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April Autumn loveliness on the farm.

What a growing season!  

Not too hot, not too windy. Scattered, regular rain now.. rather than torrential. Babbling creek, birds a’tweeting, butterflies and dragonflies fluttering about. Welcome autumn life!

With La Nina conditions bringing an outrageous amount of rain to the Northern Rivers these past few months, we arrive at the end of April with fingers crossed that that period is coming to an end.

We are most grateful that we aren’t on flooded land. Up high on a plateau; our roastery, sheds and family homes are safe from rising waters. We really are just .. soggy. 

With our landscape facing north, the coffee trees are planted in rows heading quite gently down to the flatter land meeting Skinners Creek. As we nurture ground covers and smother grasses, native grasses, legumes and clover, the land we look after has not suffered from erosion. This is really important. As farmers we want our rich red soil in place – not in or by the creek. This could easily have happened without ground covers, with the amount of rain we have had.  Over 2.5 m fell in 3 months here. Truly unprecedented, as far as records show.

The springs that feed the creek have been bubbling up, closer than ever to the coffee trees. We won’t be mowing down there for a while… and are lucky that there is no need to harvest coffee till October. We just have to delay driving any tractor down the rows while the ground is so waterlogged and soft. A cost of so much rain is that we cant put out  any compost or biological feeds such as our  seaweed or fish hydrolysates for a while. Rain and sunshine and nature’s inputs only!

The rainforest gullies and regenerated rainforest riparian zone along Skinners Creek headwaters are flush with new growth, and vibrant with all manner of wildlife. You should hear and see the birdlife and the creek running! Uplifting sight and sounds indeed on an afternoon walk. 

Oh yes – the coffee trees are enlivened and are looking quite lush now too! Thankyou rain. With healthy new growth, we expect they are all the stronger, resilient for any dry season that may come through winter, ready for good spring flower setting later in the year. 

Cover Crops

We extended the summer cover crop plantings in November across more rows of the farm. Boy did they grow! With almost daily rain, the plants took off and up, attracting birds, bees, butterflies, dragonflies, lady beetles .. all manner of life! The real action is the growth and life enhancement we can’t see below the soil, with all the root matter and biodiversity facilitating nutrient transfer and soil life down there. Everywhere I dig, the worms are in abundance. Surely a good sign of soil life!

We are still experimenting with our seed mix, for our cover crops, learning as we go. I don’t think we will be planting the climbing legumes again over summer – as with all the rain, the cow pea and lab lab enthusiastically headed up into the coffee trees with the current spacing between our coffee rows.

Image: Rebecca untangling the climbing legumes of cow pea and lab lab from the sorghum with yellow flowering sunn hemp showing off as a 2m + high legume. 

Image: Buckwheat is quick to flower, attracts beneficial insects and enhances soil fertility. Clovers, chicory and raddish are planted below.

Some of the rows have been mowed in now, returning their nutrient store, carbon and biomass for the good of our soil life below. 

By mid-May, the Autumn-Winter cover crops will be seeded in as soon as we feel we can do so without getting bogged at the bottom of the rows. I’ll report on that in the next farm blog. 

Meanwhile, the bees are recovering well after really too much rain. It’s always a delight to see them either at ’their homes’ or out amongst the blossoms wherever they find them on our farm and amongst the rainforest, shrubbery and food gardens.

Chooks are always happy with fresh hemp seed mulch, so we bring you this pic just for joy! The rest of the hemp seed husk goes out to the developing compost piles, starting the nutrient cycles again for our coffee crop. 

 Life enhancing, soil enhancing, wildlife welcoming, farming with nature. 

There is always much to do, and it is definitely hard to make a living out of farming – but a good life indeed here at our coffee farm. 

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  193 Broken Head Rd, Newrybar NSW 2479 

  CALL: 02 6687 2045

  PARKING: Parking available with disabled access.

  OPENMonday to Friday – 8am to 4pm

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Zentveld’s Coffee Farm and Roastery acknowledges the traditional custodians of the Bundjalung Nation. We pay respect to the Arakwal people and recognise their continuing connection to land, sea and waters. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future.

Zentveld’s Coffee Farm and Roastery acknowledges the traditional custodians of the Bundjalung Nation. We pay respect to the Arakwal people and recognise their continuing connection to land, sea and waters. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future.

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