Healthy soil is key for this productive Tasmanian micro-farm | Gardening Australia

Healthy soil is key for this productive Tasmanian micro-farm | Gardening Australia

A microfarm that’s micro by name only, James Hutchinson’s small scale farm supplies loads of quality produce to Hobart’s booming foodie culture.
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The farm sits on the river flats below Kunanyi (Mt Wellington) in Tasmania.

James says microfarming differs to regular farming mainly due to being more intensive over a smaller area.
For this reason, James focuses a lot of his attention on keep the soil healthy to maximize the nutrients and production of the land, where he produces a wide range of food for local families and restaurants – up to 150 different crops a year. The soil is not tilled below 15cm, to preserve the soil structure.

It also means he can plants crops a bit more closely together than you normally would, and he often interplants a fast-growing crop – radishes for example – between rows of slower-growing plants. The radishes will be long gone (after about 27 days) by the time the slower crop such as beetroot need more space.

Standardised beds have been the key to the economic success of the system. James says: “On the farm are 120 permanent beds, all 15m long, 750mm wide with 450mm paths in between beds.
“Half of the beds are dedicated heavy feeders such as zuchinnis, tomatoes, and corn that want a lot of active live compost. The other half are for lighter feeders such as legumes, kales, lettuces and radishes where we get 3-4 crops in a season. We rotate the beds each season between heavy feeding crops and lighter feeding crops. We also rotate the lighter-feeding crops within the beds four times each season.”

The work closely with chefs to produce specific crops.
Oskar Rossi from Fico restaurant says one of the reasons they chose to open in Hobart was the access to smaller producers such as James.

“It’s regenerative farming. I work with an agronomist (soil specialist) to regularly assess what my soil needs.” High-quality compost is a huge part of the system but another organic addition that James makes on the farm and adds to the soil is biochar. He inoculates it with microorganisms such as beneficial bacteria and fungi. This holds oxygen, moisture and bonds to other elements; he calls it a “soil scaffold”.

Featured plants:
Radish ‘French Breakfast’ (Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus cv.)

Owner: James Hutchinson

Location: Palawa Country in Hobart, Tas

Climate Zone: Cool temperate

Garden established: 2000

Style: small-scale bio-intensive, organic farm

Key Features: 11 acres (4.45ha) market garden; 1 acre grows blueberries and 1 acre is used for the microfarm.

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13 Comments

  1. Anish Aditya on May 27, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    luv u Australia…

  2. RED CHUNGUS on May 27, 2022 at 8:31 pm

    This is so so so awesome

  3. Got a Green Gardening on May 27, 2022 at 8:32 pm

    Love it! Big support from Melbourne 🙂

  4. Alison Borchers on May 27, 2022 at 8:32 pm

    If you’re really concerned about soil life and structure, quit broadforking. It does more damage than you realise, as well as cost you harvest volume.

  5. pierrejfranklin on May 27, 2022 at 8:35 pm

    Love it costa

  6. Mike Papa on May 27, 2022 at 8:46 pm

    Mate! wearing a kiwi t shirt, Jodi will be proud

  7. Grafting Tactick on May 27, 2022 at 8:55 pm

    My dream is ro have a micro farm like this, Thanks for sharing 👍

  8. Kyle I on May 27, 2022 at 8:59 pm

    Absolutely amazing work, not only with this beautiful micro farm! But also the fact you support locals.

    I think it’s becoming as important as ever to start growing our own food and assisting families in need.

  9. Gemma Mengote on May 27, 2022 at 8:59 pm

    Thank you for the video, watching from the Philippines

  10. Made For It Farm on May 27, 2022 at 9:05 pm

    Great little set up.

  11. Chop Beard on May 27, 2022 at 9:14 pm

    Top job James, I love your work.

  12. Sharon P. on May 27, 2022 at 9:18 pm

    Love this! I live in Maine USA and was pleased to see the Johnny’s Seeds hat! 🙂

  13. ButtWiser on May 27, 2022 at 9:20 pm

    Me loves it!

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