Derby Farm Stay

Trip Start Jul 20, 2004
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Trip End Jul 20, 2015


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Flag of Australia  ,
Saturday, September 10, 2005

After staying with Bonnie for a week, I went back to Launceston to stay with my friends before heading to Peter's place in Derby. Peter has 50 acres of river front property in the Mutual Valley, 4 kilometers from the heritage listed town of Derby in NE Tasmania.

His focus is on sustainability and he has a house and garden of 3/4 acre as well as 1/2 acre of orchard. His lives without any electricity ... most people are surprised at how comfortable this can be. There are many wild animals and birds in his vicinity...some of them are endangered species...many are close to the house. He enjoys chess, sudoku, long conversations and bush walking,...some very special places around here....and many other pursuits. He also sells vegetable seeds to several of Australia's major Heritage Seed Companies.

Here is what he states in his help exchange listing: "If you want to experience my form of sustainable living... if you want to learn to make soap and bread and to cook vegetarian meals without buying (most of) your ingredients...if you want to garden without digging (much), and learn how to encourage soil fertility without using large amounts of imported organic matter and manures...if you are interested in why I believe that there is probably no really sustainable form of alternative energy to fossil fuels and why we need to be able to adapt to a simpler lifestyle then you are welcome to contact me. I get many guests who repeat their stay...often returning for months...several have come back here after having been back overseas...all of them leave inspired...well some only leave inspired to improve their chess game in order to return".

In less than a week, i learned a lot from Pete who is a regular contributor to the Tasmanian Journal of Organic Agriculture and to Gardenweb.com. Every day, we ate fresh picked salad consisting of Miners lettuce, Chick Weed, Mizuna, Tat Soi (an Asian salad green that is most often eaten raw but is also combined with other greens and prepared in cooked foods. Tat soi has a dark green, spoon-shaped leaf with a light green to white stalk that form into shiny rosette-like shapes. Has a mild mustard or cabbage flavor), and edible flowers such as Pansy and Calendula.
I learned to make and bake bread (very yummy), appreciated porridge with Kiwi Jam, making wood fires, digging for potatoes, weeding and watching the many Blue Wrens, Kookaburras, Parrots and Pademelons. But the best things were the composting toilet and the worm farm. Here is how it works; the toilet is a bucket for peeing and crapping. Every time someone uses the toilet, the waste is covered with earth (the blue bucket in the picture). Once the waste bucket is full, Peter adds it to the HUGE worm farm tanks. The tank is teeming with millions of earth worms working away on human waste and food left overs producing superb black soil ready to be spread on the beds when needed. It's just amazing watching the worms working their tails off.

And for fun, we played sudoku, other games, read the newspaper or just talked. And that all by a warm fire with lots of tea and kerosene lamps.

I was sad to leave Derby but I had to get ready for the Overland Track. Due to bad weather forecasted, I changed my plans and headed to Hobart first. In Hobart, I am staying with Helen who is a oncology nurse at the hospital. I headed up to Mt. Wellington where i got totally soaked by the oncoming rain front. Waiting out the days until the rain has gone, I will head out to the Overland Track on Monday.
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