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 400mm which combined with the keypoint location of the farm has resulted in good water sources. There are many springs on the farm and 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.

Context

The farm is a 600-hectare ex-livestock operation that is undergoing transformation into a full 5 Zone Commercial Permaculture Farm since September 2014.

Kent Tahir Cooper and Larissa Green have been making fast 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 an agroecological regenerative approach to transforming the existing lucerne production into a diverse tree-based production system focusing on main crops such as Nuts, Citrus, Pome and Stone Fruits, Olives, Medicinal Plants, Super Foods, Bio-oils, Lucerne, Pasture, etc…

Livestock plays a vital role in building soil fertility and managing vegetation health in dryland ecosystems and we have Nguni and Dexter Cattle managing our Agroforestry systems and veld, with smaller animals such as pigs and poultry integrated into the inner homesteading zones. For many years we ran Awassi Dairy sheep in the Agroforestry systems, which we have now replaced with Dexter Cattle for milk.

The Homestead is surrounded by highly diverse Food Forests, Vegetable and Main Crop production systems, nurseries, workshops, a classroom and accommodation for students and visitors to the project.

The surrounding veld is managed by Cattle in rotation grazing through the seasons.

Oudeberg Zone 1 Kitchen garden produces most of our greens and picking vegetables that do are not suseptable to bird attack.

Chicken Tractors play a major role in managing pests and building soils in vegetable production systems and Food Forests.

Our herd of stud cattle manages the surrounding veld recovery, keep the pasture soils regenerating and provide large volumes of manure for composting. We have Stud Nguni which we breed to sell to farms wishing to upgrade their herd genetics. Our herd comes from top Nguni breeders Tafesig Nguni.

The farm produces a wide diversity of vegetables from its Zone 1 annual production systems. High seasonality means summer and winter vegetable ecosystems are vastly different.

Regenerative Water Harvesting Earthworks in place in Agroforestry system of Fig, Apple, Olive, Pomegranate and mixed Lucerne/fodder grass pasture.

Contour based Agroforestry, with Almond and Pomegranate on Retrofitted Lucerne Fields

Pasture within Agroforestry is managed by livestock in electric fenced rotation/mob-grazing patterning.

The farm is rich in food forests of a wide diversity of functions and ages. These produce tons of citrus, apricot, fig, almond, apple, pear, plum, prunes, persimmon, cherry, pomegranate, loquat, olive and more. The entire homestead zone is nested in food forest systems.

A previousl heavily eroded area restored and swaled, full of water that would previously eroded the area further. These swales to infiltrate run-off from farm roads and upslope to prevent erosion and hydrate the land and begin the process of restoring the water and mineral cycle to support timber systems.

The farm is blessed with water from a variety of sources. We have a few periodic streams that source and flow through the farm, dotted with strong springs. We have build sand dams along the river courses where appropriate to harvest and store water in the earth to feed production system on the stream banks. The farm has strong boreholes and has a comprehensive swale, regenerative water harvesting earthwork system that infiltrates rainfall into the earth supporting the ground water table and vegetation. The farm is completely drought proof as a result.

The Farm is completely self-reliant in lucerne for bailing, which we use for feeding livestock in winter, mulch, compost, etc. We also graze our livestock directly on the lucerne pasture, which we rotate between grazing and baling.

Our farm is completely off-grid. All buildings and processing infrastructures are solar powered for heating water and generating electricity. We use compost toilets and domestic water is recycled into grey water systems. Designs are climate appropriate and vegetation is used to make mediate the climate.

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 Zones 1, 2 and 3 surrounded by Zone 5

Mobile electric fenced poultry tractor preparing land in young food forest.

Our vegetable production system consists of a kitchen garden at the house and a main crop garden along the river below the house. Some of this garden is netted to protect it from birds that eat many of the vegetables we grow. This netted structure also helps to create a micro-climate within the structure.

We dry plenty of fruit and vegetables. Much of our surplus produce is either frozen or dried. Living in the Karoo means drying food is easy and it is a simple and low energy form of storing food for later use.

The Herd

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 we sell the progeny as stud animals for farmers to add to their breeding program.

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