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Chill House Mini Farm, Cowes

An art-filled, tropical permaculture vibe

Paul Toovey chookhouse food sign.jpg
Paul Toovey nature strip on steroids.jpg

Veggies 🥦   Berries 🍓   Fruits 🍋    Bees 🐝   Chickens 🐔

Meet the gardeners and their garden

Paul, the gardener, and Curl, the artist, have created a rampantly productive and art-filled garden that feels as if it should be in tropical Queensland, or at the very least, Nimbin. It’s hard to believe that it’s located just one block behind the main shopping street in Cowes (where you can savour some seriously hipster, locally roasted coffee). The nature strip at the Chill House pumps out leafy green vegetables, growing happily around an olive tree. Chickens have a large, netted run to keep them safe from predators. Masses of vegetable beds, berry vines, colourful art and creative construction make this garden a hive of activity. Did I mention bees?

How does your garden grow?

With love, blood, sweat and tears, and generous servings of chicken manure! On a more practical level, I have built trellises to use vertical space in sun traps that allows me to grow kiwifruit and passionfruit. One element of my permaculture approach is saving seeds to localise plants. My silverbeet grew to 9 feet high stalks this year, while I waited patiently to collect the seeds.

What are some of your gardening challenges?

My experience is that there is a lot of trial and error to see what grows well in different parts of the garden. The two-storey north facing wall creates the ideal micro-climate for the banana palm and black sapote. Climbing the ladder to get to the bee hives on top of the studio is a good test of my balance and coordination!

Be inspired and learn!

Paul says: If you look after your chickens, they will turn your soil and produce healthy manure for your growing vegetables. We have a chicken scrap box where neighbours can drop off food for our chickens.

Garden extras

Taste Paul’s many flavours of mead produced by his happy bees.

Paul Toovey banana palm and black sapote.jpg
Paul Toovey Mural and vegetable patch.jpg
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