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Capturing water before it runs off your property is pretty key to rehydrating parched landscapes. Building ‘swales’ or channels along contour with un-compacted mounds is one way of assisting water infiltration.
Building swales can also be an expensive exercise utilising heavy machinery which is expensive to transport and hire.
Nick Huggins, of Jacmarall Farm uses an innovative way of building smaller swales that is within the economic reach of most small farmers. Using pigs to do the bulk of the digging work, Nick calls this ‘pigscavation’.
Essentially, the penned pigs are fed a grain ration each day for their nutrients, but then allowed, in a pen of approximately 4 by 2 metres, to dig the soil, searching for roots and eating the grass. The pigs dig down 2-3 feet in this process and effectively loosen the soil in the pen each day, being moved daily if not twice to fresh pasture.
The pigs are housed in a pen with fresh water, food and shelter from the elements, but it is quite a simply operation to fold back the shelter, separate it, move the pen and reconnect the fencing back up each morning.
Following the pigs, Nick manually shifts the dirt that the pigs have loosened and piles it up to form the mound part of the swale, mulching it with straw as he goes and it usually takes around 30min to complete the task.
Not only are the pigs having a great time, they are well looked after and happy, but they are doing productive work on the farm and the kind of work or (natural instinctive behaviour) pigness of the pig.
Jacmarall Farm is outside of Tarago in the NSW Southern Tablelands. The farm is 100 acres of pasture which is in the process of being sustainably rehabilitated to a productive, profitable, regenerative enterprise.
Students had a chance to learn more about this process by joining Nick Huggins and Martyn Noakes at a weekend Earthworks Practicum at Bredbo Valley Farm on 24 and 25th November. For more information about upcoming courses email email@example.com
Nick Huggins: Permaculture has always been in Nick’s blood. With a focus on repairing the Australian landscape, feeding 7 billion people and creating new enterprises and forms of fair exchange. A student of Geoff and Nadia Lawton and a self professed permaculture entrepreneur, Nick has a real passion for helping people make a new career start in Permaculture Business. Nick lives on a 103 acre farm in the Southern Tablelands town of Tarago NSW. His current vocation sees him travel all over Australia designing, consulting and educating permaculture full time, teaching at world renowned education facilities like The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, to students from around the globe. See Nick’s Professional Permaculture & Business CV online.
The first Canberra region Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) held under the banner of Permaculture eXchange took place during the months of September and October of this year. With 18 students coming from many areas in Canberra, Queanbeyan as well as more far afield places such as Cooma and Jindabyne.
The group offered two Scholarship positions on the course, one of these taken up by Fred Rinaldi from the Bredbo Community Landcare Group.
The PDC was taught in combination within both a classroom and a community garden environment at Lanyon Homestead, Tharwa, with site visits to amazing urban and rural permaculture systems. Held over four weekends the course wrapped up on the 10th and 11th November with a practical weekend at Bredbo Valley View Farm.
This world-recognised, 72-hour course provided an introduction to permaculture as set forth by movement founder Bill Mollison. Investment in the course included a copy of Bill Mollison’s Permaculture: A Designers Manual. The focus for this inaugural Permaculture eXchange course was on permaculture systems with local application, being the cool temperate climate of the local bio-region.
Nick Huggins and Martyn Noakes lead the teaching, along with guest lecturer Yvonne Noakes. Practical opportunities included a visit to Paul Crawford’s house at Mawson in Canberra. Students were also invited to bring details of their own sites or potential sites to consider during the course.
With sustainability becoming an increasing influence in our everyday lives, the course covered sustainable living systems including the application of permaculture principles to food production, home design, construction, energy conservation and generation, and explored alternative economic structures and legal strategies supporting permaculture solutions.
The Permaculture eXchange PDC course allows graduates to set out ready to design and implement permaculture principles into a wide range of applications; from urban permaculture systems to small farms broad acre .
Permaculture eXchange will be running more permaculture courses in the Capital region over the coming 12 months, including 2 Permaculture Design Certificate courses. Register your interest for 2013 courses here.
About the Teachers:
Nick Huggins: Permaculture has always been in Nick’s blood. With a focus on repairing the Australian landscape, feeding 7 billion people and creating new enterprises and forms of fair exchange. A student of Geoff & Nadia Lawton and a self professed permaculture entrepreneur, Nick has a real passion for helping people make a new career start in Permaculture Business. Nick lives on a 103 acre farm in the Southern Tablelands town of Tarago NSW. His current vocation sees him travel all over Australia designing, consulting and educating permaculture full time, teaching at world renowned education facilities like The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, to students from around the globe. See Nick’s Professional Permaculture & Business CV online.
He believes there is nothing more important than healthy, nutritious, chemical-free food and clean water. Martyn, along with his wife Yvonne and two boys, run a 1200 acre property near Bredbo, South of Canberra. Martyn and Yvonne farm using biodynamic methods, growing heritage vegetables and raising Free Range Berkshire pigs, Plymouth Rock Chickens and Belted Galloway Cattle. A large portion of their property is being managed for conservation as they see it as essential to maintain as small a footprint as possible on the environment in such brittle country as the Monaro.
Martyn has been an active member of both the local Land Care Group and the Natural Sequence Farming Association and is a member of the Ecological Agriculture Association of Australia. Community is important to Martyn and Yvonne, they hold annual events on their property including apple crushing and wild berry picking. In the future they hope to run workshops on activities as diverse as straw bale chicken house building, sausage making, scything, wood fired oven building and pig keeping.
Permaculture eXchange supports a bio-region that includes the ACT and South Eastern areas of NSW.
We aim to bring education and information to people working in the field of sustainability utilising permaculture and holistic farming management practices.
Founded in 2012
- Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) courses
- Introduction to Permaculture
- Earthworks Practicum
- Permaculture Design in Action