From her backyard in Stanwell Tops, Tara and her 7 chickens produce enough eggs and vegetables to feed her family of five, and she wants to show you how to do the same.
Tara ditched her 10-year career in advertising to realise her dream of sustainable living. Starting out with a micro-bakery in Stanwell Park, Tara has recently opened ‘Mill Lane’, where she’ll run courses to share her secrets to a successful vegie garden, baking amazing breads and pastry classes.
“Growing up, my family grew it’s own food, so I just started doing the same,” says Tara. “Now, we survive on fresh, organic, seasonal fruit and veg. And I love that I can live life this way in the Northern Illawarra. There is growing interest in becoming as self-sufficient as possible and it’s great to be a part of it.”
Tara says it’s taken almost three years to reach her level of self-sufficiency, and it’s not always easy. “Everything good takes work,” she says, “But it’s worthwhile. I probably spend between eight and 12 hours a week in the garden, sometimes at night with a head-torch, once the kids are in bed!”
The family’s seven chickens are an integral part of the sustainable backyard. “We recently calculated the cost of the chickens. We added the cost of building the coop with the cost of feed, then deducted what we get back, and we estimate we paid off all the outgoings within six months.
“The chickens help keep pests out of the vegie garden, they provide the manure we use to fertilise, plus they give us eggs.”
Tara says her permaculture courses are based on her own experience, but draw on the expertise of Narelle Happ, who is a qualified permaculture teacher. “Plus”, she says,”everything we eat throughout the course comes from my vegie garden!”
And people with tiny yards need not despair. Tara says anyone can have their own veggie garden, regardless of space. “There are vertical options, options for people with balconies, right up to no-dig gardens with raised beds. We just help you design a vegie garden that works for you, then tell you what to plant, when to plant and how to manage it.”
Mill Lane also runs courses on bread-making using pre-ferments, and pastry classes too. All classes are held at Glenbernie Orchards Darkes Forest and you can find out more at www.milllaneworkshops.com