Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mid Mountains Open Forest Gardens Day in review

by Kris Cervelle

At the end of November, with the support of Slow Food BM, we held the inaugural  

‘Food Forest’ Open Day in the the Mid-Mountains.  

Six gardens took part (including the Mid-Mountains Community Garden) - some following ‘pure’ permaculture methodology, others following the general principles.

Between 30 to around 60 people visited each garden.  Given that it was a bright, hot day, we were very pleased with this 

turn-out, and a good time seemed to be had by all.  One of the Open Gardeners commented:

I had a steady stream of people visiting all day, and even the neighbourhood diamond python came out to show off in the morning :-).  

Even more impressive was the fact that most visitors did not simply wander quickly ‘round the gardens;  almost all were keen to get the ‘guided tour’, ask questions, find sources for materials and plants, etc.  Some were ‘yet-to-begin’ gardeners, looking for some pointers on where to start;  others were seeking inspiration for designing their productive garden or extending what they had.

Participants said:

Congratulations on the superb Food Forest Open Day in our mid mountains. Thanks and congrats to all our wonderful garden hosts.  Just brilliantly diverse gardens and so many ideas and tips to bring back home. Loved the raspberries at “Tarraleah”.

It was great to see the different approaches employed across a range of well-organised productive gardens.  I came away with many ideas to help me set up my own garden, especially around setting up raised beds, constructing soft surface paths, and protecting produce from birds and other pests.  All the display gardeners were very generous with their advice and are to be commended on their fantastic bountiful gardens.

Thank you for the first 'Food Forest’ Open Day.  It was just fabulous.  I didn't get to all the gardens, but was blown away by the productivity in each.

Since hearing about the food forest open day I had great expectations of seeing gardens of Eden and learning how to grow anything. My dreams were partly realised as, within just a few kilometres of each other, the six gardens exhibit  features of permaculture and intelligent design;  optimising climate niches, soil types and the unique character of their creators. I still don't know how to graft a plum tree, but I did score some great jam, and I know who to ask. Looking forward to next year.


There seems to be some enthusiasm for holding a ‘ Food Forest' Open Day on an annual basis. In 2015 we may focus on productive gardens in the Lower Mountains - so if you have a productive garden (or know someone else who does) around Faulconbridge/Springwood/Warrimoo way and would be interested in participating, please get in touch with Kris (;  0458 626210).  The following year, we might go to the Upper Mountains;  then perhaps back to Mid-Mountains, or to Glenbrook/Blaxland area;  so that eventually we cover the whole Mountains, and visitors can get to see the progress in the gardens on their return.

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We can harvest a wide range of fruits and nuts locally each season.

Local fruit and/or nut gardeners are invited to make additions or suggest modifications to the following work-in-progress compiled by Lizzie Connor.


Across the mountains: loquat, mulberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late spring) raspberry

Best in the lower mountains: avocado, jaboticaba, lemonade


Across the mountains: apricot, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, currant (red, black, white), gooseberry, kumquat, loganberry, loquat, mulberry,nectarine, peach, plum, raspberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late summer) almond, apple, fig, hazelnut, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), pomegranate, youngberry

Best in lower mountains:lemon (Eureka), lemonade, lime, mandarin, orange, persimmon (non-astringent) and (in late summer) avocado, babaco, macadamia, rockmelon, wampee, watermelon

Best in upper mountains: jostaberry, lemon (Meyer), persimmon (astringent)


Across the mountains: almond, apple, chestnut, feijoa, fig, grape, hazel, kiwi fruit, kumquat, medlar, olive, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), plum, quince, raspberry (some), rhubarb, strawberry, strawberry guava, walnut

Best in lower mountains: avocado, babaco, cherimoya, grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), macademia, monstera deliciosa, orange, pine nut, pistachio, rockmelon, tamarillo, walnut, watermelon, white sapote

Best in upper mountains: lemon (Meyer), mandarin (Satsuma)


Across the mountains: apple, hazelnut, kiwi fruit, kumquat, pear (incl. nashi)

Best in lower mountains: grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), orange, tangelo

Best in upper mountains: avocado (Bacon), lemon (Meyer)