Oudeberg Permaculture Farm
Oudeberg Permaculture Farm is located in the Ouberg Mountains 20 km outside Montagu in the Klien Karoo. The farm is located in a Montaine Fynbos Biome and has a Mediterranean Climate, with dry hot summers and cool wet winters. The temperatures are relatively moderate and thankfully the area does not experience heavy frost in winter, allowing a wider diversity of plants to be grown. The Farm encompasses the entire watershed above it and has been organic for the last 8 years so no toxins flow into the farm from above. The average annual rainfall is in the region of 450mm which combined with the keypoint location of the farm has resulted in good water sources. There are 4 springs on the farm and 7 strong boreholes with a perennial stream flowing off the mountain flowing through production areas of the farm. A government road runs through the farm ensuring easy access.
Vision and Holistic Context
The farm is a 900 hectare ex-livestock operation that is undergoing transformation into a full 5 Zone Commercial Permaculture Farm since September 2014. It is one of the sites in the Love Green Permaculture Project, run by Larissa Green and Kent Tahir Cooper as a collective of permaculture production, education sites that they are establishing as best practice in permaculture design across a range of contexts. Please see our website lovegreenpermaculture for details.
Tahir and Larissa have been making rapid progress in implementing the mainframe design pattern which is integrated into the primary valleys that run off the main ridge of the Ouberg. There are 7 hectares of valley terraces that have been swaled and contour ripped to set the framework for a agroecological regenerative approach to transforming the existing lucerne production into a diverse tree based production system focusing on main crops such as Nuts, Olives, Medicinal Plants, Super Foods, Bio-oils, Lucerne, Pasture, etc…
Oudeberg Zone 1 Kitchen garden going into its 3rd month… The house retrofit with compost toilet were the first focus… Always start at your doorstep…
Excavating the Region’s first Swales
Regenerative Land Use Patterning for Tree based Production using Keyline Pattern of Cultivation combined with Swales
Regenerative Water Harvesting Earthworks in place on Lucerne Fields which will now be transformed into a Agroecological Production System based on Psitachio Nuts and large Production Trees along Swales.
Large Swales and Keyline Pattern of Cultivation Ripping on Retrofitted Lucerne Fields
We are in the midst of harvesting and baling our lucerne as the season is in full swing and we cut or graze each terrace every 4 weeks… The swales are fully colonised by lucerne & white clover now, which we leave flowering so the bees have something in the interim and all the little creatures have a refuge while the lucerne is regrowing… Lucerne cut, raked & ready to bale… Our aim in the long run is in the region of 30 tons of lucerne a hectare a year, which is possible with good management and sound ecological infrastructure…
Old eroded fields have been restored using swales and contour ripping and there is ongoing renovation of buildings to retrofit them into a regenerative pattern, that harvests rainwater, solar energy for electricity and heating water, with all grey water recycled. Compost toilets have replaced flush toilets and septic tanks and Zone 1 & 2 production systems are the current focus.
Oudeberg Homestead and the site for Zone 1 and 2 Implementation
The Zone 1 vege garden on a lower terrace system in Zone 1 is now going into its 4th month. The dry hot summers are ideal for growing vegetables as the gardens are east facing with trees and a big ridge protecting the plants from the hot western sun in the afternoon. We are having a bumper harvest of apricots, most of which are been dried with the kitchen so busy as Larissa makes yummy chutneys and preserves to tide us through the year…We have plums, almonds, apples, pear, quince and olives on the horizon. It is going to be a bumper season…
The dry hot summers are ideal for growing vegetables as the gardens are east facing with trees and a big ridge protecting the plants from the hot western sun in the afternoon.
This year we plan to reintroduce Nguni Cattle now that the infrastructure is better suited to their management as well as pot bellied pigs with chicken in electric netting rotation camps to manage the fruit trees in the systems. There is much work to be done in converting conventional orchards into diverse food forest systems and the hundreds of Olive Trees need TLC to get them more productive. Tree Lucerne has been planted on many of the large swales on the farm with a nursery planned to propagate many of the plant requirements of the establishment of the systems.
Our Nguni Stud herd helps us manage the lucerne fields in a rotation system using electric fencing. They also provide dung for the systems, veld management and eventually milk for dairy…
The long-term vision is to establish a small training center on the farm from which to run Permaculture Design Courses, an Permaculture Internship Program, Permaculture and Regenerative Lifestyle Retreats, etc. We are about to open our volunteer program whereby people exchange their energy and skills for a place to stay and a educational experience in living and working on a permaculture farm.
VOLUNTERNSHIP AT OUDEBERG
Love Green Permaculture runs a Voluntership Program at Oudeberg Farm. This is an education and training program whereby the volunteer comes to the farm for a stipulated period of time to learn about permaculture and regenerative farming through practical experience. The volunteer will be integrated into the running and development of the farm as a team member experiencing whatever processes and projects that are running at the time of their visit. The work program will be supplemented by research, reading and multi-media learning, which they are required to do in after work in order to develop a good conceptual understanding of the work they are doing. If the volunteer shows competence in the range of activities involved in they will be certified as practically competent in the relevant fields. These skill and knowledge modules can be accumulated towards an applied permaculture certificate. There are no limits to the modules as permaculture is unlimited in its scope and is only bound by the laws of ecotropy and human ingenuity…
Volunteering at Oudeberg Permaculture Farm is a diverse experience in life and work on a busy commercial permaculture venture. We are only interested in people who have a sincere wish to learn about permaculture and work hard on the range of projects that we and our staff are currently running. The outdoor life is vigorous and lots of fun with the various projects on the cutting edge of permaculture design and implementation. Depending on the length of your stay you will initially work under supervision and as your competence, responsibility and experience with our systems grows you will be given more autonomy in your working days and hopefully be able to drive some of the projects we are running. Volunteers will be given a volunternship certificate at the end of your stay detailing activities you were competent in.
Our excellent volunteer and PDC graduate PJ brings more windfall apricots to feed to the pigs…
Current Projects are:
- Cultivating Zone 1 food gardens
- Establishing Zone 2 Food Forests & Main Crop Systems
- Managing irrigation systems across the farm
- Compost toilet construction
- Building renovation
- Nursery construction
- Plant propagation
- Olive orchard regeneration
- Small animal systems establishment in the form of chicken tractors and converting a trailer into a mobile pig and chicken house.
- River training using gabions
- Harvesting and processing fruit
- Composting and worm farm management
- Grey water systems implementation
- Swale digging in Zone 1
- Lucerne field management
- Water infrastructure development
We expect volunteers to work where needed in the farm context, sometimes with us and our staff and sometimes on your own. In return you will be housed in a comfortable dwelling, have access to internet and be provided with basic foods. The farm is strictly vegetarian and no alcohol is allow on the premises.
- Take responsibility for yourself and your possessions.
- No alcohol or meat on the farm.
- Dwellings will be kept neat and tidy at all times and messy living patterns are not accepted as you will be sharing space with other people.
- All tensions to be resolved peacefully via open communication.
- No shoes in any of the buildings
- No filter cigarettes on the farm, only roll your own tobacco.
- Smoking is only allowed outside and away from buildings.
- No dogs or any pets allowed.
- Respectful interaction with all people on the farm.
- No removing of vegetation, rocks, insects or animals on the farm.
- Be on time for all work and appointments.
- No GMO’s and highly processed foods allowed on the farm.
- No synthetic chemicals allowed on the farm, all toiletries and personal care products must be organic. If you do not have your own we will provide shampoo, body wash and will put your clothes through our washing machine once a week.
The farm Zone 1 gardens always have a variety of veges and the Zone 2 systems some fruit (season specific) and we provide some dried fruit and homemade condiments to volunteers. Like all natural systems, gardens and harvests are always in flux so what is coming out of the systems is what is available…
Who can volunteer.
You must be over the age of 21 years unless special testimonial is given by people known to us. You will need to have some working knowledge of permaculture and be prepared to work physically. We structure our working day so that work activities are appropriate to temperatures and time of day.
Vegetarian Food Stuffs Provided
We provide healthy and mainly organic basic foods such as staple veges & fruit (potato, squash, onion, local fruits, etc), whatever veges and fruit are ready from the gardens, organic grains & pulses, sugar, tea, milk, peanut butter, bread, eggs, seasoning, organic oats, homemade condiments, herbs from the gardens, salads from the gardens, olive oil.
Luxuries (coffee, dairy other than milk, special breads, tropical fruit, etc) and anything else you will have to provide yourself. There are regular trips into town and Montagu is a well stocked. There is a juicer in the kitchen and the gardens have plenty of leaf veges & beetroot for juicing.
What to Bring
The farm has a pool fed by crystal spring water for swimming, amazing hiking and walking opportunities, it exists in a stunning natural location of hills, valleys and mountains, all covered in pristine Fynbos and Succulents. When you are not working exploring and outdoor activities are the obvious attraction with excellent cycling in the area. The area is safe with no crime been far away from any settlement, town is 20 km away and our nearest resident neighbour is 7km away. The place is very peaceful and quiet and volunteering here suits people who like the quiet life…When working we expect people to be safely attired, so that means with solid shoes, and in some cases gloves. We suggest the following to make your stay an enjoyable one…
- Sun hat
- Long cotton clothes to keep the sun off your body.
- If using sun cream it will have to be organic.
- Good walking shoes.
- Slip on sandals for operating around the homestead.
- Warm clothing for night time.
- Rain protection.
- Laptop if you want to access internet
- Work Gloves
- Swimming gear
- We provide organic hair, bodywash and toothpaste, any other toiletries will have to provided by yourself and be organic.
If you wish to volunteer, please drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you an application form to fill in so we can review your request.