Sunday, February 14, 2010

Building paradise

Everyone dreams of paradise. More to the point, I think everyone dreams about arriving there. I'm certainly no different. Whenever I visit a permaculture garden on acreage - you know the type - dripping with foliage, water and productive plants - I always end up wishing it belonged to me. If only I lived there to enjoy "that" paradise, oh the things I could do!

My dusty five acres, in comparison, seems rather lifeless. Sure I have recent fruit trees in the ground, chicken coops and the potential for more development - but it's not paradise. It doesn't look or feel anything near it - yet.

And that's really the silly game we play with ourselves about the concept of paradise. It's something other people (or nature) does for us, while we just magically arrive there. The truth is paradise can rarely be afforded by common folk. You either buy it by the million, inherit it from a wealthy relative, visit it, or - you build it from scratch.

Which happened to be the only option we could afford at the time too. This particular block of land was nothing flash. The fact it was five acres, located near a rural city, was probably its most sellable asset. Otherwise, it had two slopes that converged right in the middle - where all the storm water ran through. We could take our pick of house sites - the north facing slope or the south facing slope. The only flat land was the sand pit in the middle!

Our sandpit, or stormwater run-off area

So it seemed our paradise was to be riddled with 30 metre native eucalyptus trees too, lantana thickets, clay-loam type soil which eroded in enormous caverns in any disturbed soil - not to mention the water repelling ability of the soil, not to retain any moisture. We bought into all this rather naively too. All we had to do is build walls, plant plants and use any earth-moving equipment required. Oh yes, and the little thing about water - didn't that just fall from the sky?

Needless to say, our pursuit to find paradise by building it around us, came at the expense of those original (idealistic) beliefs. They had to go! There was much more to it than that. Oh so MUCH more.

The reality is, we haven't stopped working from the day we first bought the land in 2005, until this year, 2010. Five years in total. We've moved dirt - ate dirt - got bogged in mud after the dirt got wet, and still the dirt persisted at teasing our personal thoughts of paradise. Are we deprived? Hardly. But it's certainly a long way awaaaay from the kind of paradise we first imagined.

Our wall, still resembling a dirt mound

For's a lot harder to believe it's paradise when the ground is parched, the plants won't grow and your back hurts from all the physical labour. But this to me is where my pioneering spirit takes flight. God isn't making any more land, as far as I know, so it's up to me to help rejuvenate paradise to what it used to be.

It may only be a small dream and I may not see anything but dirt for a long time to come. But one should never be accustomed to arriving at paradise. For that generally leads to idealistic opportunism. You can believe what you want, if you've never been tested in paradise.

No matter how much you believe your patch isn't as nice as "paradise", or it's too much hard work, just remember that any labour of love going into growing things, reaps more rewards than the initial effort. It will feed you, shade you, comfort and build you up in years to come - probably when you most need it too.

If you don't build it though...

A day full of dirt (in my books) is a day well spent in paradise. :)


  1. True True True.

    I love your 'sandpit' area. Looks like a bizarre interview set-up LOL!

  2. So true! We're not in a position to buy our 'paradise' yet, so for now what we have will have to do.

  3. Hi mountainwildlife & Fluffymuppet. *waves*

    I hope when you do find yourselves in a position to buy FM, that it's a wonderful adventure filled with as many twists and turns as you can manage. It's what makes it so memorable afterwards, LOL.

    In the meantime, what you have sounds just as good. :) Thanks for dropping in from the UK.

    An interview set-up - now that sounds like a good idea MW. We tend to sit there and interrogate the garden now, especially the lantana, LOL. We tell them their days are numbered, and it will soon mean compost. ;)

    I hope your building plans are going well too. Not long now hopefully. :)

  4. I love the look of your land but understand the hard work that you have to do in order to achieve your goals. What your post brought to my mind was another blog post that I read recently, written by a local American Midwest farmer, who has been purposely planting a garden of Edan, all fruit trees and shrubs, just for his own enjoyment. He was calling it his paradise already because he was so involved in the process.

  5. That's a great attitude to have by the Midwest farmer you mention. It certainly helps the process along, so you get to enjoy the hard work too. :)

  6. Well, he enjoys the hard work. He is a commercial farmer and a seed breeder and so his project will be all heritage things. Who wouldn't enjoy that? In fact he has inspired us to start our own Garden of Eden.

  7. I wish you well on your journey towards planting Eden. :)

    Personally, I can't wait for more photos on your blog about your property. I'm sure you've heard it all before, but you have the best darn farmhouse kitchen sink, I've ever seen!


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