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Eden's Refuge’s Background

Inspired by Creation

I (JD) grew up in the garden but it wasn't until 2014 that I started down the rabbit hole which has become my life focus. I was living on Loch Lomond Cattle Station in Queensland, Australia in the middle of a drought and was thinking that there had to be a better way to grow food than what I was seeing. During this time I learned about Permaculture and read through Bill Mollison's Designer's manual for the first time. 

Since then I have been watching nature and seeing what it does when left to its own and experimenting with replicating those patterns and systems in my own designs and life. 

I knew that any ideas of working a "regular" job were out the window so I spent a few years renovating an old house into an efficient duplex rental property to help secure my retirement so I can focus on doing work that I value so long as it covers my day-to-day needs. 

This rental property served as my garden experimenting space as well. I grew about 50 tomato plants, lot of herbs and greens, peas, beans, mushrooms, berries, and other fruits and veggies. This small in town lot also boasts 2 apple trees, a pear tree, a cherry tree, 3 plum trees, 3 hazelnut bushes, 7 paw paw trees, a multi-graft tree including peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots, plusnearly 100 rhubarb plants. My future tenants will benefit from this for decades to come and I get to collect cuttings and seeds for propagation.

In 2020 land prices skyrocketed and my dreams of buying my own land were put on hold so in 2022 I made an agreement with a timber-farmer to lease some of his land for 10 years and transition it to a food forest. This location is the next phase and the real launching point for my vision for Eden's Refuge.

This new property will be the home of the nursery. 2023 was a year of observation and healing from surgery so I'm just starting to get that property developed. Step 1 is getting some infrastructure that is urgently needed (housing, greenhouse, composting facilities, restoring the old well, and setting up electric fences to protect the rescue bees from bears).

Wild Berries

Eden's Refuge’s Future

Driven to Serve

Switching from 0.06 acres of growing space to a couple of acres changes so much. This land needs a lot of work to become what I want it to be as it's currently in an early stage of succession of turning back into a forest. 

The first phase of developing this land will be a nursery for fruit and nut trees, herbs, bushes, and garden annuals and two small passive solar greenhouses; one for me to live in and one for the nursery and growing some specialized crops. This phase involves getting a lot of infrastructure in place including buildings, water and electricity which are big expense items and I'll be looking to use reclaimed materials as much as possible. The first phase also includes a small garden for my personal use and running a few workshops.

The next phase starts in 2024 which is when trees start getting planted out both on this property and on other properties. I'm still finding landowners to partner with for the community/food bank forest gardens so please reach out if you are interested. Community groups and churches are great options because you have volunteers who can help harvest the food and deliver it to the food banks. Even if you only have space for a handful of trees or bushes we may be able to make something work!

Phase 2 is also when I'll be able to start using plants from my own nursery for implementing some of the permaculture designs that I have done and will do for other properties and this will be a time for experimenting for additional small scale passive solar greenhouse designs.

The long term goal is to buy land where I can continue to grow; where I can build my own home; and where I can put down my own permanent roots with my own forest gardens. This will be a space for running classes; for growing food to eat, to sell, and to donate; and for building up community.

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