Coming together 2023

Coming together 2023

Discussions were deep, laughter aplenty, the fire burnt hot, warming so many

For the first time since the lock down period, permies from around the country were able to gather again, this time on Peramangk country in South Australia.

With the inspiration to recognise the movement’s roots and early beginnings a plan was hatched to create an informal community space at the Australian Permaculture Convergence 2023 in South Australia modeled on the original Chai tent at Woodford Folk festival in 1984, co-created by Robin Clayfield, Skye, Karin and Hans Erkin.

The aim was to create a comfortable space to lounge and debrief from each day’s activities. The chai tent was well received by the Mount Barker community on the Friday night Twilight market event, attended by over 600 people.

The following days during the APC saw lots of crushing of spices, turmeric and ginger. The scent of chai drifted through the beautiful site of the Waldorf School, drawing in people to enjoy a nice cuppa and have a chat.

A small team of volunteers from the East Coast, supported by a local crew, set out to raise funds for Permaculture Australia’s Permafund that supports permaculture projects around the world.

The crew created the space and cooked up lots of hot and spicy cups of chai served with local honey and lovely dark chocolate covered Medjool dates filled with macadamia butter. A special handmade pottery mug was created and crafted by a local potter in Berry NSW to raise funds for Permafund.

The feedback the organisers received from the attendees was overwhelmingly positive, and that it was a testament to the incredible energy and enthusiasm that the chai crew brought to the event.

The Cosmic Chai Tent project was able to donate $2200 to Permafund.

Crew member John Champagne of Brogo Permaculture said, “We’ve started a conversation about privilege in and around permaculture circles lately and communities coming together to raise funds for Permafund offer us all an opportunity to assist those in greatest need and manifest our Third Ethic of Fair Share.”

Fundraisers such as open gardens and community events to support Permafund’s micro grant program are a wonderful help and are very much appreciated.

All gifts, tithes and donations made by individuals and businesses to the Permafund that are over $2 are tax deductible in Australia and are warmly welcomed.  

Contributions to the Permafund can be made here.  Many thanks. 

For more information and to share fundraising ideas for Permafund please contact

Permafund Supports Congo Project

Permafund Supports Congo Project

The Democratic Republic of Congo remains one of the richest in terms of natural resources yet is still one of the poorest countries in the world. Its colonial history was savage.  There was a failure to hand over any semblance of administrative and executive governance during the country’s pathway to Independence in 1960. The result is a tragic trail of dictators who, through corruption, have prospered while their people have struggled.

It’s in this environment that Permafund’s grant program has entered its 17th country by partnering with an NGO known as the Union of Women for Rural and Community Development which goes under the acronym UFEDERCO.

They’ve been operating in the region of South Kivu in the east of the DR Congo since 2015. They have a broad range of areas where they assist the most vulnerable women and children with food security and sustainable agriculture, legal and judicial assistance for victims of gender based sexual violence, the  promotion of the environment, education and access to water.

The AU 2000 Grant Permafund provided went directly into starting food gardens in 2 primary schools. The project aims to fight against malnutrition in schools, improve the economic and social livelihoods of women in poor families and increase food and organic seed production to make the region more resilient toward food sovereignty. 

Most of the budget was for the purchase of the initial seeds and equipment for making the garden beds. The materials were distributed to 700 students from the 2 schools as well as to 60 women farmers selected on need who then formed Permaculture committees to oversee the project. The main crops grown include cabbage, potatoes, eggplant, amaranth, onions, peppers, carrots, and dongodongo.

700 school children benefitrd from the permaculture training supported by Permafund

Also part of the project was a series of educational training related to Permaculture topics such as developing soil fertility and making organic pesticides. Over 70 marginal farmers were involved in this training.

Utilising garden tools was part of the students’ training

This was an early report from the project which seems to be going well. The main outcomes will occur at harvest time, and then how well they can save the seeds so that the school gardens continue to go on year after year.

This is the type of project where Permaculture can make a big difference…..where the need is great. $2000 is allowing 700 children and over 100 women farmers to have a chance at a better quality of life by improving their nutrition. We’ll keep in contact with this group in the Congo and look forward to both further reports and maybe assisting them again in the future.

Fundraisers such as open gardens and community events to support Permafund’s micro-grant program are a wonderful help and are very much appreciated.

All gifts, tithes and donations made by individuals and businesses to the Permafund that are over $2 are tax deductible in Australia and are warmly welcomed.  

Contributions to the Permafund can be made here.  Many thanks. 

For more information and to share fundraising ideas for Permafund please contact

Story by John Champagne, Chairman of the Permafund committee

Permafund grant for Urban Farming in Kenya

Permafund grant for Urban Farming in Kenya

The Rafiki Community-Based Organisation in Nairobi Kenya successfully applied for a $2,000 Permafund grant in early 2023 to support their Rafiki Urban Farming program.


Their community initiative is being implemented in Viwandani informal settlements in the city to promote sustainable and resilient food production systems by applying permaculture ethics and principles.

The program was initiated to address food insecurity, improve nutrition, poverty and environmental degradation in the community. By implementing permaculture practices, the program seeks to empower the local community to grow their food, reduce their dependence on external food sources and improve their overall well-being. 

Since its inception, the Rafiki Urban Farming program has made significant progress in various aspects. Firstly, the program has successfully mobilised and engaged the community in the establishment and maintenance of urban farms. Through awareness campaigns and capacity-building workshops, community members have been trained on permaculture and organic farming techniques and sustainable resource management.

As a result of these efforts, a considerable number of urban farms have been established across Viwandani informal settlements. These farms have not only provided a source of nutritious food but have also served as spaces for community cohesion and skill-sharing.

Vertical gardening using recycled containers
Vertical gardening with recycled contaners

The program has facilitated the formation of farmers’ groups where members collaborate, exchange knowledge, and support each other in implementing permaculture practices. Moreover, the program has successfully reached its initial target of establishing 50 individual and communal permaculture gardens within the community. These gardens are owned by residents to ensure widespread access to fresh produce. As a result, more than 50 individuals now have direct access to nutritious food from their gardens, reducing their reliance on expensive market purchases. 

The current status of the Rafiki Urban Farming program is highly encouraging, achieving several notable accomplishments. Firstly, the program has significantly increased access to fresh and nutritious produce for the community members, with a diverse range of crops and herbs being cultivated. This has positively impacted food security and improved the overall health and well-being of the residents, particularly vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly.

Permaculture training leading to food production solutions

Plus the program has empowered community members by providing valuable knowledge and skills in permaculture and sustainable farming practices. This has led to increased self-reliance, as farmers can now grow their food, make their compost and reduce reliance on external sources. Additionally, the program has created income-generating opportunities through surplus produce sales, contributing to poverty alleviation and economic empowerment within the community. 

Furthermore, the program has raised awareness about the importance of sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation. Through community events, workshops, and educational materials, the program has disseminated information on permaculture ethics and principles, leading to a broader understanding and appreciation for sustainable practices. The program has also forged partnerships with local schools, enabling the integration of permaculture into the curriculum and fostering a culture of sustainability among the younger generation. 

Challenges encountered 

● Lack of access to quality organic inputs, such as compost and organic fertilisers. Participants are encouraged to compost their organic waste and share it with others, creating a decentralized composting network.

Utilising available resources with practical results

● Limited space so innovative solutions adopted such as vertical gardening, rooftop farming and re-purposing small, unused spaces.

Saving space recycled containers & hanging gardens

● The knowledge and skills gap has been addressed by conducting regular training sessions covering permaculture principles, organic farming techniques, soil management, pest control, and crop rotation

● Climate change and water scarcity: Limited amount of water available for irrigation.  Viwandani, like many other urban areas, is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including erratic rainfall patterns and water scarcity. These climatic conditions pose challenges for urban farming, particularly in maintaining adequate water supply for irrigation. To address this, the program focused on water conservation and management strategies such as rainwater harvesting and water recycling (kitchen water and bathing water). By implementing these measures, the program has reduced water wastage and ensured efficient water use in urban farms.

● Community Engagement and Ownership: Initially, there was resistance and scepticism among some community members regarding the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the program. To overcome this challenge, the program emphasised community engagement and participation. Regular community meetings, dialogue sessions, and participatory decision-making processes were conducted to involve the community in program planning and implementation. By fostering a sense of ownership and active participation, the program gained community support and commitment, leading to the success and sustainability of the urban farms. 

Report recommendations 

Scaling Up and Replication: Given the success and impact of the program in Viwandani, it is recommended to consider scaling up the initiative to other sub-villages of Viwandani informal settlements within the region. This could be achieved through collaboration and continuity of partnership and supporting other local organisations with similar objectives and goals to replicate the program’s model and share best practices. By expanding the program’s reach, more communities can benefit from permaculture education and information, sustainable urban farming practices, improving food security and promoting resilience. 

Using all available space to produce a harvest

Strengthening Partnerships: Continual collaboration with local organisations, government agencies and donors is essential to ensure the availability of necessary resources and support. Strengthening existing partnerships and establishing new ones will enhance the program’s capacity to overcome challenges related to resource constraints, access to inputs, and funding. This could be achieved through regular coordination meetings, joint fundraising efforts and knowledge-sharing platforms. 

Training and Capacity Building: Continuous training and capacity-building programs for farmers and community members should be prioritised. These programs should focus on advanced permaculture techniques, composting, organic pest management, and soil conservation. Providing access to training resources, workshops, and mentoring will ensure that farmers have the necessary skills and knowledge to maintain productive and sustainable urban farms. 

Restoring fertility in under utilised spaces

Education and Awareness: Continued efforts to raise awareness about the importance of sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation should be carried out. This could involve conducting educational campaigns in schools, organizing community events, and disseminating information through various media channels. By educating the broader community about the benefits and practices of permaculture, the program can encourage more individuals to adopt sustainable farming methods and contribute to a healthier and greener environment. 

Monitoring and Evaluation: Implementing a robust monitoring and evaluation system is crucial for tracking the program’s progress, identifying areas for improvement, and measuring its impact. Regular assessments of the urban farms’ productivity, environmental sustainability, and community well-being will provide valuable feedback to inform program adjustments and ensure its long-term success.

The way forward 

The way forward for the Rafiki Urban Farming program in Viwandani Informal Settlement involves a strategic approach to sustain and expand the program’s impact.

Consolidate and Strengthen Existing Farms: It is crucial to ensure the continued success and productivity of established urban farms. This involves providing ongoing support to farmers, including access to resources, technical guidance and mentorship. Regular monitoring and evaluation should be conducted to identify areas for improvement and provide targeted assistance where needed. By consolidating the existing farms, the program can maintain its sustainability and maximise its impact. 

Expand the Program’s Reach: Building on the success achieved in Viwandani, the program should aim to expand its reach to other informal settlements within the region. This can be done by conducting community needs assessments and identifying potential partner organizations or community leaders who can champion the program in new locations. Engaging with local stakeholders and tailoring the program to meet the specific needs and challenges of each community will be crucial for successful replication and expansion. 

Foster Knowledge Exchange and Networking: Creating platforms for knowledge exchange and networking among farmers, experts, and stakeholders is essential for continuous learning and innovation. This can be achieved through regular community meetings, workshops, and farmer-to-farmer exchanges. Encouraging the formation of networks or associations among urban farmers will facilitate the sharing of best practices, challenges, and solutions, fostering a supportive and collaborative environment. 

Urban farming between buildings and on rooftops

Enhance Value Addition and Market Access: Exploring opportunities for value addition and market access can contribute to the economic sustainability of the program and the farmers involved. This can involve training farmers in post-harvest handling techniques, food processing, and marketing strategies. Collaborating with local markets, restaurants, or food cooperatives to establish direct links between farmers and consumers will ensure fair and sustainable trade relationships. 

Secure Long-term Funding: Securing adequate and sustainable funding is crucial to sustain the program’s activities and ensure its long-term impact. The program should explore diverse funding sources, including government grants, corporate social responsibility initiatives, philanthropic organisations, and crowdfunding platforms. Developing a comprehensive fundraising strategy and cultivating partnerships with donors and investors who share the program’s vision will provide the financial stability needed to continue and expand the program

Many thanks to the Rafiki Community-Based Organisation for this report. . 

All contributions to the Permafund are warmly welcomed to support permaculture environmental and education projects in Australia and around the world. Gifts, regular tithes and donations to the Permafund over $2.00 are tax deductible in Australia and can be made here. Many thanks.

For more information please contact

WAND Philippines project at the one year mark

WAND Philippines project at the one year mark

Elmer Sayre of Water, Agroforestry, Nutrition and Development Foundation in the Philippines has given us WAND’s one-year-on update. 

The project is in Naawan Highlands, Mindanao (the large southern island of the Philippines), where the aim was to establish a 3000 seeds and seedling nursery and implement 2 permaculture design courses for the local communities. 

The seedling nursery is flourishing with timber tree seedlings and high-value fruit trees like jackfruit, durian and rambutan. These will help restore the degraded lands and provide income opportunities for the farmers. 

Elmer ran the first PDC in September, in collaboration with a local youth organisation called Association of Locally Empowered Youth in Northern Mindanao (ALEY-NM).  They focused on young people, who are losing interest in farming and leaving their ancestral lands. WAND wanted to inspire them to “embrace farming as a noble and rewarding profession”, and to learn how to regenerate their farmlands using permaculture principles. 

Youth training

The second PDC will be held in December, and will prioritise the indigenous Higaonon communities, who are still practicing slash-and-burn farming, which is harmful to the environment and their livelihoods.  WAND hopes to empower them to adopt more sustainable and productive farming methods, and to preserve their rich culture and heritage. 

WAND has also distributed open-pollinated vegetable seeds, such as okra, tomato, eggplant, squash and pechay, as well as sweet potato and ginger, to trainees and neighboring farmers.  These will help to diversify their crops and improve food security and nutrition.  A total of 175 individuals have benefited from the seeds and planting materials. 

WAND are grateful to their village volunteers, who have been instrumental in facilitating technology transfer and monitoring the needs in the field. They are “the backbone of our project and the agents of change in their communities”. 

Village volunteers on the steep slopes

Lastly, WAND has partnered with Mindanao Forestry Ventures, an organization working on carbon credit/offset advocacy, and hope to generate support from this facility to scale up their land regeneration initiative.  This will not only help combat climate change, but also create more value for farmers and their lands.

Elmer concludes. “Thank you Permafund for your continued support and interest in our project. We will keep you updated on our achievements and challenges. Please feel free to share this post with your friends and networks, and help us spread the word about our work.”

Elmer Sayre checks jackfruit cultivation
Elmer Sayre checks jackfruit cultivation

Contributions to the Permafund can be made here.  Many thanks. 

For more information and to share fundraising ideas for Permafund please contact

Story by Jed Walker of the Permafund committee

Who Gives a Crap? Permafund does …

Who Gives a Crap? Permafund does …

Doing our daily business, we might not think about it much using our so-called sophisticated water closets which cost thousands of dollars to maintain and waste millions of litres of fresh water daily.

People in a refugee camp aren’t that lucky. Doing their business can often be very dangerous, especially for women. The pollution created is also a big problem and so are unsanitary toilet compounds that can’t deal with the volume. There are no pipes or costly sewer systems.

Jay Abraham from Biologic Design in the UK has coined the phrase ‘tree bog’ for the toilet system that simply uses an old essential habit that people in his native England used daily. As he describes ‘People used to do their business in a bucket in a closet and they would have a separate bucket of soil and sprinkle it over each time a deposit was made. It kept the smell away.”

Tree bog infographic by Andrew Jeeves (Regrarians)

The way the tree bog works is quite similar. Its floor is built up high, at least 1.5 metres above ground level.  The space under the floor is enclosed by 2 layers of wire mesh filled with carbon material (hay, straw, dry grasses) to allow air flow, absorb excess nitrogen and provide a visual barrier. The human waste is covered with sawdust, ash or soil and breaks down, feeding the surrounding area that’s planted out with trees, grasses and ground covers.  In less than a year there are fast growing trees & fruits such as papaya to pick plus shade and biomass to refill the wire mesh carbon wall.

Dense planting surrounds the base

For 30 years Jay has been using his tree bog invention on his own property, fine tuning it to be shared with the world. He’s supported many projects that are building the toilets in refugee camps.

Permafund has recently funded a tree bog in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Established in 1990, the camp has some 60 000 inhabitants with many living there in limbo for years and years.  

Since then, Marcelin Munga from Food & Health Education (FHE) in Kakuma has attracted more funding to build another tree bog. Members of the Permafund team were invited to tune into a live Zoom workshop with Jay Abraham beamed in from the UK.  Marcelin hosted some 20 people from the compound including 3 cooks and 2 educators and a number of mothers with their babies, eager to start building their own tree bog. The workshop members used tools previously purchased with the Permafund grant.

There were some technical difficulties with the Zoom, but we got see the site and meet the group. Jay gave a report from another camp where one of the tree bog toilets had caught the attention of UNHCR. They inspected it with a negative attitude and the intention to knock it down but instead left impressed and gave the tree bog their tick of approval.

Donations made to Permaculture Australia’s Permafund that are over $2,00 are tax deductible in Australia and are supporting the grant program that assists organisations like Farm and Health Education to make a significant, practical difference in their community through the application of permaculture design principles and ethics.

‘’There is no such thing as waste’’

Charlie McGee of Formidable Vegetable

Article by Felix Leibelt of the Permafund team

For more information please contact

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