One big bare sandy paddock, one shed, one water tank, two mature eucalypts on the boundary and random assortment of scraggly exotic trees.
Here I stood. Three years ago, inspecting a very blank canvas after being approached to consult on a commercial project – with a twist.
The brief was a productive landscape design to complement a stunning cellar door and feed a world class restaurant. However, the special part was that this “garden” was embedded in the ethos of connection and collaboration – the backbone of success for Artisans of the Barossa.
Artisans of the Barossa are a collective of small batch Barossa winemakers who have resisted the push towards commercialisation of the wine industry and steered their own ventures with independence and artistic license.
Together, they form a strong collective, the Artisans of the Barossa and this business structure has fostered community spirit and supported individual expression in wine making for the past 16 years.
Therefore, it makes perfect sense that this spirited collective wanted to incorporate key principles of Agroecology into the landscape design including:
- maximising species diversity
- reducing inputs
- valuing soil health
- promoting ecological services such as pollination and nutrient cycling
The landscape design has three components, a kitchen garden, an orchard and an insectarium. No plant in the design does not have a role.
- Some plants are FOOD PRODUCERS – edible plants bearing fruits, leaves, flowers and roots for harvest
- Some plants are COMPANION PLANTS – encouraging strong growth and productivity through nutrient cycling and/or attracting pollinators.
- Some plants are ATTRACTORS – offering shelter and food to encourage diversity of insect species and in particular beneficial insects to fight off pests and disease.
There are no roses in this garden. Nope. None. There are no agapanthus, no box hedges and no pansies (unless they are edible). Apart for a few lucky originals, and a lawn that will be the envy of every Barossa Cricket Club – Every living thing in this landscape has a job to do.
Agroecological landscape design, was a perfect fit for this project. It is fundamentally different to other forms of sustainable development – driven from the bottom-up, encouraging growers to come together, to be the change in their communities by using unique approaches at the local level.
The blank canvas has now started to take shape. The build almost finished, plants ordered and hands about to get dirty. The Artisans of the Barossa were looking for their new home and it promises to complement their ethos.
By Sarah Barrett