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Where is Your Refuge? Find a Beautiful Farm. Look After Each other.

Updated: Jul 14, 2023


Gardenfarm tea time, with visitors from Callignee. The Black Saturday's fires wiped out their little town 10 years ago.
From day one of this decade, we learned that our only true security is in each other.

Like many of us, I know the feeling of loving and losing a home. When I take on a home, I go all-out, finding wonderful people to live with me, and turning it into a Permaculture Paradise. I know the actual owner will want it back one day. The sweet sorrow of parting is always on my horizon. That's my fate, for now.

When I had to leave my inner-Sydney house, I decided to find the most beautiful farm, move in, and make it even more beautiful. It would attract lovely helpers for my projects, and be part of the upward spiral. That's the spiral you want to be on. Downward, no good.

And that's how I came to set up a light and lovely home in a cottage at Gardenfarm, South Gippsland. 3 hours from my family in Melbourne.


You could do this too, without leaving your own home.


How to find a farm that will love you back

Find a convivial farm family, and make them your family, on weekends and between jobs. Be a blessing, do the 'luxury' work that they don't get around to doing. Set your boundaries early, choose people you like, and protect them from their weak points, when they are around you. Learn these skills, and relationships can last and last. Without these skills, you'd have to save up for your own place, or go without. What a waste. You could declutter a hut, and fix it up as your holiday home. Make an agreement to rent it out when you aren't there, then you can invest in making it opulent. Teach them how to make kombucha, improve their websites, and offer your city skills. Farms are big, humans are small, and farms have infinite uses of human attention. One good farm friendship can mean freedom for you, and the fun but non-essential farmer's work gets done.


From day one of this decade, as monster bushfires ate up Australia, we were reminded of our fragility. Reminded that our true security is in each other.


Gardenfarm's custodian/ farmer is Bob Tatnell. He writes poetry, and grows almost everything. 'Paradise for all creatures' seems to be his goal. I was good at the bits he and his family weren't up to, the Japanese bits. We embarked on a brave declutter. Stuff by the truckfull went back to where it came from: the op shop. We re-started the WWOOF volunteer program, and these clever generous travelers beautified the details of life: making bread, picking fruit. Elegant dinners with placemats and candles honoured our visitors and ourselves.

For the first time in my life, my microbiome got pure water, pure air, and pure food. This has probably never happened to you, becoming the poison-free ecosystem you were destined to be, with all the microbes you need for perfect health. When the day's work was done, I can take my pick of enchanted fragrant forests and streams to walk through, with a bird-made soundtrack celebrating another good day.



Organic Farms will be the Luxury Wellness Retreats of the Future.

Gardenfarm evolves. This month, Unyoked tiny houses are coming. I'll rent out my cottage and spend more time in Melbourne. Glamorous Lotus tent villages are being set up by the river. A low-tech, high-end wellness retreat is being planned, inviting the coolest people we can think of.

Here is your homework

'Homework' is the work we do to make the world a homely place, for ourselves and all creatures. I must hold in my mind that this is the only thing truly worth doing.


- Join WWOOF. Find good family farmers, and go help each other.

- Share this post, connect with me, and if you see anyone who needs to be reminded that life is a miracle, send them on a weekend away to Gardenfarm.



There is all the time in the world for elegant dinners, straight from the garden. I made this zesty dish vegan: cauliflower nuggets in chickpea batter, with beetroot relish, dill, and broad beans.

Tracy the WWOOFer works hard, then has apple time under the apple tree. Bob feeds us on strawberries and cream from his land.


The good people of Callignee came over in their community bus, to learn how to be better gardeners and neighbors. Their town was wiped out in Black Saturday Bushfires. Neighbour Anna gives us artichokes, and Lin the WWOOFer plants flowers.


Views are from the Farmhouse kitchen window, and walks to the post box and swimming hole.


Paradise for all creatures includes time for meditation, reflection, and blissing out on the sounds and fragrances of this world. For all of us. An audacious chicken seeks her true self, in my bedroom.


Gardenfarm's rescue chickens, live out their days amongst lavender and pure flowing streams. The big bull spends family time with his pregnant wife Lakshmi and son Zorro. She is milked by hand and gets to keep her calf till he is grown. Drawing by Cecilia Macaulay. Me!


There are many secret campsites, all with a river nearby. "It's like the Magic Faraway Tree," said the children, thrilled to roam unsupervised, turning sticks and rocks into kingdoms. There is a spot rock bottom and pristine water, with watercress for your dinner growing on its banks. Here I am, spending dappled family time here, just existing.


There are many secret campsites, all with a river nearby. 'It's like the Magic Faraway Tree', said the children, thrilled to roam unsupervised and make their own adventure, their own fantasy world.


Roast dinner on the verandah is a Gardenfarm favourite, just like my Great Grandma probably made. No mosquitos: the frogs ate them. The Lotus Bell tents will host our guests on Australia Day. Help us create an enchanted table setting like this one I found on the internet. Planning and resourcefulness can make all the dreams real.


Click here, and hold your workshops and retreats at Gardenfarm. Rent a cabin, and have a lovely holiday in nature.

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