Polyface Farms , and Whole Farm Design Workshops with Darren Doherty
What a month, I certainly found myself drowning in opportunity and immersed in future proofing humanity. Joel Salatin and family presented Fields of Farmers in Manjimup, Darren Doherty ran a Whole Farm Planning Workshop for farmers and regenerative agrarians (regrarians) in the Southwest, and a few days later I was teaching the best Permaculture Design Course I have had the pleasure of running so far.
Opportunities and Change for the better are occurring out there on the local grass roots level, and in true permaculture form refreshingly it requires nothing more than our time and interest to grow.
Fields of Farmers – Polyface Farms, the Salatin family
The number one learning from the Polyface farming enterprise folks, was the fact that you don’t have to do it alone. Community development, farming enterprises, sustainable living- they are all a community act. With the average age of farmers around 65 years old, most ‘farm land’ will change hands in the next 10 years. This significant time presents an opportunity to bring a new generation of regenerative and family based enterprises to large agricultural enterprise. Higher energy costs will encourage, if not force, the need for smaller people powered farms (not large oil powered farms). This means many more of us are going to find meaningful, and perhaps necessary, employment and engagement in land stewardship and providing human needs.
Going hand in hand with the idea that you do not have to do it alone is the fact that someone out there enjoys doing the jobs you hate. More significantly, when you do the job you hate, you actively prevent others from blooming in the areas they love. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and just as permaculture seeks to find plants and animals that fit each niche in our gardens we need to actively communicate opportunities to find the people that can help with our family enterprises.
Farmers are hardworking, traditional thinkers. Unfortunately they rarely find the time (or make time) to smell the roses and celebrate successes, and share the good times. The side effect of this is that they present a farming image that is very unattractive to their children and those around them, in fact we actively turn our kids away from the farm to find higher education so they don’t have to toil their life away for a meager wages and the unappreciative general public consumer.
When Joel Salatin, a well-educated thinking man, mentioned to his university mentors that he was going to start farming the family farm they told him not to throw away such talent and intelligence to waste his life on a farm. I hope we all realise that land stewardship and creating regenerative return of human food is likely the most important, worthwhile and honourable lifestyle one can take on.
So now is the time for change, the new farmers need to make it look sexy, they need to share the load, communicate the opportunities, build a team of people with different skill sets in the business to add value to farms and food direct to the masses. Just as successful plant ecologies are collaborative guilds of value adding, human enterprises must follow this model. It is certain we are in a time for initiatives like Fields of Farmers to grow, and I encourage you all to find your farmers or become one yourself. Farmers need caring and informed consumers, money managers, people managers, ecology managers and collaborative enterprise builders. We can all be a part of that. See more on Polyface.
See the upcoming documentary here – http://vimeo.com/81468461
Some of the footage taken to give you an idea is here – Part 1 Part 2 Terra Perma Youtube
WHOLE FARM PLANNING – with Darren Doherty
While Joel was the inspirational story teller, Darren is the tried and tested ecological farm planner. He has done a few things, hundreds of farm designs, workshops and consults all over the world, and over that time evolved through Keyline Farm planning, RegenAg education, and now is working on his own family ventures.
I must say while down to earth and genuine, Darren was the most polished and effective workshop presenter I have seen. Information and learning topics flowed well with none of the usual “ums” and “errs” and “we will get back to that”, that I often see.
Darren now teaches a Regrarian Farm Planning Platform based on learning’s from permaculture design, holistic management, Keyline scale of permanence, Tree Crops and Agro forestry, Paul Stamnets Fungi , the ecological interconnectedness of Five Kingdoms thinking, and Diffusion of Innovations thinking and self analysis.
In Darrens words the aim is to morph humans into the landscape in a regenerative and cooperative partnership allowing viable farms and essential land stewardship and repair.
The Regrarian Platform process outlines a strategic & logical process to the development of regenerative agricultural systems. Central to this is another innovation ‘IntegriPasture’ which provides an integrated framework for multiple species pastoral and localised processing, logistics and marketing.
Certainly I look forward to working with Darren and more importantly other WA educators and farmers to carry on this great model for regenerative land management for productive and profitable farming ventures. I also look forward to the completion of the Regarian Handbook, a basic sequential guide book for the land stewards of the future.
Successfully bringing and initiating innovative regenerative farming practices to long term multi-generational, isolated and skeptical farmers is a job worth doing and a platform worth supporting. I encourage you all to read and follow the work of this inspirational but practical Aussie.
Thanks for your knowledge and encouragement Darren, and thanks to Warren Catchment council’s Kathy Dawson, AgriFoods sponsorship, and land owners Veronica and Darren Nix for offering up your property and personal journey as palette for our Regrarian learning’s.
Watch part of the introduction session of Darren’s Workshop: