Learning exchanges at Murrnong range from two weeks, to six months, or longer. These days we prefer a minimum one month stay. Sometimes -quite often- there is a terrific group of people here with a great positive attitude who make the whole thing lots of fun. The experiences you have will vary depending on you, how long you stay, and of course on what is happening when you are here. Persistence can pay off, so although not every day will be exciting and some days might not even seem to be very educational, over time the range of experiences and skills and discussion can add up to a substantial learning experience.
Francesco Bacchetta stayed here from January 2015 to May 2016. In that time he gained experience with olive picking and grading, fruit picking and grading, care of egg laying chickens, vegetable growing and harvesting, food processing, meal preparation mostly from garden and farm ingredients, fruit tree pruning, orchard management including integrated pest management, irrigation and farm water management, bee keeping and honey extraction, vegetable garden bed preparation, compost management, tree planting, thinning and rejuvenation of tree and shrub shelter belts, small scale timber harvesting, construction of a solar cooker, small joinery repairs, preparation for workshops, ecological building for a small cabin, and worked at our farmers’ market stall. On some occasions Francesco ran the market stall. In addition to these general and varied farm tasks, Francesco took particular responsibility for the care and management of the milking goats, right through to making yoghurt and cheese.
All of these tasks included ongoing discussion about how and why we were doing the tasks that way, at that time, and seasonal considerations. His observations became progressively more sophisticated and well informed. During his time here he met many people, attended community events, visited other permaculture projects, contributed to a 10 day cob building workshop held here, completed our permaculture design course, and attended two days of a holistic management workshop. He says he learned more in his time here than he learned in four years studying biology at university (although, to be fair, he admits he could have studied harder!). All he has learned at Murrnong has been without spending money, or incurring student debt.
Francesco with Lena Rose, October 2015