Hi Guys! Tell us a little about yourselves and Freelove Farms please.
We are Josh and Amber. Josh is a nature-man from Canada, and a landscaper by trade. I am a resourceful dabbler and natural educator who enjoys networking with people. We began our permaculture dream in Athenree 18 months ago. With time, patience, and a really good wheelbarrow we’ve been converting a half-acre Kaikuyu sheep paddock into a unique and diverse growing platform; with an incredible view to boot. We initially started with flower and vegetable beds, but since lockdown we have extended our boundary to create the beginnings of a modest food forest (on a very steep hill no less), a wildflower meadow and made our first attempt to grow grains. We also landscape on the side to help fund our endless list of projects.
Permaculture means a lot to you guys; can you explain why?
For us permaculture is a lifestyle; it dictates our daily decisions and choices and embodies a natural way of doing things that we love. It’s all about experimentation and using creative systems to solve problems and minimise waste. For example, we have filled the ceiling space of our greenhouse with an aquaponics system. Here goldfish feed our strawberries and lettuces and, in return, the plants clean the water for the fish through recirculating the water. It’s a simple design that took a little understanding, some clever plumbing and challenged our creativity.
What is your dream for the farm and where are you now?
One day we hope to make this venture an educational facility; hosting workshops and sharing our successes and failures. Right now we are in the foundational phase – sowing seeds so to speak. We are constantly working towards self-sufficiency; as the closed-loop cycle underpins permaculture. Lockdown was a blessing for us, not only with the time and stillness it offered, but also the introspection. How could we sustain ourselves without depending on the outside world to feed us, pay us, entertain us, whilst still playing an active role in the community? We’ve started by growing food and making our own beer, and the rest will flow from there.
How important is the local community to what you are doing?
Community is intricately woven through our journey. If you’ve ever had a coffee at the Flatwhite, your spent coffee grounds have been added to our compost. If you’ve employed Arborist Joel Clarke to remove your trees, there’s a good chance the mulch ended up in our garden. If you answered our plea for cardboard, be rest assured it’s snuffing out the Kaikuyu as we speak. If you’ve ever told us the flowers you’re buying are for someone special, you’ve warmed our hearts. Likewise if you’ve returned and told us how good our produce is, you’ve encouraged us to keep going. Thank you!
Growing things is pretty darn lovely. You must feel warm fuzzies all the time. How can we follow your progress and live vicariously through your project?
Our Facebook page. There’s always something interesting to share, it’s just a matter of having the spare energy! Also keep an eye out for our ‘Open Gate’ days this Spring for an opportunity to meet, greet, pick and eat. We’ll be extending an open invitation for the curious to explore our gardens, meet us, ask questions, admire the Spring foliage, pick-a-posy… or just be nosey! We hope visitors will take home some new ideas for their own space.
And of course, we’re super excited for the Waihi Beach Sunday Market to restart at Labour Weekend. Come find us and have a yarn!