Windjana Wellness Principles

Our aim is to grow fresh organic, highly nutritious food, here in Derby, all year round using Permaculture Design and Natural Farming methods.

The extensive gardens at Kimberley Cottages are being developed according to Permaculture Ethics & Principles. Our intention is to utilize the natural resources around us in order to develop self-sustaining food producing gardens that will provide reliable, fresh, nutritious food.

At the moment in Derby, apart from  people who go fishing & hunting on a regular basis almost every bite we eat has traveled on a truck for at least a week before it gets to the Supermarket shelves. Thus it cannot be considered fresh and is most likely heavily laced with preservatives and pesticides.

Our primary food supply depends on the road network both from Perth and the eastern states.  In times of flood or other catastrophes there is less than one weeks supply of food available in our stores.

However, in order to grow food both in the home garden and for the general community, there are a few issues that we need to think about and overcome in order to do this in a natural way without too much back breaking labour and effort.

This can mean changing some of our expectations even, changing what we eat! However if these changes can make us healthier, thus happier and more self sufficient they are probably worthwhile.

Inspired by the Chinese,  Japanese, Station and mission gardens that were established in Broome and Derby in the early part of the last century to feed the growing towns and communities, we are attempting to grow perennial and seasonal foodstuffs with natural farming methods and utilizing local resources such as  --waste food composting (Bokashi),   -- animal manures and   --  green manures grown on site.

In the early days of european settlement there were no State Ships or sealed roads with trucks bringing regular food  supplies from south and east. The newcomers had to rely on their own resources and what was to hand.


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There was  no poly-pipe to run water and no artificial fertilizers.   Local people relied on seasonal bush food, fishing and hunting but gradually their food sources and ability gather food was taken away from them either through dispossession of land or confinement to settlements.  Often it was the locals who supplied the labour for the mission and station gardens

If we look at traditional Asiatic farming practices, we discover that these farmers knew, that nothing would grow unless the soil itself was fed and as much moisture as possible was kept in the soil or gathered close to food growing areas.

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The food that nourishes soil is anything that has come from it and has lived. The soil is not only the source of life but its controller, thus, what goes into the soil determines what comes out.

In the bush we see trees growing and dropping their leaves, the leaves provide both protection and nourishment for the soil. When rain comes the new trees constantly appear in soil that has been nourished by animal droppings and rotting vegetation. The Bush does all this without any help from man and it ‘wastes’ nothing.   By copying nature’s way we can create our own ‘Food Forest’ with little effort on our part, leaving Nature to do most of the work. This is the first principle of Permaculture.   A key Permaculture technique that supports this principal is that of ‘chop & drop’ i.e. constantly pruning fast growing trees to provide both mulch and food for the soil.

Here in Derby during the wet we have fast growing leguminous trees such as acacia (wattle) moringa, gliricidia sepium (mother of cocoa) peanuts and mung beans also virtually grow wild during the wet along with bamboo, lemon grass & vetiver.  All these plants can provide the humus and nutrition our soil needs to grow those food crops that we have become accustomed to and dependent upon

Another key aspect of our garden development here is Bokashi composting. Feeding the soil with fermented food waste. Also, the practices of  Natural Farming (NF). These techniques encourage indigenous micro-organisms in the soil through composting and fermentation  and utilize organic waste products to feed the soil and the growing plants.

Given the porous quality of our Pindan soils and the often extreme vagaries of very hot, very dry or very wet aspects of our climate it’s important to provide a holding capacity for the micro-organisms cultivated in the soil.   This is the function of Bio-char. Again, looking at how nature does it and how people have managed nature to their advantage through centuries.   Locals here in the Kimberley knew that if they burned a certain piece of bush the regrowth would be strong. Part of this practice is the need of some plants to be stimulated by smoke to germinate, part is the charcoal left by the fire providing “apartment blocks’ or little reefs for the micro-organisms to live in. Charcoal is porous, it consists of millions of tiny spaces in which soil organisms can nest and multiply and thus provide food to growing plants.

Interesting references: 

Permaculture Designers Manual     Bill Mollison   Tagari Press

Farmers of Forty Centuries        Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea & Japan by B.L. King