Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

If you’re into fruit growing, there’s a good chance you’ve also heard about permaculture. And if you haven’t, you’re going to love learning about it. To help get you started, we’ve included a list of our favourite books and courses at the end of this blog.

David Holmgren was one of the co-originators of the permaculture concept in the 1970s, along with Bill Mollison. Since then he’s written a number of books and taught permaculture around the world. He’s also developed a number of properties using permaculture principles.

Katie had the pleasure of MCing the launch event in Castlemaine for David’s book Retrosuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future.

Katie, David Holmgren, Beck Lowe, Joel Meadows, and Bron Machin at the launch of Retrosuburbia
Katie, David Holmgren, Beck Lowe, Joel Meadows, and Bron Machin at the launch of Retrosuburbia

Growing fruit as part of a sustainable future

RetroSuburbia is a manual for how to use permaculture thinking to create home-based solutions for a sustainable future. It talks about how to retrofit our homes, gardens, and behaviours.

David and his partner Su’s property “Melliodora” is a great example of how to live a sustainable lifestyle. If you want to see how it works in action, they run regular tours.

A big part of David’s vision for a resilient and sustainable future is seeing household food growing become part of everyday life.

That’s our vision too!

So we’re delighted that our range of Grow Great Fruit ebooks is included in Retrosuburbia. They’re recommended to help people improve their fruit-growing skills. (The books come for free when you join the Grow Great Fruit program).

David Holmgren launching his book Retrosuburbia
David Holmgren launching his book Retrosuburbia

Our vision for a sustainable future

Wanting to spend more time teaching is one of the main reasons we leased out our orchard. Since we started Grow Great Fruit in 2013, it was squeezed into the cracks in our farming life—and to be honest, there weren’t many!

We purposely chose to set up GGF as an online business so that we could reach as many people as possible. Over the years we’ve found the most satisfying part of teaching is the contact with you lovely people—we love hanging out with gardeners!

One of the things we’re really interested in is working with people who will get the most benefit out of growing their own food.

Most people in Australia enjoy pretty good food security and economic prosperity, particularly compared to many other parts of the world. But that’s gradually being eroded as wages drop and inflation rises. High food prices are probably not going away any time soon.

Permaculture and fruit growing

Fruit trees are pretty much a key part of any permaculture system.

A permaculture system might be called a backyard orchard, edible forest garden, food forest, intensive fruit garden, or garden farm. Regardless of the name, they nearly always include fruit trees.

Even though fruit trees can take up a big part of your garden, that doesn’t mean you have to give up other garden plants or features. Permaculture offers some great tools.

For a start, the area under your fruit trees is valuable real estate. It’s a great space to grow perennial vegetables, herbs, and flowers. In fact, you’ll be doing your fruit trees a favour. And if you choose the right plants you can combine beauty with food.

Secondly, fruit trees make good use of the vertical space in your garden. It’s important to manage your trees with pruning to make sure they don’t get too vertical!

Your fruit trees may also provide other benefits. They can protect other parts of the garden from wind, provide shade, and the prunings can be used as animal feed. The shelter of a large tree can even be used as extra outdoor living space.

Even on a very small scale, fruit trees in pots can make good use of the available space to help you grow more food.

Planning for fruit production

Permaculture provides a useful structure for bringing all those ideas together. Any permaculture book is chock full of great design ideas.

Here are some of our favourite permaculture resources:

  • Introduction to Permaculture Masterclass – Beck Lowe
  • Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual – Bill Mollison
  • Permaculture: Principles & Pathways – David Holmgren
  • Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture – Rosemary Morrow
  • Edible Forest Gardens – Dave Jacke
  • The Permaculture Garden – Linda Woodrow
  • The Basics of Permaculture Design – Ross Mars

Learning about permaculture principles is always a good start because it will guide your thinking in all sorts of useful ways.

Doing a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) is one of the best ways to get a practical introduction to the topic. Plus, you’ll get a chance to try out your design skills by doing a design for your property!

This handy guide is a good starting point to find one near you. (And if you’re local to our farm, check out The Castlemaine Permaculture Hub.)

Permaculture has a lot to offer fruit tree growers. It’s one of the best tools we know to help you design a flourishing garden farm in your backyard.

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