Under and around Milkwood


About forty minutes out of Mudgee is Milkwood, a tiny 17-acre pocket of land named for Dylan Thomas and fast becoming a world-leader in permaculture education. Milkwood, both a farm and teaching centre, is home to Kirsten Bradley (above), Nick Ritar and their son Ashar Fox.  Kirsten and Nick both have an artistic background but now focus on teaching. This place is all about healthy soils, healthy people, energy sources and attitudes. We visited last week and fell in love with the place; Alice interviewed everyone she could (above), Tom terrorised the scare crow and I wandered around in awe of what these dudes (and they are dudes) are doing.

Milkwood, a 'farmstead social enterprise' runs courses on everything from market gardening to creating edible forest gardens, natural beekeeping and even rocket stove technology (see picture of the rocket stove powered shower below). Volunteers and students come and go and the population can swing from five or six souls to up to 80 at a time. Resident market gardener and gun composter Michael Hewins (below) looks after the vegetable and fruit crops while the very clever Rose Newberry is charged with nourishing the Milkwood population. She sources pretty much everything - from vegetables to pork, lamb, honey and eggs - directly from Milkwood and preserves or ferments everything she can get her hands on. The afternoon we visited Rose was off foraging wild nettles for dinner (seriously) so we missed out on a meeting but did sample her baking via these rye, almond and chocolate biscuits (pictured above and recipe below). They were beautiful with a milky cup of tea. Rose's sourdough croissants also look pretty great.

When asked why she lives here and loves it so, Kirsten replies, "the clean air, clean food, getting up every morning with a  clear purpose, and knowing that the work we're engaged in isn't hurting anyone or sending our planet backwards, and is helping to regenerate our stewarded patch of earth." What a fantastic way to describe your work and home.

And why permaculture? "Permaculture and small-sacle farming is very attractive to artists," Kirsten says, "it's full of problem solving to achieve something that's (hopefully) more than the sum of the parts." I can't recommend a visit (by appointment) to Milkwood highly enough, and their upcoming class schedule looks just fantastic. Contact Kirsten for more information. And if you can't make it there in person, Kirsten's blog is the next best thing.

Rose’s chocolate, almond and rye cookies

250g butter
250g rye flour
100g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
250g raw sugar
2 eggs
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 160C and line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
Melt the butter and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile combine the flours, sugar and baking powder, fold through the butter, eggs, almonds and chocolate until just combined. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.


  1. Wow Sophie...this is very cool. How very inspiring. Sourdough croissants, oh my.

    1. Thanks Jane, Milkwood really is such a great place. Hope you had a great weekend, Sophie


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