Crowd funding the orchard, a new way of planning and more thanks than I can articulate.

Less than a week ago I got fired up about getting Lantanaland's orchard up and running after seeing a fantastic mature kiwi fruit trellis up the top of Mt Tambourine. I jokingly suggested that I should get a Kickstarter going. (For those who don't know what Kickstarter is, it is a way of funding tech or arts projects in the US. Sometimes you get something back, an album or the designed object, but mostly you do it to support the idea or innovation.) Twitter buddy @lukebunyip suggested that I should try Pozible, the oz equivalent. At first I felt a little hesitant to ask people to help out but that is the brilliance of crowd funding, you only help if you want to.

It turns out the thought of Lantanaland having a full orchard up and running was something people were willing to support. I set a target I thought was realistic in 30 days, $700. That would allow me to plant out about half the orchard and put in drip irrigation, to ensure the best chance of good growth and survival. To my complete surprise, delight and eternal gratitude, I have reached that in three days. Any extra sponsors from here on in are just extra trees that I can plant. I cannot thank the people that chipped in enough and your names will be part of Lantanaland history forever, deeply carved into the wood of the kiwi fruit trellis entrance.

It does raise a situation I have never encountered before though. Lantanaland has always grown in drips and drabs and hard work. The biggest single day was the fence lines hard cut out of the lantana when we first got the cows. The orchard though, can be planned as one full project. I can plot out where to put trees and access points and think about how to walk through it, how the chooks will be housed in it to keep down weeds and pests, where to put the entrances. Once it is all planned then I get stuck in. I will be planting in old car tires to raise it up off the hard clay soil, so i'll move them around until I find a nice pattern.

The orchard will be on the steep hill behind the house. It is a weedy pain at the moment. Too steep and rough to mow it is fenced off with electric and the cow gets chucked in there every now and then to keep the grass down. The first thing I will do is slash the weeds down and arrange the tires where I think will be good spots, considering sunlight and canopy size. Once I'm happy with that I will lay out some drip irrigation. With a heap of trees to keep happy I want to make sure that they are all getting adequate water, especially with a summer like the one we just had, with two months of very hot dry weather. Then I will dig all the holes and mulch around the tires so that I can plant all the trees in one day. Next job will to build the grape and kiwi fruit trellis. The kiwi fruit trellis will double as the entrance to the orchard and a monument to all my sponsors, so it will be big and strong, something to last forever. I'm thinking that the grape vine will run along the boundary line and double as a fence to keep the chooks in as I hope to fully fence the orchard so that I can run chooks or ducks in there as orchard staff, fertilising and doing pest control.

Once all the infrastructure is in, I can order the plants! The rough list I have sketched out is macadamia,plum (gulfgold), muscadine grapes, pine nut, grumichama black and red, kiwifruit, lychee, mango bowen or r2e2, pear, nashi, apple tropic and dorsett, olive, peach florda plus maybe another lemon and lime.

Lantanaland at its heart is about food, that's why I have dairy cows and not horses, chooks and geese not budgies. The extraordinary generosity of people has made sure that the Lantanaland kitchen will be full of fresh fruit and jams and chutneys and relishes and pies and other goodies and I fully intend to pay back those people with the bounty of these trees for many, many years to come. For those interested in the project they can check it out here

Crowdfunding the orchard - ABC interview

Growing up on a farm. With promite sandwiches.