sounds delicious!

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  2. Such an eye opener. To actually visit these places and learn so much about them is gold. Knowing where our food comes from and what is involved is very interesting.
    200 people from all over the country including many young is wonderful and like you said being with like minded people all on the same page.
    Eating fresh produce from the local area, supporting farms as well as the health benefits and great taste tops it all off perfectly.
    Kylie

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    Replies
    1. It's such an important part of our lives which is very easily ignored. Eating fresh, seasonal food is good for our health and better for the environment. It was a really fantastic weekend.

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  3. What a fantastic event to be able to attend. How did you get involved in this event?

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