Northey Street City Farm – host of the 2021 APC

Northey Street City Farm – host of the 2021 APC

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 by providing 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).

My motto? “Be nice and grow things”

My motto? “Be nice and grow things”

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”. 

Additional information

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.

Martina Hoeppner 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.

New Directors

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.

Annual meeting at APC14 elects new faces to Permaculture Australia board

Change came to Permaculture Australia at the Australasian Permaculture Convergence in Canberra in April 2018, as a new board of directors was elected at the Permaculture Australia annual meeting.
The directors are elected each year. Their role is to oversee the operation and direction of Permaculture Australia and to make decisions on how it operates. Some members of the board serve as liaison people between the board and Permaculture Australia’s teams such as communications, Accredited Permaculture Training and Permafund.
The meeting approved changes to Permaculture Australia’s membership structure and the distribution of digital and paper copies of the permaculture magazine, PIP, which comes with membership.
John Mckenzie, from Melbourne, presented his proposal for networking permaculture organisations to the meeting. John is a past-member of the board of directors although he is not on the new board.

The newly-elected board of directors. From left: Ben Habib, Ronnie Martin, Cally Brennan, Wendy Marchment, Keri Chiveralls, Virginia Solomon. Not present: Dylan Graves.

The newly-elected board of directors include:

  1. Ben Habib
  2. Wendy Marchment
  3. Cally Brennan
  4. Ronni Martin
  5. Keri Chiveralls
  6. Virginia Solomon
  7. Dylan Graves

Virginia, Ronni, and Dylan continue from the previous board.

Among new board members:

Ben Habib (and here) is a Melbourne-based lecturer in international relations and researcher into permaculture as a global social movement. He is also a participant in Permaculture CoLab, the global permaculture organisation currently in formation
Keri Chiveralls, an Adelaide resident, is associated with establishing the post-graduate Permaculture Courses at CQUniversity
The first challenge to be met by new members of the board of directors is understanding the current situation of Permaculture Australia and what the current working group teams do, as well as how the board and teams operate.
With new board members living in different states, we anticipate they will bring regional perspectives to the governance of Permaculture Australia.

Not even rain could keep us away

…wet but convivial — PA’s annual gathering and AGM 2017

Not even the rain and mud could deter the 150-200 people who made their way along Showground Road to Djanbung Gardens for the Permaculture Open Day on Saturday 13 May.
People mingled, attended workshops on a range of topics including working with bamboo and were fed by Mel and crew’s fabulous food from the kitchen. The day ended in Djanbung Garden’s hexagonal, earth construction building with a meal celebrating 30 years of Permaculture Australia.
Prior to the dinner, veteran permaculture educator and international development worker, Rosemary Morrow, and host of the ABC Gardening Australia TV program and permaculture promoter, Costa Georgiardis, joined the festivity via skype video presence. As they finished, Fiona Campbell, a permaculture and sustainability educator prototyping the application of permaculture in local government in Sydney, stood up and encouraged those present in person and online to thank Robyn Francis for her substantial service to Permaculture International Ltd since it’s inception 30 years ago.
Launched as Permaculture International Ltd, as the entity for publishing Permaculture International Journal when it was based in Sydney on Enmore Road (the premises continues its sustainability role as Alfalfa House Food Co-op, Sydney’s longest-running, member-owned food co-operative), the trading name of the organisation became Permaculture Australia following Australian Permaculture Convergence 10 in Far North Queensland in 2010. Following the demise of the journal in 2000, the organisation sought a new role and developed the Accredited Permaculture Training while its tax-deductible donations and small grants program, Permafund, continued.
Now, Permaculture Australia links permaculture practitioners, educators and groups around the country as a major hub in the geographically distributed network that is permaculture in Australia.

New teams

The open day was one half of a full weekend of permaculture celebration and activity at Djanbung Gardens. Sunday brought the annual general meeting of Permaculture Australia at which a new board of directors was elected and — something new — an interim representative council was set up.
The new Permaculture Australia board of directors is a diverse crew:

  • Dylan Graves — Stanthorpe, SE Queensland
  • Robyn Francis — Nimbin, NSW north coast
  • Virginia Solomon — Melbourne
  • Ronnie Martin — Brisbane
  • Steve Burns — Victoria
  • Eric Smith — Tasmania
  • Kym Blechynden — Tasmania.

New crew to spread the workload

To date, it has fallen to the board to take action on decisions and other matters. That has become something of a burden, however, as it is usually busy permaculture people who put up their hand to join the board. The representative council, or whatever it is eventually named, will assist the board by spreading the workload and take initiatives of its own.
This is an interim representative council that will clarify its role and processes.
It will be revisited at the next Permaculture Australia general meeting when the council will be formalised.
There was discussion about whether the council is actually a representative council or a working group of Permaculture Australia, however the decision was to continue with the ‘interim council’ name as that would allow the team to keep the main thing the main thing and get on with the substance of their work.
Questions were raised about the role of the board. Would its purpose include support for permaculture groups? Engagement with permaculture’s emerging global presence via the Next Big Step for Permaculture? Would it use the sociocracy model of decision-making? How would it relate to Permaculture Australia’s existing teams around Accredited Permaculture Training, Permafund and communications?
A member-accessible discussion space for the representative council has been set up in the Buddypress part of the Permaculture Australia website. Unlike email which can be lost down the timeline unless users catalog their mail, the Buddypress function, which works like a social network/conversation space, keeps the stream of communications together.
Members of the council are drawn from different parts of the country:

  • Yvonne Campbell  — NSW, north coast
  • Renee Bailey — Ashgrove, Queensland
  • Ian Lillington — Castlemaine, Victoria
  • Bruce Zell — Cairns, Far North Queensland
  • John Champagne — Bega Valley, NSW south coast
  • Chris Carroll — Sunshine Coast, SE Queensland
  • Wendy Marchment — Highton, Victoria
  • John McKenzie — Melbourne
  • Robyn Francis — NSW north coast
  • Leah Hattendorff — Ipswich, Queensland
  • Russ Grayson — Sydney.

The annual meeting was a calm and relaxed affair in the building-in-the-forest-of-useful-species that Robyn and her team have built in what was an old, cleared cow paddock on the edge of subtropical Nimbin.

Some thank you’s

Thanks to last year’s board of directors (Richard Pang, Megan Cooke, Mike Hayden, Annaliese Hordern, Robyn Francis, Virginia Solomon and Kym Blechynden for your dedicated work during the year.
Thanks to Robyn Francis (and for her long role in Permaculture Australia) and Permaculture College Australia and Djanbung Gardens for hosting the weekend with the venue and for raising funds for Permaculture Australia.
Thanks to Mel from Abundance Cafe and her crew for the food.
Thanks to all with the foresight and enthusiasm to make their way to Nimbin for the open day and general meeting and to those who participated by telepresence from parts distant.

The weekend was hosted by Permaculture College Australia and Djanbung Gardens


PA Gathering & AGM — 13-14 May 2017

Join us in celebrating 30 years since the incorporation of Permaculture International Ltd, now trading as Permaculture Australia. Hosted by Permaculture College Australia Inc at Djanbung Gardens as a fundraising event for Permaculture Australia.
Friday 12th – meet up informally for dinner in Nimbin 7pm (details provided with registration)

Saturday 13th ‘Beyond Sustainability’ Permaculture Fair & Public Open Day

10am-4pm at Djanbung Gardens: Entry $5 donation (members free)
Stalls, workshops, talks, presentations, garden tours, displays, delicious local food and refreshments. PA members invited to give workshops/presentations, set up displays and have a stall. PA will have table space for member’s promotional materials.
Stall fees: $10 for small table 1m2 (or half trestle table). or Large 3x3m stall space  (provide own marquee, table) $15 members/ $25 non-members.  Stalls must be booked in advance.

Sat. 6.30-11pm  PA 30th Anniversary Fundraising Dinner
Booking essential before May 6

Live entertainment and guest speakers Rosemary Morrow & Costa Georgiadis.  Mingling and nibbling with starters & live entertainment from 6.30. Delicious meal and dessert catered by Abundance Cafe permaculture chef, Melian Fertl, will feature local food, (vegetarian, grass-fed meats, gluten free options) with over 90% of ingredients grown within 35km.
Dinner cost: $40 members ($50 non-members)   NB Organic wine, local beer & espresso coffee for sale, teas & cold N/A drinks free.

Sunday 14th  10am-4pm Visioning Permaculture Australia & AGM
Booking essential before May 7.

NB this day is primarily for members and those interested in deeper involvement in Permaculture Australia

  • 8-9.30am — Breakfast in the gardens – cafe open (b’fast not included in ticket)
  • 10:00am — Visioning and Strategic planning update and future directions,
  • 11.30am — AGM

Visioning the future and formation of the inaugural Permaculture Australia Representative Council.
Sunday catering: M/A tea and buffet lunch. Members $35 (non-members $40)


Full weekend incl dinner — PA members — $75
Full weekend incl dinner — non members — $95
Saturday only — fair + dinner — PA members — $40
Saturday only — fair + dinner —nonmembers — $55
Sunday only — PA members — $35
Sunday only — non members — $40
Transport to Nimbin

  • Airports:  Lismore (Rex), Ballina/Byron, and Gold Coast
  • Coaches and Countrylink to Lismore

Please notify us in advance if you need pick up (3+ people $35 from Gold Coast or Ballina, $20 from Lismore) You will receive further details with your registration.


Camping at Nimbin Showground (just 200m from Djanbung). Many other accommodation options in and close to the village – more details with registration.


Permaculture College Australia Inc and Djanbung Gardens are looking forward to hosting this special event in support of PIL/Permaculture Australia.
Djanbung hosted the APC in 1997 and national gatherings in 2000 and 2002.  PCA sponsorship includes waiving venue costs and providing admin services for the event.

Registration Form

A registration form will be emailed to you after you have purchased your tickets for stall bookings, dietary preferences for catering, and with further information about accommodation and transport options. Please complete the form and return by email.