Jodie Eden grew up in Herberton working on her family tin mine, working in many jobs including nurseries, where she learned plant propagation before she studied an Environmental Science degree.
She's ‘done it tough’ living 6 years in the remote bush without the usual ‘mod cons’ and I had struggled to grow her own food for over 25 years. She believes in living the Good Life – eating delicious, varied food while having a low impact on the earth and she is passionate about living sustainably but practically.
Jodie's parents were primary producers who believed they had a responsibility to rehabilitate the environment following their particularly destructive form of alluvial tin mining.
So, she grew up seeing what ‘sustainable development’ might mean - using both brains and hands to make a living. She believes it is possible to produce the goods we need to live while looking after the planet.
Her dad used to say “Bloody Greenies! They should be out working as miners, foresters and farmers not just complaining about how the rest of us do it. Everyone uses metal, timber and food so we need people who can produce these things without making a mess”.
Jodie studied Environmental Science and is now a Community Education Ranger, never loosing her interest in practical sustainability. She asks 'How can we work the land to make a living without making a mess?"
She spent a chunk of her years as a hippy drop-out which made her realise that she loves many aspects of modern technology (freezer, washing machine, telephone, modern medicine) and also discovered that true ‘Self Sufficiency’ is a slightly foolish aspiration since it takes a lifetime to get really good at anything. "We are such social animals, why not happily trade our specialised skills?".
Jodie has been growing her own vegetables for over 25 years in a particularly unusual climate (a tropical highland) and is now getting it right. She works for money four days a week and on her days off, she produces at least three quarters of their food. Amazingly, when she was otherwise unemployed, she grew only about a tenth of our food.
Jodie says, "the increased return for effort is mostly due to experimentation and observation, years of making mistakes and noticing them, but also there is the confidence that comes from secure tenure, and being able to plan for the future. Somehow I snaffled not only the most wonderful husband, but also the fabulous soil that he lives on!"
Jodie and John's property is 85 hectares, part of John's family farm, with a mixture of 2/3 elevated pasture and cultivation on mainly red basalt soil and 1/3 forest. They have a very pleasant view of farm, forest and mountains from our house. For the years when John has been busy building the house, their nephew has been conventionally growing crops including maize, potatoes and wheat. The remaining land has been agistered for beef cattle and they look forward to getting back into farming but will probably always have some level of shared activity. Students in the PDC will be visiting Jodie's garden to see a 'dome' chicken tractor mandala garden in abundance and John's house build and Lucas Mill system.
John Wilkie was born in Herberton and lived all of his life on the family farm, except for 6 years studying vet science at uni in Brisbane. Instead of working as a vet, he was delighted that his Dad called him home to run the farm.
John has used his biomedical education to understand living systems and his own health and over the years, has been intermittently working at timber cutting, farm cultivating, cattle handling including horseback, earthmoving, fencing, building and machine repair and modification...all since the age of ten years old. He is currently farm managing and building his house including milling the timber.
From the time he was a small child, he remembers a love of playing in the dirt with toy machines then progressing to helping with real tasks of earthwork and timber cutting with hand tools.
Post WWII when his dad bought the farm, conditions and finance in the Wondecla area were little advanced from the pioneering days and timber post and firewood sales were a valuable supplement to their meagre income. From his father and mother who grew up in and survived the Great Depression, he learned the art of conservation of materials and energy which led him to the desire for a more natural and sustainable lifestyle and dislike of waste.
Living and working on the farm most of his life allowed him to make best use of the available materials, situation and weather conditions of their site. With this in mind and using his past experience, he set out to build his house from the ground up, sourcing and milling the timber from his farm.
John's wish is for a long and healthy good life, has been prompted by his bio medical education and the joy he share's in his life and house with his lovely wife.