Focus on access in your space
Column 2 in Home Grown, Weekend Magazine, Sunshine Coast Daily, by Zaia Kendall
We are on a farm in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. It is not a large farm, but we still walk a lot every day (which keeps us fit!). We have put a lot of thought into where we want to put things to have easy access, to minimise unnecessary travel in our space.
When designing for your space, you want to think about what you will need to look after or harvest daily, and what can go without care or harvesting for longer. Placement will depend on frequency. The more frequent you need something (or they need you), the closer it should be to your most common space (eg. the kitchen or the house in general). For example, if you grow herbs, lettuces and potatoes, you want the herbs closest to the kitchen, lettuces just a little further away and potatoes can be in an area not so often accessed. Herbs are used daily, lettuces are used frequently. These can be picked “as they grow”, with leaves regrowing after picking.
Potatoes can be put into the ground but apart from watering regularly, they do not need much maintenance. They only get harvested once (and then you can store them in a cool, dark space closer to the kitchen). So potatoes can be a bit further removed from the kitchen / house.
The same principle goes for animals. If you have chickens, you will want to place them close to the house as you will regularly access them to feed them, give them scraps and collect eggs. Larger grazing animals can be a bit further away from the house, depending on how often you want to interact with them.
Fruit trees only produce once or twice per year. They would be ideal on a verge, as a fence, on the balcony or in a pot in front of a window. They do not need to be close by, unless they are potted and need regular watering.
If you grow timber trees or have untouched forests, these can be the furthest from the house, as you will not access them much.
Think about your access. Which areas do you frequent most? In your movements within your space, what and where can you plant so it is looked after and harvested when ready? Think potted herbs on the kitchen bench, in a sunny spot or a small garden bed close to the kitchen. Lettuces in containers not too far away, and vegetables which are harvested occasionally a bit further again. Fruit and nut trees further still. Manage your animals based on the level of care they require. What can you put in your walkway or driveway, areas you frequent a lot? It will be easier to maintain something when you go past it on a regular basis.
Working cleverly with access needs to be part of your design to create a functional and resilient space.
Forum for questions: www.permeco.org/forums/