EVERYTHING Mara Ripani and Ralf Pfleiderer grow on their farm they hope to share in some way - their learnings, harvest bounty and cooking and preserving skills.
The couple has been carefully creating Orto Farm in Blampied, overlooked by Mount Franklin, the past four years with a focus on increasing biodiversity and productivity. At the same time, they are inviting the public into their kitchen for gastronomy sessions.
Traditional homemade pasta class - orecchiette and pasta alla chitarra - is first on the menu this month in a tilt to Mara's Italian heritage. Sourdough baking, fermenting, yoghurt making, soap making and preserves will also feature in classes Mara and Ralph hope will inspire others to explore and grow their own kitchen gardens.
We want to contribute to food security. We know a lot of little farmers are doing just that. We want to play our part.Mara Ripani
"We want to contribute to food security. We know a lot of little farmers are doing just that," Mara said. "We want to play our part."
This is a dream coming together for Mara and Ralph who left their small urban home to develop a thriving permaculture garden.
Mara's has more than 20 years' experience as a sustainability educator, maintaining a focus on culture change in ecology, nature literacy and food appreciation.
They drew on inspiration and learning from permaculture experts, like Hepburn Springs' David Holmgren, adapting what is sustainable methods for growing food from their urban garden into their 15-acre Blampied farm.
Permaculture incorporates a broad approach to promoting resilience of natural ecosystems.
On Orto Farm, this can be found in wild life corridors and windbreaks to capture carbon and create a cooler microclimate. Wetlands encourage aquatic and plant diversity and, with a full dam after a wet winter, choruses of frogs.
There are fruit orchards, a berry orchard, nut trees and a greenhouse to both propagate seeds and, as a handy warm air pocket, heat main rooms in the house.
But Mara and Ralph are also in the process of also adopting a regenerative farming focus. A key part of this will be in raising free-range pigs using methods to do minimal damage to the soil but "with maximum pleasure for the pigs". Land is rested as the pigs are moved to range different area and pigs will feed off plants grown on the land.For Mara, this is also about learning to capitalise on summer and winter crops.
Their first summer tomato crop yielded 700 kilograms of tomatoes. This was enough to make a year's supply of passata for their family and to share with neighbours - just how they envisage the farm's future.
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