The roots of Indara Farms‘s permaculture operation go back to the days when founder Stephanie Cutmore grew up on a hobby farm. Cutmore says she has fond memories of “having the space and a large backyard that became my playground, making cubby houses in old gum trees, searching for tadpoles in creeks [and] making picnics on granite outcrops.”
Years later, Cutmore eventually founded her own venture, which is situated in Meckering, Western Australia. Along with an emphasis on permaculture farming techniques, the hobby farm also maintains a strong focus on producing vibrant flowers.
We spoke to Cutmore about her commitment to a permaculture philosophy and her recommended entry level tips. We also got into the importance of to-do lists.
Following the Permaculture Philosophy
“I was studying permaculture. While a lot of people associate permaculture with food, it also encourages you to think of ways to make the farm self-sustainable,” says Cutmore when asked about why she decided to make flowers such a focus of her farm.
“I am in a semi-arid area where a beautiful market garden probably wasn’t going to be sustainable, at least over the summer months where we lack rainfall,” she explains. “I was looking at our soil types and what would grow well here and realized that cut native flowers could work. They required a lot less water. They suited the soil types because I would choose ones that were suited to our growing conditions here. And they were being illegally harvested in the natural environment or grown overseas and imported with lots of chemical use involved.”
Cutmore sensed that she was being presented with an opportunity to not just grow flowers in a sustainable fashion and with permaculture principles in mind, but to also “educate people about the slow flower local movement that was starting to happen around the world.”
Lavender, Eucalyptus & Acacias
When it comes to selecting flowers for the farm, Cutmore says that she has been “planting tube stock since last year.” The most bountiful varieties to date, she adds, are acacias and eucalyptus.
“There is also an old lavender planting here which also does incredibly well,” she adds. “That is one underestimated tough Mediterranean plant! Our summers we can reach up to 48 degrees Celsius and can go five months with no rain so it is a harsh hot summer for plants.”
Committing to Permaculture
“Permaculture has given me the tools and guidance I needed to get started,” says Cutmore of her abiding farming principles. She adds that these ethics are now “engrained in the way I think and help guide me to make decisions on the farm.”
The Importance of Planning
Keen to add permaculture tactics to your own gardening and farming routine? Cutmore suggests spending time teaching yourself about the key principles through reading books, watching YouTube videos and seeking out local proponents to chat with.
“The next thing would be to really sit back and take time to design on paper first,” she continues. “Get out the pencils and the measuring tapes and get all your ideas for your farm drawn out on paper. You don’t have to be an artist—you just need somewhere to start giving your ideas life.”
“I even created a vision board initially and I look back on this A3 page with cut-out magazine pictures and smile because I can also now look outside and see that vision been brought to life,” she adds. “You can always erase on paper—however it’s harder to move a concreted chicken coop if you change your mind later.”
Read more: Plan out your farm for maximum efficiency.
Don’t Fear Those To-Do Lists!
Finally, Cutmore says that while farm duties may seem endless, it’s important to maintain a sense of balance between responsibility and enjoyment.
“I keep reminding myself to slow down and appreciate how far we have come because the to-do lists never end on a hobby farm,” she says. “You can get caught up in all the doing and forget to enjoy the current moment.”
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