Category Archives: Courses

Time For New Course?

Fresh Course

Bill Mollison and April Sampson-KellyDoing a permaculture course changed our lifestyle completely.  When we first heard about Permaculture, we had a tiny family, a dog and a lawn.  We began to enjoy the new challenge of learning old skills. We started fixing things, growing food, making stuff work, and savouring the small successes.  Instead of buying expensive stuff we spent our time and savings on building a healthier life, growing food and connecting with the amazing people in our community.

How Does a Course Enrich Us?

chinese dateEvery participant of a Permaculture Design Course has different needs and wishes. Yet, everyone goes home richer with knowledge and skills. The advantage of doing a course in the company of others is that you build friendships and a support network.

A permaculture design is as flexible as a bicycle. It can hum along in basic mode or you can ramp it up to a higher production mode whenever you want to. [Bill Mollison]

Get Empowered

afluenza-cureDoing a permaculture course in full enables you to create a design for yourself, your family, and friends. Your permaculture design can be drive by you as your needs change. Understanding how your design functions the connections. The productivity can be scaled up or back to fit your needs. The ultimate experience to be gleamed is empowerment.

The permaculture design course gives you more than a design.
It gives the skills and tools for empowerment.

In the earlier years of Permaculture interviews London asked: Short of starting a farm, what can we do to make our cities more sustainable?

home-grown-teas

Mollison answered: Catch the water off your roof. Grow your own food. Make your own energy. It’s insanely easy to do all that. It takes you less time to grow your food than to walk down to the supermarket to buy it. Ask any good organic gardener who mulches how much time he spends on his garden and he’ll say, “Oh, a few minutes every week.”

By the time you have taken your car and driven to the supermarket, taken your foraging-trolley and collected your wild greens, and driven back home again, you’ve spent a good hour or two — plus you’ve spent a lot of money. Permaculture can be as simple as sitting down and making a plan. A little effort is redirected from mowing to implementing the plan. Then time is spent harvesting the fruity rewards.

Tea doesn't have to cost the earth.
Tea doesn’t have to cost the earth. Have a Permaculture cup of tea.

If you have always wanted to do a full permaculture design course, this is a great way to do it. Jump in. Immerse yourself in a full permaculture retreat with local and international participants of a range of ages and backgrounds.

Take time off to retreat and plan

students on winter Permaculture Design Course Bandusia 2015

Take time to slow down, think deep and plan for a new lifestyle. Perhaps you have already been learning heaps about Permaculture but not yet finished your PDC, this is a good chance to push through.  Retreat and Renew. Learn about practical elements of growing food, social aspects of building resilience in your community and become more self-empowered.

Upcoming Permaculture Design Course Retreat

We research, share, and teach permaculture online. Thanks for supporting us.Learn permaculture with experienced and mature elders in St. Albans near Sydney January 2, until January 14, 2017.

Permaculture Sydney Institute engages only highly experienced and professional trainers for the Permaculture Design Certificate Course.  All are practicing Permaculturalists deriving an income from Permaculture. Each has over 15 years experience in the movement, and vast experience in work and training. They also come highly skilled and qualified in a range of related professions and specialist areas.

April and Snowy her hand-raised goose
April and Snowy the hand-raised goose

Book yourself in and join us.  In this Permaculture Design Course there will be the chance to learn from great mentors: Penny Pyett, April Sampson-Kelly and architect Peter Bretnock.

If you want your stay to be super comfortable then be quick to book yourself a room. If you want to connect with nature and bring a tent there is the option to camp beside the pool and join in for hearty meals.

Lots more information at http://www.permaculturesydneyinstitute.org/permaculture-design-certificate/pdc-booking-form/

Doing a Permaculture Design Course changes your future.Bandusia - how to get there

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Permaculture Principles: Stabilisers, Enhancers and Flows –

Evolving Our Permaculture Theory

Permaculture design thinking has brought success in many situations. Permaculture seeded the transition movement, built huge aid development programs and helped millions of urban gardeners worldwide. Permaculture techniques have enriched farm regeneration.  But you don’t have to leave the armchair to use permaculture thinking. New groundbreaking social structures are popping. And business strategies have emerged.

Core Ethic – Care

 be as flexible and mobile as nature herself

In 70s permaculture activists were fighting for a way to conserve native forests by growing more food in the cities. Now permaculture is fighting for healthier environments for both the people and the wildlife. We see huge populations without breathable air, clean water or healthy food. World Health Organisations now recognise that planet health and human health is closely interconnected.

We strive for a fair share but the ultimate success would be a win-win. A win for a rich and diverse environment and a win for human health and prosperity.

Principles: Stabilisers, Enhancers and Flows

bike - technology perfectionA holistic design approach can contain steady stabilisers, fancy enhancers and an ability for energy and information flow.

  • System stabilisers build resilience into a design.
  • System enhancers enable acceleration.
  • The principles that encourage flow let the system self-check, adjust or adapt.

Mollison says ‘A permaculture design is like a bicycle’.  With this new perspective we can see that the seat, pedals and symmetry of the tool ensures stability. The tyres providing padding to the wheels, the suspension under the seat, the gears and the brakes are all system enhancers. The bicycle chain enables the obvious notion of a flow of energy from the pedals to the wheels. But another clever system flow device is the steering. The steering mechanism lets the rider respond to changes in the path. This allows information to flow from the bicycle to the rider. Adaption can be instantaneous and smooth. The modern bicycle is a clever and comfortable design. A skilled rider can steer without touching the handle bar and often without concentrating.

Permaculture aims to design a culture that is as comfortable, 
responsive and sustainable as a bicycle.

A Fresh Look at Early Permaculture Principles

Permaculture principles stabilsers,-enhancers-and-flow-mechanisms

Bill Mollison’s Principles:

Mollison didn’t formally list a set of permaculture principles in his text. But he and many other permaculture teachers have gleaned these from his texts including Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual.

Permaculture Principles To Build Stability

    1. Relative location: position elements in the design so that there is minimal transport between them.  Use natural forces where ever possible to work for you.
    2. Multiple functions for each element: Each Element in the design should be used and positioned to perform a range of functions.  For Example: A driveway for vehicles can also be used to harvest water and low growing plants can be planted onto the center strip of the driveway.
    3. Multiple elements for each function: Satisfy each required function with more than just one element.  E.g. heating can come from multiple elements – a mini greenhouse; a wood-fired stove, geothermal, solar radiators or trombe wall.
    4. Energy Efficiency: Run your equipment to its potential. Share (or hire) equipment.  Support durable technology that is adaptable and is easy to maintain.
    5. chicken-weeds-worms-towerStacking increases the productivity of a system.  A forest often has many layers: bulbs, moss, grasses, ground covers, Fungi, Herbs, Shrubs, Small trees, Epiphytes and Aerial plants, Vines, Climax Species, Parasitic plants.  We applied this handy design tool in our chicken house design. 
    6. Consider Context: Work with the natural and social energies of the landscape and the community.   At the steps of parliament house, Berlin (The Reistag), there is a grassed area that is designed to withstand wet conditions and high pedestrian traffic.  In this situation, the compromise of hard and soft landscape tools works well with nature and also provides for the needs of the people.

Permaculture Design Enhancers

    1. Peppermint Tea
      Homegrown Tea

      Stress-free Yield: By giving each element several functions we can accept that not all the functions can be performed all the time.  A duck will hunt for snails, eat weeds and fertilise the garden. She will swim, preen, mate or shout at strangers.  The eggs that are produced per busy duck are lower than in controlled conditions but the sum of all the functions is greater.

    2. Use Biological Resources. Fossil fuel is best used
      unusual-foods garden mt kembla
      Food Diversity

      when it makes itself redundant eg. a Tractor can work a landscape that will no longer require a tractor to manage it.

    3. Diversity includes a variety of species of food plants or animals.  Diversity in nature builds resilience and resistance to pest attack.  It also lets us find which variety works well in our own particular climate and micro-climates.
    4. Information and Observation replaces Energy:  Intensive systems with feedback and observation are more productive and reduce waste.

Permaculture Flow Mechanisms

    1. Natural Succession: Imitate nature in your plans to help a system evolve to meet your needs.  Build a food forest that looks and behaves very like your local natural forest.
    2.  Appropriate Technology: Maximise the use of a technology by sharing or hiring equipment. Make sure your equipment works to full capacity.  Choose the simplest and most effective technologies first.
    3. Energy Flow: harness existing energy flows E.g. Wind, wave solar, gravity or running water.

Learn about Permaculture with us, the pioneers of online permaculture training.

we have a lot to crow about

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Sale Until 4th July !

Get Abundant At An Affordable Price

Permaculture is abundant living without costing the earthFor one week only we are offering special rates with our hybrid learning systems. Permaculture Sydney are soon having a winter Permaculture Design Course offering a unique hands-on permaculture learning experience. This one-off sale gives you choice as well as a great discount.

Sale On until 4th July

  • enjoy natureBring a friend and get 20% off both enrollments. This applies to the Permaculture Sydney’s Winter Permaculture Design Course at Bandusia AND to PermacultureVisions Online Full Permaculture Design Course.
  • Refresher rates for people who want to refresh their permaculture design course training. You need to show your old certificate at time of registration. Get a whopping 33% off when you enroll as a refresher student. Get a new perspective and become a leader with some of the hands-on activities and enjoy contributing your experience and former knowledge to this dynamic group.

NEW Pay-As-You-Go Option

invest in living resources, including yourselfPerhaps you can only get a few days off work? Perhaps you can’t afford to do the full course? Here is a brilliant way to get your PDC started. You can join us for a day, a few days or the first week. We offer you the opportunity to finish your course later in a hands-on course or online with PermacultureVisions. We will give you advanced standing and credit towards the next course. This enables you to continue the course at your own pace within 2 years.

This special rate allows you to participate for just $180 per day. This amazing rate includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. You can decide how many days you can spend on the course and we give you standing and credit on the next course.

Conditions and Expiration

This is a one-off opportunity applying to the Winter Permaculture Sydney Design Course and Permaculture Design Course Online Enrollments until 4th July.
Call Penny Pyett on (02) 9888 2575.

our award winning Permaculture business and site

 

 

 

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Design An Awesome Lifestyle.

Don’t Wait for Magic or Luck

Prosperity comes from clever design.

time_and_tide_permaculturevisionsLearn how to grow food. Find the difference between organic gardening and permaculture living. Design to use natural energy in your living and workplaces. Build community. Get a good grounding in permaculture  with a combination of theory and on-site learning. Get the lifestyle your really want by doing a course to build your planning and design skills.

Are you bursting to do something positive to help stem climate change? This course is for those who are ready for an empowered, permaculture lifestyle and want to get the skills to make that happen.

“What permaculturists are doing is (some of) the most important activity that any group is doing on the planet. We don’t know what the details of a truly sustainable future are going to be like, but we need options. We need people experimenting in all kinds of ways and permaculturists are one of the critical groups that are doing that”. ~Dr. David Suzuki, Geneticist, Renowned Environmentalist and Broadcaster

Permaculture_Design_before_after

This twelve-day intensive retreat covers everything from exploring the relationship between our health and soil health to finding social strategies – it’s a course filled with permaculture concepts, knowledge, techniques and practice. The overall goal is always to build a better future for all.

How To Create A Better Future

Turn Your Dreams Into Functional Designs.

not-what-you-have-but-how-you-use-it

The first step in enriching our lives is to take stock of what we have left. The planet will survive, but mankind’s habitat is challenged. So, What do we really want and what do we need? What people need is pretty simple (yet surprisingly delicate). How can we determine if it’s gone or going?

What Do YOU Really Wish For?

We all need clean air, clean water, clean soil, genetic material. Most of us also desire freedom, a sense of purpose, connection with nature and connection with others.

A permaculture course gives us skills to measure, interact, design and protect what we have and enrich that which needs.

In Permaculture Sydney’s Course you will learn:

  • ryan sunflowers2

    Permaculture topics as taught by Bill Mollison. We ensure the Designers Manual is fully covered as the main curriculum

  • an abundance of extra resources and topics to support the main curriculum and provide variable perspectives of the main topics
  •  specialist expertise and knowledge (drawing on the strengths of trainers) with a range of experienced quality trainers to cover topics of the Permaculture Design Certificate in which they have
  • theory and practice of permaculture with a range of delivery styles and methods throughout the course including small group work, one to one work, lecture style sessions and whole group discussions
  • A real life, whole design process from interviewing the client, formulating the brief, gathering data for the site, developing a design and finally presenting the design
  • specialist and specific design exercises as well as total design exercises
  • a swag of essential designers skills and knowledge

Our courses are a bit longer than others – so we can ensure we make it the best possible experience for you. PSI honors the two-week intensive Permaculture Design Certificate course format traditionally designed by Bill Mollison. We believe our format produces the best possible outcomes and learning experience for participants as it was designed to do.

Permaculture Sydney Institute aims to provide the participants with both the skills and the confidence to start “doing it” themselves. We guarantee participants will be able to go home and do what they have learned in the course. Permaculture Sydney Institute is committed to quality education, quality outcomes and quality of life for each participant. Follow up contact and support for graduates is also provided after the course.

 

Course Outcomes

Once completed the Permaculture Design Certificate participants will

  1. Have a through understanding of Permaculture and its theory, ethics, principles and techniques and why it is critical in obtaining a truly sustainable society
  2. Know how to design and create a permaculture system in both town or country settings
  3. Have acquired the skills and confidence to proceed on their own garden design and construction (with some help of their Permaculture group and friends)
  4. Be familiar with the design process from client interview to presentation of design
  5. Have professional options for Permaculture including ones own Pc business
  6. Have acquired some practical design skills required for construction e.g.: map & landscape reading, marking contours and making swales and other criteria.

Your Investment
Permaculture Sydney Institute is able to offer course participants a flexible fee scale depending what type of accommodation you choose and your personal situation. Remember, the venue is a beautiful country retreat so whatever accommodation type you choose you will be doing the most important course of your life in a fantastic setting. You couldn’t ask for more.

ENROL HERE

permaworld-small

 

More Women Than Men Grow Food

Feminine Faces Farming

April milking a cow whilst researching house cowsBruce French likes to remind us all.  “More women than men grow food“.  His experience is vast. He and his family have worked internationally to research and document a huge library of rare food plants and their uses.

Most food today is produced by industrialised farms run by economists. State-of-the-art production uses robotic tractors and drones.

Aranya supports hundreds of Permaculture farming widows in India

Farmers have a broader knowledge of the land, water, native animals and the history of pests and disease. Farmers know soil biota, fungi, plants, animals and have a keen eye on the weather. The real farmer is grounded and deeply connected to the land.

Worldwide, most farmers work on small holdings close to home. They are closely connected to their extended family. When we visualise farmers – do we see their saris, beads, skirts and loose flowing pants?

https://www.grain.org

Trending: Saris, Aprons and Straw Hats

paint-fasterIn permaculture, most of the designers, diggers, inventors, illustrators, organisers and promoters, educators and activists are women. But most of the public faces are male. Curious?

Robyn Francis and Geoff Lawton are two permaculture leaders around the same age with same start time, similar training, both dedicated, full of know-how, work and self confidence.

Yet these two world leaders enjoy very different lifestyles. Geoff travels extensively. He has set up a global team with lots of people working for him and has spent well the hard earned permaculture money on educational videos. Robin is still very much in charge of her home-site, travels to teach in poor countries and blogs about her pet pig, Polly. They both look very comfortable with their permaculture choices. The difference is huge.  Publicly, we encounter Geoff a lot more.

Systemic Differences

lisa_wormfarm

Professor Stuart Hill notes: Men will set up systems. Traditionally, women will maintain them. Permaculture teacher Chris Evans of Nepan witnessed the ability of the women in the patriarchal Himalayan society to rebuild, modify and improve on a wall that was originally built by the men.

Permaculture women in wealthy sub-cultures enjoy planting and nurturing trees, pick fruit, dig swales, fix leaky downpipes, repair steps, replace the oven light, screw a hinge back into place, retrofit stuff, sew, nurse sick animals, saw and bring in the wood.  Although it is frustrating that women have not yet earned their right for equal pay, they have earned some flexibility.

Women value variety and flexibility. They are creative and innovative.
Women will nurture systems and develop incremental improvements.
When given an education they can enjoy a huge range of successes.

Women have the perfect nature to live ‘the ethical dream’. They dream of self-reliance, empowerment, being capable and feeling a little challenged. It is not a perfect dream. Life is not perfect. And they know it.

Give A Woman Your Support

Women get injured more when they ‘hit their shoulder with the shovel’. This is not just  because they are new to it. It is often because they lack mentors and training. They will stubbornly learn the ‘traditionally’ male skills by looking over a shoulder or reading books or by just trying to follow a practical post on the internet.

Join the communal effort to give women equal financial and emotional support to do courses, ask questions, build their skill base and become empowered. We at Permaculture Visions offer a 40% discount so you and your partner can study happily together.

 

Immerse Yourself in a Permaculture Design Course

we can do itWhy Do a Permaculture Design Course?

There is a truck load of free information about permaculture today. There are videos and specialist pages, consultants to do the designing for you and associations with newsletters, field days and conferences.

Is a Course Really Helpful?

get empowered“Isn’t there an ap for this? Surely it would be faster and easier to hire a designer. The designer could design our lifestyle for us”.  Er, yes! You can get a designer but it would be handy to be able to understand how it works to how to operate the design. A permaculture design is as flexible as a bicycle it will hum along in basic mode or you can ramp it up to a higher production mode whenever you want to. [Bill Mollison]

Get Empowered

It would be wonderful to be able to steer the permaculture design as your needs change. It would be paradise to understand how the design functions, know how to connect with it and build the abundance. Yet the ultimate permaculture experience is the empowerment.

 

The permaculture design course gives you more than a design.
It gives the skills and tools for empowerment.

In the earlier years of Permaculture interviews London asked: Short of starting a farm, what can we do to make our cities more sustainable?

Mollison answered: Catch the water off your roof. Grow your own food. Make your own energy. It’s insanely easy to do all that. It takes you less time to grow your food than to walk down to the supermarket to buy it. Ask any good organic gardener who mulches how much time he spends on his garden and he’ll say, “Oh, a few minutes every week.” By the time you have taken your car and driven to the supermarket, taken your foraging-trolley and collected your wild greens, and driven back home again, you’ve spent a good hour or two — plus you’ve spent a lot of money. Permaculture can be as simple as sitting down and drawing the plan then a little effort in implementing it and then some time in harvesting the rewards.

before and after permaculture design

If you have always wanted to do a full permaculture design course, this is a great way to do it. Jump in. Immerse yourself in a full permaculture retreat with local and international participants of a range of ages and backgrounds.

Time to retreat and plan

students on winter Permaculture Design Course Bandusia 2015

Take time to slow down, think deep and plan for a busy growing season. Perhaps you have already been learning heaps about Permaculture but not yet finished your PDC, this is a good chance to push through.  Retreat and Renew. Learn about practical elements of growing food, social aspects of building resilience in your community and become more self-empowered.

Upcoming Permaculture Design Course Retreat

We research, share, and teach permaculture online. Thanks for supporting us.Learn permaculture with experienced and mature elders in St. Albans near Sydney Jan 2nd til 14th 2017

Permaculture Sydney Institute engages only highly experienced and professional trainers for the Permaculture Design Certificate Course. All are practicing Permaculturalists deriving an income from Permaculture. Each has over 15 years experience in the movement, and vast experience in work and training. They also come highly skilled and qualified in a range of related professions and specialist areas.

Book yourself in and join us.  April Sampson-Kelly of Permaculture Visions International teaches face-to-face in a PDC only once a year.  In this Permaculture Design Course there will be the chance to learn from great mentors.

April and Snowy her hand-raised goose
April and Snowy the hand-raised goose

If you want your stay to be super comfortable then be quick to book yourself a room. If you want to connect with nature and bring a tent there is the option to camp beside the pool and join in for hearty meals.

Lots more information at http://www.permaculturesydneyinstitute.org/events/category/permaculture-design-certificate/

Bandusia - how to get there
How to get to Bandusia

 

Anxiety and Permaculture? What’s the link?

Anxiety – Not A Merry Culture

sad-elephant-in-the-roomPermaculture (the design for a permanent culture) has the core ethics of care of people and care of the earth.  These two ethics seek to redress social and environmental ills.

Dr Terry Leahy sees clearly the link between anxiety and permaculture. Terry is presenting at our upcoming mini-conference about Permaculture in Society and Development.

Terry Leahy writes: How can it be good that one in four Australians experiences serious attacks of anxiety at one time or another in their lives? In any twelve month period 14 per cent will get anxiety attacks.

What is there to be Anxious about?

What is there to be anxious about when we live in the lucky country, surrounded by mod cons and ever-increasing wealth? The environmental catastrophe that everyone knows we are in for but nobody talks about too often. Work and economic survival in the neo-liberal economy.

have a giving spirit

Once upon a time jobs were for life if you wanted that, and there was full employment. House prices were low and government supplemented the housing market by building low-cost rental accommodation. Now a huge proportion of the population in work are doing casual jobs rather than having permanent positions. Those who are in permanent work are scared that it cannot last. House prices are crazy and there is no security in renting. Unemployment seems minor at six per cent but most people who cannot get a job do not register as unemployed, it is so hard to stay on welfare.

Add to all that the sense that the recession of 2008 has never gone away and the realization that the Australian economy still hangs on a knife-edge. People are made constantly aware that their life security depends on constantly jumping through hoops and being ready for anything.

We need an economy where people’s daily well-being does not depend on the vagaries of the global market, where the environment has priority and where you can really expect your grandchildren to live as well as you have.”

Self-Reliance versus Self-Sufficiency

bushwalk

Self-Sufficiency is rare. It has the goal of complete independence from society. In the self-sufficient culture, the sick or elderly are often left to die. Self-Reliance is different. Self reliance is a way of thinking and living that enables others to be part of the responsibility of providing for our needs by trading and sharing. The ‘Self-Reliance’ economy would involve care for the weak. Permaculture promotes self-reliance.

Keeping the Power of Feelingswe-can-do-it

When we are faced with anxieties it is hard to maintain optimism. Yet “optimism has more power than fear” (Bob Brown). Optimism is patient, organised and forgiving. Whereas, Fear is reactive, quick and often unplanned, leading to panic and regret .

Where To From Here?

Listen to your heart, your ethics and consult members of your community.  If you live our bio-region, join us in an upcoming mini-conference and workshops
Permaculture in Society and Development – Mini Conference 30th April 2016 or start do a permaculture course, build your own think thank community and enjoy a better future!

Hard and Soft Technologies

Can’t Live Without You

help-meTechnologies can be soft or hard and everything in between. Soft technologies are those enacted by people, e.g. knitting needles are a soft technology – they need people to be of any use. Hard technologies are the ‘physical stuff’. A fridge is a hard technology – it can function without being enacted on by people.

We use hard technologies to make things easier and faster, by reducing the number of choices for users. Hard technologies are brittle and stifle creativity. They prevent us from doing things and that is why we use them.  They are complete. Hard technologies act as filters – they structure our spaces and limit what we can do.” Jenny Mackness

Soft and Pliable Technologies

396861_10150473893378180_777400348_n-300x200
Ferrocement – a fun soft technology

Soft technologies are flexible and empower creativity. The user has to plan and orchestrate processes, which is more difficult. Soft technologies may seem simple  to produce (in retrospect) but require time, skills and observation to be used.

Evolution

bikeMixed technologies can be an intelligent conversion or enhancement of technologies. A bicycle is the perfect mixed technology. It is the most efficient form of transport known to man. It requires human energy, skill and observation to operate it. And so we Segway to the Motor car. The common car is a mixed technology.  The self-powered, self-driving car will be a hardened technology.

chicken-weeds-worms-tower

A Chicken-Worm-Tower is a mix of simple animal housing technology with good flow-management strategies (the waste from the upper level becomes food for the lower levels).  A simple pit Toilet (the old hole in the ground) is a hard technology whereas a good composting toilet is an evolved mixed technology.

Modifying Hard Technologies

A building is traditionally a hard technology but with observation and adaptations it can become a mixed technology, we can learn adapt and drive the structure by opening windows to allow breezes through, installing heavy curtains prevent air circulation and heat loss, reduce heat through window panes by applying reflective foil, or plugging drafts.

Does a Technology have to cost the Earth?

Choosing a technology requires a little bit of cost analysis beyond the financial cost.

  1. technology-save-us?What is the embedded energy in the product,
  2. how long will it last,
  3. is it able to adapt with my needs?
  4. Can it be repaired?
  5. How much waste will be generated when it breaks?
  6. Can it be dis-assembled for recycling?

A young Permaculture site is a soft technology, it requires vision, care, skill and training. The user needs to be flexible and creative. But when the mature Permaculture is designed well it becomes a harder technology. There is less work to do. Once the water management and forests are established, it is harder to manipulate or damage the environmental system and when we learn to work this technology it rewards us with food and improved habitat. Within this world we can still be creative and we have more resources to play with.

 

Learn more about Permaculture Design with Us

Participate in a hand’s-on workshop through our hybrid learning systemFront-Page-Gallery-9

Christmas Tree: ‘Alive and Kicking’

Bigger and better every year.

Our Christmas tree is now 10 years old and is slowly getting bigger! It is now over 2m tall.  When it outgrows the doorway it will be allowed to reside in the garden. It is an indigenous Araucaria evergreen called a Bunya Bunya.

Bring in the Christmas Tree
Bring in the Christmas Tree

Bunya Bunya’s have massive (35kg) cones of edible nuts. We must be careful never to stand under a Bunya when it is in fruit. Bunyas are an ancient species, surviving over hundreds of millions of years. But very few of these proud ancestors were stuck in a pot and harassed by summer ornaments. Our Christmas tree has character. The young leaves are bright green and there is a positive glow about the tree.  We must forgive this tree for having bent branches due to the annual decorations and an imperfect trunk due to constant traffic on the balcony where it usually resides in the ‘off-season’.

Before you rush out to buy one of these trees in time for Christmas just 8 years later, be warned! There is a reason that this tree species is an ancient survivor. Beneath the good looks is resilience (it is heavy and strong) and great self-defense strategies (it’s pretty anit-social).  Getting a Bunya Bunya to come indoors is a battle that needs armory and planning. Even after using thick clothes, eye protection and gloves, we bear the scars.  A Bunya Bunya gives nasty scratches to anything that goes near it including possums, deer, birds and festive revelers.  The plan is to bring the tree in when the days are dry. This makes it lighter to transport. We then let it have Christmas ‘drinks’ in moderation to avoid the risk of death by over-watering.

handmade-angel-for-christmas-tree‘Tis The Season Of
Consumer Power

There are workable alternatives to living in a sea of toxic plastic. This is the season of great consumer-power.  Lets enjoy supporting farmers, restorers, artists and craft-makers who make the effort to rid our world of non-recyclables and invest in ethical gifts.

Value Biological Resources

A fundamental principle of Permaculture design is to use biological resources. An investment in renewable resources such as a living tree requires only a little maintenance. Like a fine wine, it gets better as it ages. Traditionally, most people would cut or buy a cut tree (you can use a branch), bring it in and then find a use for it after Christmas. Most people have to compost there tree somewhere.

some ‘silly season’ recycled Christmas Tree ideas

Real Is Better

A real tree is a far better choice than a plastic tree. The plastic tree not only gets shabby with age, it is nearly impossible to recycle because it made of many different types of plastics and not made to be easily disassembled.

handmade-star-for-christmas-treeA simple native conifer or pine tree that is fragrant and not spiky would be an excellent investment.  If you have patience and skill, invest in a rare indigenous tree. This will give you pride and revolutionise the legendary tradition of having a real Christmas Tree.  If you want to a few sample, dig up a weedy pine sapling from beside the road. If you are feeling highly skilled and have no growing space, try a bonsai Christmas tree. Bonsai’s can live for hundreds of years.

Let’s start a fashion growing potted Christmas trees and if we succeed we can give the spares as a special future Christmas present.

Difference Between Organic Gardening and Permaculture

The Permaculture garden is a lot more than an organic garden. Although organic food production often has many clever design elements, the foundation of permaculture design lies in the ethics. The ethics are both care of earth and care of people.

Intelligent cultural design is mindful of its relationship with its environment.  We are not just living in a period of energy resource limits. We are now heating the planet dangerously with our energy exhaust.  Whilst wealthy people can cope better with the impact, most people cannot afford to move or get air-conditioning,  or truck water in. Even the wealthy cannot fix the nitrous oxide build-up or save their beach homes. And we all need to eat.

Permaculture thinking can be applied to many physical and social structures. It is energy-wise and collaborative to minimise the impact of a culture on the surrounding environment. A good permaculture design has great potential. It can connect neighbours. The biggest Permaculture site in the world, The Chikukwa Project, has helped the whole community.

The permaculture environment is the result of a caring lifestyle.
You will see:

  • Focus on closing the nutrient and water loop by using waste, and reducing the dependence on inputs.
  • Creation of healthier soil and diversity of produce.Our Permaculture Design and Demonstration Site.
  • Responsibility for waste. There is an aim to eliminate waste. i.e. no excess nitrogen nor weed seed, released.
  • Variety keeps residents engaged and excited about growing their food.
  • Imitating nature by conserving the soil and water, and genetic capital. There is an intensive use of space. Plants are allowed to set seed and are inter-planted for pest control. You are unlikely to see food plants in rows. The permaculture site will look more like a food-forest with some open glades full of herbs and perennials.
  • Optimisation of natural energies, e.g. wind, dust, leaves, bird droppings.
  • Nutritious food and habitat for people AND native animals and birds.
  • experimental permaculture chickenDependence on observation. Permaculture design is a mixed technology.  Bill Mollison (co-founder of permaculture movement) said that permaculture, like a bicycle, it is adaptable and has great potential but is only as good as the user.
  • Minimal risk. If we fail at permaculture, nature simply takes over. The soil will continue to heal, the forests grow and someone else can step in to rebuild our efforts.

difference between organic gardening and Permaculture

What’s the difference between Organic Farming and Permaculture?

permaculture plans for farmsPermaculture uses organic gardening and farming practices but it goes beyond. It integrates the garden and home to create a lifestyle that impacts less on the environment.

There is a significant difference between closed and open food-production systems. In a truly closed system (one in vacuum or in space) energy is not lost it is simply transferred from one being or element to another. In a permaculture system, (which can never be fully closed), energy is ideally used by one element effectively and passed on for the benefit of the next before it leaves the system.

Organic Farming promotes the use of natural fertilisers, making use of the natural carbon cycle so that waste from plants becomes the food (fertiliser) of another. In organic farming however, as with ALL farming, minerals are being lost from the farm every time a truck load of produce is carted to market.

The Ideal Permaculture ‘Farm’ brings production of food closer to consumers and the consumer’s wastes back into the cycle. It also reduces the energy wasted in transporting the foods by producing the foods where the people are. In permaculture, the people contribute in their daily life toward the production of their food and other needs.

Soft Technology Tea - Tea doesn't have to cost the earth
Tea doesn’t have to cost the earth

When is Permaculture not Organic?

There will be times when a permaculture system is not strictly organic:

  • being adaptable as nature when we use local resources rather than imported certified organic resources
  • When we want to increase diversity by bringing in unusual plants/seeds from a non-organic plant supplier
  • Permaculture is capable of enhancing a supply and converting it to organic. for example: when we grow food-plants along polluted river or roadsides to filter out toxins and break them down to safer levels. We know we may not be able to eat these plants but we can keep them as our ‘catastrophe’ backup.

Essentially Permaculture is trying to close the energy loop by optimising what we have.

Fostering A Culture of Community Recycling

compost is pretty hot stuffThis is not usually due to an intentional use of pesticides, but often due to the use of a by-product that would otherwise be wasted. We could use old shoes as pots for plants, an old truck tyre/tire to hold the edges of a pond. Sometimes the choices are difficult and we have to do a quick cost/benefit analysis. For example: At Silk Farm we use recycled oil (to make fire starters) and the oil cans (for our simple worm-farm towers) from a non-certified organic restaurant who sometimes uses leaves and fruits from our garden. This ‘trade’ stimulates our local relationship and fosters a culture of resourcefulness.

Permaculture Can Actively Convert Resources

worm towersWe would need to weigh the benefit of a using a free local waste (ie. horse manure) versus supporting a good organic supplier who may be in another country. When we design well, the permaculture system can act as a cleanser or processing agent. Sometimes, we can transform then utilise a polluted waste (within what is realistic achievable).  In the case of the horse manure, we could ask the owner about their anti-worming medication, check that it can be broken down by high-temperature composting then go about re mediating it before using it.  Good permaculture design will aim to have a better output than input. Organic gardening may not have checks to reduce the system’s impact on the wider natural system.

Build you knowledge about permaculture by doing a permaculture design course with us.

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