TERRA is about creating flourishing regenerative landscapes,
both social and ecological.
The permaculture ethics of
Care for the Land
Care for the People
and Fair Share
guide our every process as we create resilient, closed loop systems that satisfy our need for wholesome, fresh, natural and locally-produced food.
Discover TERRA through the lens of film...
Integrating traditional farming practices with cutting-edge agricultural science, TERRA uses permaculture design to implement a productive and beautiful landscape that mimics the balance and resilience found in natural ecosystems. As such, certain principles are the foundation of the way we run things…
NO DIG BEDS
We could have ploughed our beds with a tractor and planted straight into them within hours...
Out of respect for the complex microbiology that makes up the goodness present in our living soil, we chose not to dig.
Rather, we heavily sheet mulched the grass with cardboard, straw or hay, to prevent the grass from growing through, and then added generous quantities of good compost on top - ready to be planted straight into: no compaction, no fossil fuels and some very happy plants!
Prevention is always better than treatment, right?
In regenerative agriculture, we use prevention by companion planting, applying compost teas and increasing biodiversity.
At TERRA, we have taken into account symbiotic relationships between different plants and have used these to our advantage. Whether it's chives under our fruit trees, marigolds by our salads or celery next to our potatotes, we're making sure plants are part of a diverse community rather than rows and rows of monocultured sameness!
Between rows of fruit trees we planted vegetables. Between rows of vegetables we seeded fruit bushes, herbs and flowers.
Then we added some animals to the mix: bees, dogs, ducks, humans ...
And now we are close to creating an edible landscape that has the diversity, resilience and balance of a natural forest….
We prune our trees, weed our beds, and collect food scraps. Then we throw them on the pile of our work-in-progress compost. Locally-sourced compost and manure goes onto the beds which grow our veggies. Then those veggies feed the community. The scraps end up on the compost; which ends up back on beds… You get the idea, right? Waste is not a concept known to nature, or us. At TERRA, we’ve poked some holes in the closed loop system to build bridges. After all, community puts the ‘C’ in CSA.
COMMUNITY - SUPPORTED
In its simplest terms, community supported agriculture (CSA) is an alternative, locally-based economic model of agriculture and food distribution that brings producers and consumers together in the creation of resilient food systems that work with, rather than against, nature.
Taking cues from nature, an unbroken system of interlinked and eternally interconnected parts, members pay at the onset of, and commit to an entire growing season to receive a weekly share of whatever nature’s harvest yields. Growers and consumers become a close-knit community that share the risk and benefits of food production in tune with nature.
It is the support of members as well as the ties to other like-minded local producers that puts the ‘Community’ In Community Supported Agriculture. As such, all manner of produce can be part of a CSA - in TERRA’s case: eggs, potatoes, grapes, teas, and even wine.
Environmental protection: Produce is grown on a small scale and distributed locally. This both minimises energy costs of production and reduces cross-country transportation. Bye-bye carbon footprint from air miles and unnecessary pollution.
Human & ecosystem health: Most CSAs are run organically or are certified organic. Pesticides and chemical-fertilisers can hit the road.
Regenerating Community: Where there is a CSA, there are educational community events creating social cohesion around the bottom line: FOOD! Farm tours, workshops and courses, potlucks, and educational opportunities for all foster nature rehabilitation for a humanity that has lost touch with its roots.
Rethinking Models: The cooperative model allows a loan-free existence and complete independence from institutions and outside pressure. CSA is accessible to people of all levels of income thanks to generous members who donate baskets to others.
For the Farmer: CSAs most effectively benefit the farm and its farmers - economically, environmentally, and emotionally. Roots up has always been the way to go to create healthy systems.
THE LAY OF THE LAND
Since 2014, the loving hands of an ever-growing community have been tending to the 1.5 hectares of soil, orchards and fields that make up TERRA according to all the principles above. Community is cultivated as much as the crops. A wide range of traditional varieties of fruit trees spaced 10 m apart allow for rows of perennial and annual vegetables, herbs, beneficial flowers and philosophical conversations to be cultivated in between - thus creating a resilient and diverse agricultural system that honours the balance, biodiversity and joy found in natural ecosystems.
TERRA is home to both food and friends of the forest.
Insects of all kinds and colours buzz between bushes and flit around flowers and perennials intentionally sown in symbiotic relationships. There’s a fox who slinks around the duck shelter and an extremely territorial raven couple who have taken to communicating with Christiane. Big forest ants, usually found in woods, march by the toilets in a loud display of the biodiversity and balance in the ecosystem. TERRA is always alive and teeming with breathtaking life of all shapes and sizes.
Over the years, TERRA has grown from about 30 to 65 fields. Throughout the season, the beds bloom with all manner of delicacies to fill your baskets. We have experimented with kiwi, melons, sechuan peppers and many more. The beds remain protected and un-compacted thanks to the footpaths that line them; for every 70 cm of beds there are 30 cm of footpaths - just enough to harvest and munch as you make bad veggie puns with fellow harvesters.
TERRA is home to 4 greenhouses and 3 movable caterpillar tunnels built by the labour of love and teamwork.
In the summer heat, scores of tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, basil, and other classics ripen. And thanks to the micro-climate, the growing season extends into spring and autumn to allow for carrots, salads, radishes, fennel, and spring onions to name a few.
In 2015, indian runner ducks joined the TERRA TEAM and saved us from slugs; every gardener’s adversary. 4 Generations and one half-human half-duckling later (Bernadette was orphaned and was brought up by Christiane’s; causing her to believe she was human) a flock of 11 remain, quacking their way around with Velutha herding them. As for the bees: well without them there'd be no ecosystem (and occasionally they provide us with delicious sunny honey).