9 Oct 2015


From Country Life, 9:29 pm on 9 October 2015

Motivated by the converging problems of environmental degradation, over population, peak oil and climate change, Olmec and Melisa Sinclair (above) have spent several years developing a block of land that focuses on resilient solutions for food production, shelter, energy and water.

The long, thin peninsula shaped property sits between the road and a 30 metre high cliff up the Leader Valley in North Canterbury. At the bottom of the cliff a bushy gully hides a fast flowing river. In the distance Mount Parnassus has greened up after some welcomed rain in what has been an extremely dry year.

The land, which was once a series of overgrown paddocks, has been transformed into a permaculture food forest. A diverse range of trees, shrubs and vegetables are continually being fertilised by ducks, chickens and pigs to form a well-balanced and productive ecosystem.

Olmec and Melisa have implemented solutions for capturing rainwater and runoff. This helps build soil, nourish crops, prevent erosion, minimise drought and reduce or eliminate irrigation needs. They use swales and terraces to halt the flow of water and nutrient off the land and allow it infiltrate and hydrate the soil.

Olmec says: “Swales are a ditch on contour that traps water so the swales at the top of the landscape fill up with water first and over the next day or so, depending on how much rain you’ve had, that water passes through the land and you’ll see it filling up the swales down the slope over time”.