Merry & Bright at Permaculture Wollongong Institute

Thank you to all our lovely participants. We wish you all happy holidays and a safe season. 2018 was a very active year for us. In March we hosted our first Bush Tucker class. This sold out and we are looking forward to the next Bush Tucker Workshop with Narelle Happ March 16th 2019.

In April, we ran a Grand Permaculture Tour. This was amazing. We focused on the rare chance meet regional founders of the permaculture movement in 3 regions: The Southern Highlands, Kangaroo Valley and Wollongong. Permaculture turned 40 this year and so this tour enabled us to celebrate many of the great principles, strategies and techniques Permaculture which started in Australia, eventually introduced to the world.

We also ran 3 Advanced Permaculture Design Think-Tanks or Design-blitzes. The design outcomes were inspiring. We designed an outdoor teaching kitchen in Bali, a city balcony and a large country property in Bathurst.

In September we opened the garden for Sustainable House Day and a 101 people came to see the no-dig beds, wicking pots, food growing in water, solar kettle and several different solar ovens.

The Eco-Hair Salon is making a big difference for our son, Lloyd. He no longer has brittle and stained fingernails and has a steady employment above the minimum wage. (Surprisingly, many young people have a legal award wage below the minimum wage) All we do to help is keep the garden enjoyable for clients, compost the hair and provide tea herbs for the clients.

Here are a few ideas for next year:

  1. Bush Tucker Class (Confirmed March 16)
  2. Family Pop-up Classes on Worm-farms and Wicking Gardens
  3. More Permaculture Design Blitz Classes
  4. Permaculture Demonstrators Skills Set – New Training for Teachers in schools and Permaculture organisations.

Permaculture Demonstrators Skills Set

This Skills set is new to TAFE Nationally and we are excited to be involved in the roll-out.

Here is a summary of what One of the 5 topics of the Skills Set covers and how it is practiced here at Silk farm

  • Permaculture principles and ethics (we use a lot of principles to get work done on our site including our amazing poultry who weed, give us eggs and chicks, fertiliser and continue to entertain us.)
  • Permaculture practices, such as:
     minimising effort for maximum effect (raking requires less effort than mowing – we have replaced our acre of grass with a food jungle)
     multiple uses for each element in the system (trees provide food, shade, winter fuel and summer mulch)
     using more than one way to provide important functions (mulch is also supplied by a happy lawn-mowing contractor who prefers to give us clippings instead of going to the tip_
     re-using and valuing resources and energy (solar hydronic heating, hot water, kettle, ovens, portable drill and more)
     encouraging productivity of a permaculture system (the food forest is abundant in it’s 27th year)
     seeing solutions, not problems – our biggest challenge was kikuyu it died from overgrowth. The problem of it’s greed killed it in the end.
     using vertical space and other edges and connections. We now have many layers of food growing.
     preventing waste and loss of resources from a permaculture system. The huglekulture swales are capturing surface water, silt and seed.
  • Methods of design (this has been taught in our workshops this year)
  • Pattern understanding (The garden paths are shaped, in part, by the existing landscape so they follow the contours, and harvest water. But they also adapt over time)
  • Integrated systems. (On our site many elements are connected, the chickens free range to satisfy their food and mineral needs.)
  • Animal and plant species selection methods (There are many native animals on our site including a big diamond python that eats mice and any other pests.)
  • Ecological principles (we use no chemical inputs and use only physical barriers to keep pests off our fruits)
  • Climatic and geological influences (our micro-climates vary from sub-tropical to hot and moderately dry. We did loose one plant this year – salt bush. It was hard to keep it dry in our little rainforest)
  • Water in the system (one our site the water is stored in tanks but mostly underground. The raised garden harvest and store a lot of moisture)
  • Soils (The solid clay that we started out with is still mostly solid clay more than 20 years later. It has a thin layer of organic matter on top. However, the trees are big so they must have found a way through.)
  • Earthworks for capturing nutrients (We have devised a number of gentle earthwork techniques. You don’t need expensive machinery to make good earthworks. We have hugelkulture beds and have been enjoying using papier mache to create garden walls.)
  • Permaculture structures and features (most of our features are procreative investments – we use big trees as shade structures. But lately during the drought we created a lot of wicking beds out of recycled buckets)
  • Resource use and reuse (we continue to create ferro-cement structure with recycled aggregate and recycled ceramics)
  • Energy (Cycling energy through the system including social energy through work-learn trade internships)

It has been a great year of learning, thank you for supporting us.