Applications are now closed for the 2023 Permafund grant round. Submissions have been received from organisations in Australia and countries around the world including The Philippines, Nepal, India, New Zealand, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Successful applicants will be informed in March 2023.
At this giving time of year, a gift to the Permafund will help support the many organisations who have applied for funds for their various projects. For example,
Permafund Chair John Champagne explains “We’ve received many more applications than we have funds available for which demonstrates the global need that Permaculture inspired projects constantly face.”
“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 madehere. Many thanks.
For more information and to share fundraising ideas for Permafund please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Permaculture Australia is the national member-based permaculture organisation in Australia, governed by a Board of Directors. We currently have two (2) vacancies on the Board, to commence in mid-January 2023. The position(s) is for a period of four months, with the option to renominate at the AGM to be held in April 2023. The position of ‘Director’ is voluntary and applicants must be a current financial member of PA to be considered for the role(s), and located within Australia. You can read more about our current Board of Directors here: and sign up to PA here if not a member
Why join as a PA Director?
PA is in an exciting phase, with solid foundations having been set and significant growth in memberships and funding over the past year. Since early 2019 the Board has increased the hours and number of part-time paid positions which has helped enormously in relieving the Board of many operational tasks. Whilst COVID has presented challenges to many people and in our communities, it has also brought a large resurgence of interest in permaculture which is exciting. This is an excellent opportunity for those who are interested and would like to apply their skills and experience while contributing to permaculture in Australia.
What’s in It for You?
Get actively involved in helping take PA through to the next phase of development and shaping our direction
Develop skills in the governance of a Company, which is also a national charity and environmental organisation
Support provided including an allocated ‘mentor’ and an opportunity to shadow more experienced team members.
Develop your work experience, resume, networks and skills.
Flexible volunteer hours that can be completed online from anywhere in Australia.
About the role(s):
We are looking for general Board members (x 2) and someone who’s interested in being Secretary from the 2023 AGM. Ideally, you’d have skills in one or more of the following areas: project management, governance, strategic planning, fundraising, media, marketing, volunteer management, budgets, and/or financial modeling. Full support will be provided including an allocated ‘mentor’ from the current Board, and an opportunity to shadow more experienced team members. PA is a virtual organisation with meetings and work activities conducted predominantly online. Applicants must be experienced in/or willing to learn the use of Zoom and Google Suite, including email and Shared Folders.
Requirements and commitment:
The time commitment is at least two (2) hours per week plus a monthly online Board meeting. Applicants must have a reasonable internet connection to access online documents, and have read the document What Does Board Membership Involve? Our Board follows the Permaculture Ethics and Principles in all activities and has a Shared Agreement all volunteers must agree to. As this is an Interim position, this is an excellent opportunity for those who may be new to a Board role and would like to gain some experience while contributing to Permaculture Australia.
For more information: Inquiries are welcome and should be directed to either Donna Morawiak, Treasurer of Permaculture Australia at email@example.com
How to apply:
To be considered for the role(s) please send a copy of your resume and brief cover letter (no more than one page) outlining the skills you would bring to the role and why you would like to join the PA Board of Directors.
Applications should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday 16th December 2022.
We look forward to hearing from you.
What do some of our past Board members say?
“It has been my privilege to work with a succession of fabulous teams. PA is a wonderful organization with a serious and professional side, as well as a fun and joyous side as we work with our partners and friends in communities all over Australia.” Virginia, Chair of the PA Board
“I’ve found the Board supporting and welcoming with diverse, interesting volunteer work. I’ve enjoyed researching and learning about aspects of governance whilst applying skills from my professional background”, Wendy Secretary of the Board
“I’ve joined PA as a new Board Director and the Permafund Liaison and am looking forward to supporting Permaculture projects in Australia and overseas”, Greta General Board
The Panchayat Raj Movement (PRM) was founded in India in1989 by a group of youth activists with the vision to create a society where every human being can live in peace, harmony and respect with each other. They aim to connect various grassroots groups of different backgrounds to form an integrated community.
Over the course of 6 months two staff members from PRM, with the help of 15 volunteers, facilitated the training of 50 farmers from 10 different villages- Aiyavayal, Kurunchampatti, Shanthinipatti, Kadiyapatti, Veerakudi, Kangampatti, Perampur, Surundampatti, Muttampatti and Palaiyaveerakudi.
The initial session was held at the PRM Field Office run by Mrs. Vijaya, a local organic farmer, teaching permaculture skills with a focus on introducing mixed crops into agriculture, digging small ditches for rainwater harvesting, growing herbal plants to make pest repellents and compost making with agriculture waste and promoting perennial crops. The participants gained hands-on experience in making compost, natural pest repellents and setting up worm farms.
The development of better and more affordable pump systems has seen a steady increase in the groundwater consumption in the south of India. The ancient technique of digging ditches for rain water harvesting was demonstrated and is reviving the area immensely.
Other monoculture farmers have taken an interest in the project and have since experimented with more sustainable ways of mixed farming and natural fertilisation of their crops.
Now over 150 acres of land have been planted out using permaculture techniques. Soil and water conservation structures are being made and only organic inputs were used. 500 to 750kg of produce was harvested and up to 350 farmers in 10 villages are being made aware of permaculture techniques for land regeneration.
In addition to this, there was another training day offered by Mrs. Sumathi to teach 30 women how to value add to their millet products. Also, 5 seed banks were established over the course of the project. The monsoon rains were better than expected and allowed the farmers to earn an income from their farming activities. The project achieved its goal and created a larger impact than anticipated.
Fund-raising activities, donations, tithes and pledges to Permaculture Australia’s Permafund are warmly welcomed and are supporting community projects like this in Australia, Asia, Africa and the Pacific. One off or recurring tax-deductible donations to Permafund can be made here. Many thanks.
For the past 18 months, a group of Permaculture Educators has been working hard to complete the 5-yearly review of Permaculture in conjunction with Skills Impact, who are the Skills Service Organisation that manages the AHC – Agriculture, Horticulture & Conservation and Ecosystem Management – Training Package of which Permaculture is a part. There have been many opportunities for engagement with this process and lots of you have participated which is great as it means the resulting Units, Qualifications and Skill Sets will be ‘fit for purpose’. It also means that you will have the chance to participate in and benefit from the roll out of the reviewed courses, if you wish.
Training providers, including those offering the PDC, might be interested in partnering with RTOs to offer some components of this training There will be funding available for some programs in some States There will be opportunities for those with current qualifications (including Certificate IV in Training and Assessment) to deliver this training There will also be opportunities to work with the Education Team of Permaculture Australia to update assessment tools and training materials And of course there will be opportunities for study and professional development
In a nutshell, here are the main components resulting from the Review: 5 reviewed qualifications 48 units of competency 13 skill sets
It is exciting to note that many of the barriers between the PDC and the accredited training have been removed, and it is now much easier for teachers and trainers to find work in the accredited system (with a TAE qualification, of course). It is also exciting to note that two of the new skill sets have been specifically developed to bridge gaps:
Permaculture Designer Skill Set – corresponds to the core skills and knowledge of the PDC This skill set describes the skills and knowledge for working with clients and community to design and develop private, community or enterprise based permaculture systems in rural and urban environments. Comprised of units: AHCPER401 Provide advice on permaculture principles and practices AHCPER402 Design a rural permaculture system AHCPER403 Design an urban permaculture system AHCPER4X3 Select ‘appropriate technology’ for a permaculture system AHCPER406 Identify and analyse bioregional characteristics and resources
Advanced Permaculture Skill Set – bridges the gap between Diploma of Permaculture and Bachelor Degree in the Higher Education system This skill set describes advanced skills and knowledge to help individuals to transition into higher education. The units provide skills and knowledge for planning community governance and developing strategic plans for permaculture projects. Comprised of units: AHCPER6X1 Develop a strategic plan for a permaculture project or enterprise AHCPER6X2 Plan community governance and decision-making processes
AHCPER6X3 Prepare a sustainable community and bioregional development strategy
The timeline for the roll out depends on the government processes, but we anticipate that the newly endorsed courses will be available from early 2023. If you are interested in the process or want to familiarise yourself with what has been done, please go to the Skills Impact project page and click through to the areas that interest you. You can find the documents that correspond to earlier stages in the process by clicking on the arrows in the flow chart.
And our amazing professional training consultants from Skills Impact Ruth Geldard, Industry Skills Standards Specialist, Skills Impact Ron Barrow, Writer, Skills Impact and Nestor Consulting
We all look forward to rolling out our new courses and to energetic participation and enthusiasm from permies everywhere. For further information on the Review and the new components, please contact email@example.com
Elmer Sayre is a permie on the island of Mindanao in the Phillipines . His application for WAND (Water, Agroforestry, Nutrition and Development Foundation) secured a $2000 grant to teach two PDCs, and also raise thousands of seedlings with farmers so they can grow timber and food as well as sustain a community seed bank. To support the application, Elmer supplied evidence of previous projects which included Ecosan – a composting toilet, a tree planting project (with accompanying manual), worm composting, vegetable growing and water conservation. Elmer also gave us a long and in-depth talk on WAND’s work and context which began as a routine background-check interview over Zoom. Mindanao has about the same population as Australia, but as its population is 70 times denser the farming strategies are different.
Elmer explains: “The farming situation in our area is small farms that we need to develop into a diverse system utilising local inputs. The government might promote tree planting but the farmers say ‘How can we get income from that?’ The smaller ones want short-term income. So we say, you plant vegetables, plant bananas and in nine months you have a harvest, root crops in seven months you can harvest, green leafy vegetables in two or free weeks. Increasing their economic base. Pigs, free-range chickens, they don’t grow big like commercial ones but they are okay”. The plan is to grow trees for fruit, timber, and seed as well as foods including bananas, sweet potato, and cassava. With the two PDC trainings, the goal is to have an exponential increase in food production as farmers will be using heirloom and open-pollinated varieties. Fertility will come from vermicompost, composted humanure, goat poo, and biochar from rice hulls. Existing practices will be first be documented and photographed, then compared with post- project snapshots for evaluation. Results will be shared with other Permafund projects.
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 byAndrew 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.
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.
He was tireless in his service to, and ‘needling of’ permaculture and its design process. Dan is sadly missed as a fearless questioner, a passionate connector, and strong and fragile a spirit as the living systems he loved.
Donations of support for his young family can be made at GO FUND ME
If you, or if someone you know is struggling with mental health, don’t wait – get help now. Talk to a friend, reach out and visit to Beyond Blue
Fences are often necessary for privacy, security and the safety of pets and children. As Mara Ripani explains, there are myriad ways to create them with plants, adding extra greenery to our built environment.
With populations increasing and cities and towns growing, we need to take every opportunity to introduce green into our built environment: ‘rewilding’ our surroundings, even in small ways. A living fence is a simple and effective way to start. There are many approaches to creating a living fence: what they all have in common is a thriving explosion of plants!
What is a living fence? Fences are commonly used for creating privacy (both visual privacy and by preventing access), for keeping pets and children contained and safe, and simply for marking property boundaries. With a bit of planning, all of these requirements can be fulfilled with a living fence: one that is made using plants on their own or by combining plants with an appropriate structure. Depending on its main purpose, the space available and your aesthetic preference, a living fence can take the form of closely-planted clumping grasses, a hedge created from shrubs, a line of small trees or espaliered fruit trees, or a cascade of tendrils and flowers from a climbing vine – to name just a few possibilities.
Why choose a living fence? No matter how small your property, if there is room for a fence then there is probably room for a living fence. Well-kept living fences are extremely beautiful. Evergreen plants provide a verdant wall to look at all year round. Climbing plants with flowers provide colour, interest and architectural shapes to admire. A living fence is an extension of your garden, allowing you to layer greenery to create depth and texture. And if you already have a standard fence, you can breathe life into it with a climbing plant.
Cooling microclimates While living fences add a great deal of beauty, they can also help green our cities and create cool microclimates. Built-up urban areas are prone to the urban heat island effect: dense concentrations of pavement, buildings and other thermal mass surfaces absorb daytime heat, releasing it again at night. As a result, ambient temperatures can increase by one to three degrees Celsius. Greening infrastructure projects large and small, including living fences, can help counter this effect through the plants’ natural transpiration.
How to choose plants for a living fence When deciding on the style and plant selection for your living fence, consider its purpose, maintenance requirements, and how it will fit into your existing garden. Whether you opt for native or non-native species, always ensure you avoid species considered invasive in your area. Be careful
that your living fence does not impede communal walking paths, and consider traffic sightlines where necessary – especially for cars exiting driveways.
Grasses If your main priority is boundary marking, a living fence can be as simple as planting a row of ornamental grasses. There are many choices: Poa labillardierei (Common Tussock-grass) Pennisetum alopecuroides (Chinese Fountain grass), Lomandra hystrix (Green Mat-rush,) Miscanthus sinensis (Chinese Silver grass), Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem) to name but a few. Be sure to choose perennial grasses that will live year after year, either evergreen or grasses that will dry to a sandy or copper colour, marking the changing seasons. Some grasses have spiky foliage or sharp edges hence consider their appropriateness. Grasses can be cut back in late winter or left uncut for a few years. When cut back they reappear as vibrant green tufts in spring.
Shrubs Privacy and safety for children and pets can be achieved with shrubs planted to make hedges (though note that hedges need dense foliage or supplementing with a wire fence to reliably contain small pets). There are many shrubs to choose from, and garden nurseries offer plenty of information on the growing requirements of plants to help you make your selection. Look for plants in the following genuses Acacia, Westringia, Acmena, Yew, Thuja, and Laurel to name but a mere few. Search for plants that suit your soil type and climate, and be sure to check the height, width and growth rate. Fast-growing hedges will establish quickly but need more frequent pruning, watering and compost. Slower-growing hedges can take years to establish but will then need less maintenance. Also consider colour, foliage texture, and whether you’d prefer evergreen or deciduous. An evergreen shrub will stay green all year round, while deciduous species will change colour before (usually) dropping their leaves. For example, Berberis thunbergia (Japanese Barberry) is a deciduous shrub that goes from green to bright red foliage in autumn. For silver foliage try Westringia fruticose (Native Rosemary(, Teucrium fruticans Tree Garmander), or Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Sheen’ (Pittosporum Silver Sheen)
Trees A line of small trees can also be used to create a fence, or to green an existing fence line. A popular choice is any tree in the conifer family with a tall, narrow form; plant them as close as planting instructions will allow. For an ‘edible fence’, you can espalier fruit trees. Espaliering is easy to do, saves space and allows even small garden owners to access seasonal fruit. Buy bare-rooted trees and plant in winter, and explore the many instructional videos on different espaliering techniques available online.
Climbing vines Climbing vines on a structural support can form a fence for privacy and for containing animals and kids. Choose evergreen plants for year-round screening or deciduous ones for a flash of autumn red followed by bare branches. You can use metal mesh or tensioned wire on a structural frame or a
wooden fence to support your vines; remember that climbing plants are heavy once established so make sure the structure is able to support the weight. There are many fantastic climbing plants to choose from. The evergreen Hardenbergia violacea (Purple Coral Pea )produces a mass of gorgeous purple pea flowers. Pyrostegia venusta (Golden Shower) has stunning orange trumpet flowers and climbing tendrils. Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star Jasmine’s)’ sweet fragrance, Rosa banksiae’s (Lady Banks Rose) rose clusters and the tiny fairylike leaves of Muehlenbeckia complexa (Maidenhair Vine) are all attractive options. If your home or rental property has an existing brick or masonry fence then try Parthenocissus tricuspidata(Boston Ivy) with its burnt red autumn leaves, or Ficus pumila’s (Creeping Fig’s) attractive juvenile leaves.
Before planting Whether you opt for grasses, shrubs, trees or climbers for your living fence, do your plant research. How will the plant grow? How will it change over time? What level of maintenance will it need? Will it drop leaves? Might its root system cause any long-term problems? While it is good to be aware of these things, however, don’t get overwhelmed: generally the value of a living fence far outweighs its care needs. And one final piece of advice: if establishing a new fence, it’s a good idea to do a property boundary search via your relevant state agency to ensure you’re putting the fence in the right place and not on your neighbour’s property. Whether you live in a city, a regional town or in the bush, infrastructure like fences is often necessary. Likewise, rewilding our living environments is important, and easy to do. A living fence is a great way to combine the two, and the benefits will be experienced by you and all that pass by.
With the help of a Permafund grant, Kajulu Hills Eco Village in Kenya has trained a number of residents of the Kakuma refugee camp in permaculture skills. Many people are born and grow up in this vast camp that’s been operating for 30 years and has an estimated 16,500 family compounds each with an average of 20 people.
One of the trainees, Marcelin Munga, is a member of the Farming & Health Education organisation (FHE) in partnership with Biologic Design which successfully applied for a Permafund grant to run a 4-day Treebog construction workshop for camp residents.
The Treebog’s innovative compost toilet design encloses the area below an elevated platform with two layers of wire mesh. Straw is stuffed between the two protective mesh layers to act as a visual screen for the first year’s use plus to allow airflow, soak up excess urine and stop odours. Carbon-rich organic matter is sprinkled on the above-ground pile after each use. The resultant nutrient seepage fertilises food trees planted intensively around the Treebog, e.g. bananas and papayas that fruit two years after construction. A rainwater tank collects runoff from the roof for a hand washing station next to the Treebog.
Jay Abrahams of Biologic Design UK, who designed, created, and developed the Treebog, hopes that the skills and knowledge required to build one can spread throughout the Kakuma camp and beyond.
He says “The Treebog is a very good example of permaculture design in action. It shows how by placing the components in mutually beneficial locations the “problem’ of the toilet wastes, becomes the source of the solution: a regenerative, resource creating, tree-growing, sanitation system. The Treebog is a simple, Regenerative Sanitation or ‘W.A.S.H.’ System. It provides sanitary compost toilet facilities, where the human waste and handwash water are considered to be a resource to be used – not a problem to be disposed of!”
“The Treebog is not a long drop toilet” he explains, “as there is no pit required underneath. The Treebog is an aerobic compost pile that simply sits on the soil surface underneath the platform. The compost pile is surrounded by the enclosed base as well as the trees that are planted around the structure, so the liquids soak into the soil underneath the Treebog and into the root zone. As there is no pit underneath, this helps to protect groundwater from pollution.”
It’s estimated there are around 1,500 Treebogs in use in the UK. Other projects have introduced the technology elsewhere in Africa and in Asia.
Support for projects like this by the Permafund grant program is made possible because of the generous donations received from individuals, families, permaculture groups, businesses, and community fundraisers.
Over the past 10 years, Permafund grants have benefited 58 environmental, community-building, and permaculture education projects in Australia and 15 other countries around the world.
Donations and recurring contributions to Permafund can be made here through the ‘Give’ portal on the Permaculture Australia website. Donations of $2.00 or more are tax-deductible in Australia. All donations and contributions are warmly welcomed.
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.