International Permaculture Day in the East—2013

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It was a conspiracy of the clouds... and the sun and skies to deliver a day of warm autumn weather to International Permaculture Day 2013 at Barrett House and the Randwick Sustainability Hub in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs.

First Barrett House


The day started at Barrett house, Randwick City Council's sustainability education and community centre at the eastern end of the Frenchmans Road commercial strip. There, garden designer and educator Emma Daniel, herself a native of the Eastern Suburbs, led a workshop on seeds and seedsaving while, in sequence, architect Terry Bail (Archology), who designed the retrofit of the building for energy and water efficiency and to demonstrate safe building materials and finishes, took people through the makeover.

Outside, landscape architect and permaculture educator, Steve Batley (Sydney Organic Gardens) explained the design and plant selection for Barrett house's small, edible cottage garden and the adjacent footpath Foragers' Garden. There was much interest in the vertical garden array attached to the garage wall.

Inside, Fiona Campbell and Russ Grayson led a discussion around the Transition Towns idea, and it was fortunate that people from the new Transition Randwick were present. Fiona and Russ are 'official' transition trainers, having done the course offered by Sophie and Naresh from Transition Town Totnes in the UK.

Next, Randwick Sustainability Hub

With the morning session at Barrett House ended, it was down to Randwick Sustainability Hub, the name given to the energy and water efficient and community education retrofit of Randwick Community Centre on Munda Street.


Part of the Hub is the Permaculture Interpretive Garden, a public park/education facility for Randwick Council's courses in Organic Gardening, Food Forest Gardening and Living Smart. It was here that the afternoon's events for International permaculture day 2013 took place. With the coming of evening adults and children joined in to slice salad veges and BBQ vege skewers for a shared meal, after which the video, The economics of Happiness, was shown, followed by a discussion around the ideas it raised.

During the afternoon, an acoustic musician created a relaxed ambience in the garden and people joined in the activities or sat in the sunshine to socialise. Steve Batley, who designed the Permaculture Interpretive Garden, led a tour while collaborative economy maven, Annette Loudon, who has been a leading instigator of the community cashless trading System LETS (Local Exchange and Trading System), organised the community swap party. On the grassy patch, garden educator Emma Daniel organised the children's nature art activity creating hanging weavings of natural materials, however at times children were almost outnumbered by participating adults.

As the sun moved closer to the horizon and its light yellow-shifted to bathe the garden in a golden glow, it was time to fire up the public BBQ and prepare those fresh salads from Sydney Food Connect, the community supported agriculture initiative connecting Sydney region farmers to metropolitan eaters, for the pre-video shared meal.

May I thank all those who made International Permaculture Day on 5 May 2013, here in the Eastern Suburbs, a success? Emma Daniel for her garden and seed knowledge and for organising the children's activities; landscape architect Steve Batley; architect Terry Bail; the crew from Permaculture East, Transition Randwick and Rhubarb Food coop; Sydney Food Connect CSA for making tasty local organic food from Sydney region farmers a reality; Fiona Campbell and Peter Maganov for imagining such a day and for making it happen.

See photo galleries of International Permaculture Day 2013 at Barrett house and Randwick Sustainability Hub:

Barrett House

Randwick Sustainability Hub

Story and photos by Russ Grayson


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