Do you know an individual or group who has made significant contributions to the permaculture community?
Nominations are now open for the Permaculture Service Awards Recognition of Elders Recognition of Community Service Innovation and Changemakers Nominations are open until Midnight Sunday 26th February AESDT
Awards will be presented at the Australian Permaculture Convergence, in Adelaide in April 2023 The awards will be announced at the APC and presented to those in attendance. Recipients who are not attending the APC will have their awards delivered to them. The presentations will be live-streamed.
The 2022 Permaculture Australia Annual General Meeting was held on the 23rd April at Research, Victoria and online.
Congratulations to the following Board of Directors who have been appointed for 2022/2023:
Toad Dell, Queensland
Debbi Long, Victoria
John McKenzie, Victoria
Donna Morawiak, Queensland
Jed Walker, New South Wales
Huge thankyou to the outgoing Directors, Wendy Marchment, Greg Rodwell and Sophie Thompson. Big thank you also to Virginia and Stephen Solomon for hosting the AGM at their residence. It was a gorgeous Autumn day which was perfect for a pot-luck lunch outside post the AGM followed by a tour of the house with a Retrosuburbia perspective. The property is one of the Retrosuburbia case studies and is undergoing further changes to ease the load post retirement from paid work.
Special thanks and acknowledgement was given to Wendy Marchment with a bouquet of flowers, on her work as Secretary over the past four years. In particular, on getting PA’s compliance and governance systems up-to-date, having established many templates and processes including the Directors’ induction checklists which will make the transition easier and smoother for incoming Boards.
PA members Northey Street City Farm (NSCF) was founded in 1994 by a group of local residents to grow their own organic food. After negotiation with Brisbane City Council, they were given the use of flood-prone land that was cleared of buildings after the 1974 floods. The Farm has grown steadily over the more than 25 years since then, in land area and in the number of activities, with the history documented in this slideshow
NSCF now lease the 2.5 Ha site in inner -city Windsor, on the banks of Breakfast Creek. From a mostly bare site the Farm is now a green oasis with over 1500 mature trees and shrubs, around 80 raised garden beds, worm farms, chicken runs, bee shed and demonstration plantings. The plantings include a native cabinet timber woodlot, native useful plants windbreak, riverine rainforest, a variety of bamboos, and subtropical and tropical fruit trees. They are also the host and organisers of the Australasian Permaculture Convergence, to be held in Brisbane in April 2021. Thanks to Ronni Martin for providing this insight into Northey Street City Farm.
A month in the life of the ‘farm’
In a typical month we have regular public activities like the Organic Farmer’s Markets every Sunday, City Farm Nursery open every morning except Mondays and informal playgroups and Earth Arts twice a week. Our youth education program consists of school visits, homeschool programs and the Earth Kids program during school holidays. Adult education Sustainable Living Workshops are held most Saturdays, and PDC and other courses on weekends. Four times a year we have an evening event with music and food stalls, including the well-known Winter Solstice Festival. Of course, there are also all the behind the scenes regular activities like maintaining the site, making compost, keeping bees and chooks, and growing food in the forest gardens, allotments and market garden. These activities are reliant on keen volunteers, some of whom have been coming to the Farm regularly for years.
Permaculture ethics and principles core component of the farm
NSCF Cares for the Earth by promoting local food production, restoring native vegetation, green waste recycling and organic practices. We promote local food production by providing demonstration gardens to show various growing techniques; workshops to provide skills for use in people’s own backyard; allotments where people can grow their own; and an Organic Farmers Market to improve access to organic food in urban areas, and to provide a market for farmers. We have an Environment Action Plan which reviews our activities each year and plans further improvements. The goals of the Environment Action Plan include reducing water and resource use, minimising waste, enhancing biodiversity, and using renewable resources. For example, we have rainwater tanks, solar power and hot water systems, and use organic growing methods. We apply Care for People through our participatory organisational structure using consensus decision making. This encourages participation from our volunteers and members as well as our staff. We Share the Surplus byproviding shared free lunches three days a week. Excess Farm produce is given away on a ‘share table’. Free events like the Wednesday talks & Earth Arts activities for kids give something back to our community. We try to assist other community groups with advice, a stall at the Markets, or a venue for their events.
Engagement with First Nations Communities and knowledge
In October 2016 a Decolonisation Action Group, made up of volunteers including staff and Management Committee members, was formed at the Farm. The group’s purpose is to build partnerships with First Nations peoples and organisations; to build respect for First Nations culture and understanding of the history of colonisation; and to provide opportunities for First Nations people to learn from our education programs, to be facilitators/ teachers on our education programs, and to gain employment at NSCF.
The DAG organises activities which:
Acknowledge that we are on Turrbal land
Mitigate the harm done by colonisation to the land and its people.
Tell the stories of the history of this place and people.
Support engagement with First Nations people.
Create a space to hear First Nations stories.
Create a culturally safe place.
Employ First Nations people to show we value diversity, acknowledge inequity and to learn from and value their knowledge and skills.
Explore the links between Permaculture and First Nations knowledge and culture.
Host and vision for 2021 APC
NSCF has an organisational Goal of ‘fostering the growth of the Permaculture movement’ and hosting the APC is an ideal way to work towards that. It is also a great way for us to contact other permaculture practitioners in the region and to raise our profile nationally. When we developed our proposal to host the APC back in 2018, we were confident that we had the skills and experience to put on an event like the APC – no -one predicted the difficulties involved with a global pandemic!
“Our vision for the APC is that it will be thought-provoking, educational, and fun. We have allowed free time each afternoon and social activities in the evenings so that participants can meet new people and catch up with friends. We’ve tried to balance the program to include Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share topics so there should be something to interest everyone each day.“
One of my personal highlights will be attending workshops on topics I know very little about and stretching my mind a bit. I am looking forward to the keynote speakers as well, as each is covering a very different topic from their different background and experience. As a member of the Permafund Committee, I’m also looking forward to ‘our’ workshop as well as learning more about permaculture in very different contexts in some of the other workshops. And on the local front, learning about how people have implemented permaculture in different parts of the country is also fascinating. A final highlight for me at the APC’s is always the chats at mealtimes or around the campfire in the evenings.
Ticket sales for APC close on 1st April 2021
We encourage everyone to join us at the APC and to buy their tickets soon. We will be closing ticket sales on 1 April to give the caterers time to prepare. We will be operating under a COVID-safe plan at the APC, which means that we have to cap the numbers at 200 overnight guests, and take other social distancing measures. However, this will be easy on the site which has lots of outdoor seating areas and 200ha to spread out in. In the unlikely event that we have to cancel the APC due to government restrictions we will offer full refunds. Purchase your tickets here (and PA members get a great discount too).
Rod Hughes had been working in environmental management for nearly three decades, including half of this time in his dream job running the Swan River Trust before moving into permaculture. After leaving work to study a Diploma in Permaculture with Ross Mars at Candlelight Farm, he joined Perth City Farm as Farm Manager, and started a consulting business, Leafcutter Permaculture. He is also a PA professional member. Martina Hoeppner of the PA Education Team chats with Rod about starting out in permaculture, the impact of accredited training, and his life motto – “be nice and grow things”!
Could you tell me why you left your job and how you got into permaculture?
I had always been drawn to the natural world and had grown veggies about the place since I was a kid. I picked up a second-hand copy of Permaculture One and then was given the Designers Manual. This crystallised my thinking and I committed to doing a PDC at wonderful Fair Harvest in Western Australia. I followed this up by doing the Advanced Certificate with Ross Mars and Graham Bell, did two permie earthworks courses (one at our place in the Chittering Valley) and then decided to take the leap, quit my job and enrolled in the Diploma in Permaculture. My whole career has been in figuring out ways for us to have good lives while either keeping the environment good or making it better. I became increasingly impressed with David Holmgren’s thinking and how permie concepts can be applied to pretty much all aspects of our lives.
You have a Diploma in Permaculture now. How is it helping you in your current work?
Doing a series of design projects with other Diploma students really helped give me confidence to start offering design services to others. So I set up my Leafcutter Permaculture business. I’m now really enjoying engaging with folks in helping them design garden systems which are nice places to be, grow good food and help heal planet earth. I find the design process really creative and love that your skills grow with each project. I am very happy to keep doing that, with a view to getting more involved in rural and peri-urban projects.
Of course, having a permie background is a great help in my role as Farm Manager (other job of dreams) at Perth City Farm, which was built all those years ago by some seriously clever permaculture thinkers. The teaching angle emerged for me this year and I feel extremely honoured to have been on the PDC teaching team at Fair Harvest for the first time in January. I have just started offering permie workshops at City Farm – something we will definitely build in the year ahead.
What would you say to someone who is just discovering permaculture and interested in working in this field? As I stress to clients and students, permaculture is so much deeper and wider than growing veggies. But getting engaged in growing good food is a great place to start because it connects to so many other aspects of our lives. So…come and volunteer with me in the garden at City Farm! I would tell anyone to read lots, do an intro [to permaculture] course, read lots more, then do a PDC – it will change your life!
The last year has been an interesting one. Has this changed your thinking about permaculture? I don’t think the pandemic has changed my thinking about permaculture at all. I have been convinced for a very long time that being kind to each other, looking after mother earth and ensuring fair share is critical to our survival. My motto: “Be nice and grow things”.
Rod Hughes is a professional member of Permaculture Australia, the national member based organisation in Australia. Sign up as a member here today to join hundreds of members across Australia advocating for permaculture solutions.
MartinaHoeppner is a professional member of Permaculture Australia and an active volunteer with the PA Education team. More information on the Accredited Permaculture Training, including the Diploma of Permaculture completed by Rod, and the PA education team can be found here.
Perth City Farm is a 26 year old half hectare urban farm that provides space and opportunities to build community connections, and educates and enables people to live sustainably. Further information on how to volunteer with Rod and the team can be found here.
PA’s AGM took place on Sunday 14th April 2019. The main business besides approving the annual report is accepting a new Board of Directors for the 2019/2020 year.
The new Board is now Virginia Solomon, Wendy Marchment, and Cally Brennan who all stood again. New comers are Ian Lillington from Victoria and Kym Blechynden from Tasmania. More info on the Board of Directors as well as the volunteer teams can be found here.
Permaculture Australia thanks Ronni Martin, Keri Chiveralls, and Dylan Graves for their tenure on the Board.