About us

Chestnut Farm

Chestnut Farm is an 8 acre permaculture property in White Swan Rd, Invermay, on the North East outskirts of Ballarat.  Ballarat is a major regional town in Victoria, Australia, with a population of 100,000.

An old mining area, Invermay has a colourful past and was originally known as “Dead Horse”… clearly not a name selected by a property developer.  We are 15 minutes north of central Ballarat and 90 minutes west of central Melbourne on the main freeway to Adelaide.    The climate is cool temperate, with 700 mm/ 27.5 inches of rainfall on a clay dominated soil. Winters are less severe than many in the Northern hemisphere, with snow a rarity, but frosts reaching -8 C (17 F). Summer temperatures can reach over 43 C (109 F), usually without the high humidity common in more tropical regions.

Chestnut Farm is not a commercial farm, although we do produce heirloom fruit trees for local sale.  The farm features extensive vegetable garden, berries, fruit trees (apples, nashis, figs, olives, pomegranate, elderberry & others), chickens, bees & ducks.  Sheep & goats will be our next livestock expansion and mushrooms are high on the list, too!  WWOOFers are a key feature of farm life; they usually arrive as strangers and leave as friends.

apples pots Chestnut Farm chestnut farm shade hosue plants Chestnut Farm chicken chook house

 Steve

Steve Burns owns and operates Chestnut Farm. Steve completed a residential PDC with David Holmgren and Fiona Buining in 2000, as well as the inaugural All Seasons PDC in 2009. He founded the Ballarat Permaculture Guild in 2008 and has twice been Convenor of the group, which has over 150 members and 1300+ members in its FaceBook group.  Check out Ballarat Permaculture Guild here: www.ballaratpermacultureguild.org or on FaceBook here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/ballaratpermieguild/

Holmgren Burns Chestnut Farm chestnut farm compost students WWOOFers team chestnut farm Steve France river

Other courses completed:

As a permaculture trainer, Steve has been involved in the design & delivery of training since 2008. Steve was part of the Ballarat Permaculture Guild team that developed the extended PDC format known as the All Seasons PDC. This course ran one weekend a month for 12 months in 2009 and in a range of revised formats since. BPG has continued to innovate PDC delivery and is currently successfully offering a 7 weekend PDC running from January to June each year.  Chestnut Farm is the current venue for the course.

After attending the inaugural event in Bolinas, CA in 2005, Steve has twice delivered with David Holmgren on the  Advanced Permaculture Principles and Planning Tools workshops run by David in Australia.

chestnut farm principles card game

Steve has delivered workshops, PDC sessions or facilitated events for The Diggers Club (largest garden club in Australia), Ballarat Permaculture Guild, The Shed (Pasadena USA),  Ballarat Begonia Festival, Clunes BookTown, City of Mt Gambier, Black Barn Farm, Milkwood Permaculture, Geelong Permaculture group and others.

In 2016, Steve brought Dave Jacke to Chestnut Farm for a 9 day Forest Garden Design Intensive, which was attended by students from all over Australia, plus the Netherlands, USA and Mexico.  Steve and Dave co-taught a Forest Garden weekend following the FGDI.

Steve also manages a local farmers market – the Ballarat Farmers Market – which is held every second and fourth Saturday of the month. The market is run by Ballarat climate action group BREAZE (Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions) and provides visitors and Ballarat residents with access to fresh local produce, including certified organic vegetables, fruit,  baked goods, eggs, hot food, seasonal produce and locally made beer, wine, jams, soap, preserves and similar items.

In a previous life, Steve worked for World Vision International for 8 years, managing projects in Asia and Africa.  He worked in the field of competency-based training and assessment for over 20 years.