“Starting a garden without a design will end in tears as surely as starting a renovation project without a plan. The design should answer questions about sun and shade, wildlife, proximity and access, water, organic matter and nutrient cycling, local seasons, crops, and weather. The answers will be different in every situation but the principles are the same.” Linda Woodrow
By the end of my year of studying Certificate IV Permaculture study via Tafe NSW Digital online I will have created a permaculture design, thus the final get-to-know-you assignment question…
Q. Describe the property you are planning on doing your permaculture design. Are you doing doing a rural or an urban design?
I’m planning on doing an urban permaculture design; applying it to our 822 sqm residential block in the hinterland village of Taylors Arm located in the Nambucca Valley on the Mid North/Coffs Coast of NSW.
Our three-bedroom house was constructed in the 1930’s of asbestos fibro, corrugated iron roof, with wide verandahs oriented north-east, 1980’s HardiPlank weatherboard addition, and recent garage and two carports.
The yard is planted with several existing gardens and a variety of trees and shrubs: a mixture of inherited planting; our own, low maintenance bird-bee-butterfly habitat intended to survive our absence and passively cool the house; the remainder is mowed grass.
The property has a north east aspect and the block slopes gently down to the north west.
Bureau of Meteorology Climate Zone: Subtropical, distinctly dry winter.
Australia Building Codes Board Climate Zone: 2, warm humid summer, mild winter.
Köppen Climate Classification: Cfa – humid subtropical.
The native soil profile of the block comprises a significant C horizon predominantly ridge gravel, B horizon of clay, with a thin A horizon and a bare O horizon
Our water supply comes via the sky and all roof areas into 4 rainwater tanks holding approximately 36000 litres/8000 gallons, although in a water emergency we have infrastructure to pump from the adjacent river via a neighbour’s line.
Our water use is conservative and we reuse as much water as we practically can: toilet, bathroom sink and shower waste water is directed into a septic tank; an occasionally-used bathtub runs into the front garden, washing machine water is hooked up to a hose and sprinkler in the front yard; kitchen sink water is diverted into two 20 litre containers used daily to hand water the vegetable and herb garden.
When we returned after our 2016 travels to live here permanently, we built a 28 sqm vegetable garden cage in the backyard -because dog, possums, bandicoots, birds- with inground planting areas and raised beds which were filled with media we created by combining soil from the neighbouring vacant field, straw, newspaper, Dinofert Organic Fertiliser and composted organic material.
In 2017 we began sharing a flock of chickens with our neighbour. Their coop is in the back corner of her yard, which we access via a common area at the rear of the properties where we have also built a compost pile, maintain an intentionally biodiverse weedy-scrubby bird-bee-butterfly belt as well as mowed grass area which gives us access to the nearby churchyard where I collect straw for the chicken coop after its grass has been slashed.
Recently we constructed from recycled materials a compact glass house/potting shed so I have a place to start seedlings, propagate and grow year-round.
“Permaculture is that art of the possible.”
~Graham Bell, ‘The Permaculture Garden”
What do you think? Thoughts and suggestions welcome.
Even studying online, students get to answer the usual get-to-know-you classroom questions.
Q. What you want to achieve by doing this course?
Initially, from this course I want to achieve: greater familiarity and understanding about permaculture; how to observe; some proficiency in permaculture design; how to promote and apply permaculture ethics and principles personally, locally and globally.
One of the first of Bill Mollison’s key insights I read was:
“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action…”
Which speaks to a bothersome personal consideration… pragmatic motivation behind our move from city working life to a simple, creative rural village lifestyle: health. Aged in our mid 50’s and mid 60’s respectively both myself and G.O. husband have orthopaedic issues which limit the type & duration of physical activities we comfortably manage. We do what we want to do but we need to work smarter not harder.
Practically, from this course I would like achieve an improvement to our property’s water strategy, accomplish more productive use of the property, and ultimately realise a permaculture design across the entire property.
Since 2011 I’ve been utilising various social media platforms; a member of online, blogging, Instagram and Facebook communities, sharing thoughts, dreams, ideas, information, inspiration and our journey. The manifesto of my personal blog @daleleelife101 is Live Simple Home Made Grown Local Creative Better.
A long-time supporter of local and farmers markets, after considerable deliberation whether to participate in a selling capacity while despairing of hyper-consumerism, I’ve recently decided to take @daleleelife101 into the real world in the form of a much needed stallholder at our local village markets, primarily to support the community but also as a tangible means to walk my talk… I would like to achieve from this course a productive permaculture garden that contributes useful and inspirational garden produce and seeds excess to our household needs.
Personally, from this course I would like to expand my scope, to become a permaculture advocate.
Foremost, by studying and adopting permaculture practices I aim to follow Mahatma Gandhi’s advice: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
“If you give up on trying to change larger structures and just go off on what some would say is a personal indulgence or being a survivalist, it can be seen as incredibly negative or pessimistic. But the other way to think of it is this: through manifesting the way we live and acting as if it’s normal, you’re defending yourself against depression and dysfunction, but you’re also providing a model that others can copy. And that is absolutely about bringing large-scale change…” is reassuring testimony from David Holmgren.
What have you achieved, or do you hope to achieve through permaculture?
What is permaculture, you ask, as I did and found out it wasn’t what I thought it was, but more.
Permaculture is a word originally coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the mid 1970’s to describe an “integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man.” ~ holmgren.com.au
However, befittingly, permaculture and therefore the definition of what it is, is ever evolving.
A fortnight ago I began my year of online Certificate IV Permaculture study via Tafe NSW Digital. Studying online, I discovered, involves a lot of writing. Fortunately, I like writing, and it’s one of the things I missed having time to do over the past couple of years while I commuted to and attended face-to-face horticulture classes at Tafe NSW. During that time I shared snippets of my horticulture studies experience pictorially via daily Instagram posts.
This year of study, I think, might lend itself to some blog posts… if you would like to follow my permaculture journey.
The first get-to-know-you assignment question…
Q. What attracts you to permaculture? You can also mention how you found out about permaculture and what permaculture experience you have had if you like.
A. After living and working fulltime in Sydney for the decade it took us -husband and me- to be financially prepared, living as sustainably as you can in a rented one bedroom apartment in a concrete neighbourhood immediately adjacent to a train line in the inner-west outskirts of the inner-city 2.5 kms from the CBD… keeping the faith by diligently supporting farmers markets and practising living lightly, connecting with and being informed and inspired by many like-minded people, travelling back and forth -1000 km roundtrip- on public holiday long weekends and summer vacations to our small residential property in a rural village on the Mid North/Coffs Coast… three and a half years ago we tree-changed to live there fulltime with the intention of being as self-reliant as possible.
After taking a holiday break when we travelled around Australia in 2016, I began studying fulltime in 2017 while looking for a new direction; following a dream to live simply, creatively, have a garden, and study horticulture but unsure where the direction would lead me.
I completed Certificate II Horticulture in June 2019, Certificate III Production Horticulture in 2018 and Certificate III Horticulture in 2017 at Tafe NSW, Coffs Harbour Education Campus.
A long-time follower of online media: websites; e-newsletters; social media; any sort of information and communication, I had gleaned a perception of commodified – buy this book, pay to attend that course- permaculture… somewhat misconstrued as it turns out.
The actuality of permaculture as a philosophy and available every-person liveable culture became apparent after not too much research when a deeper interest was piqued upon serendipitous discovery of its offering as a Tafe NSW online course; the list of course units hinting there was more to permaculture than I had believed… beginning with design.
What I discovered was both broader and more nuanced than I had understood before my further reading revealed permaculture’s concertina-like scope confers it traction in every context of day-to-day life, and the personal revelation that permaculture is holistic and inclusive of what I had considered were my assorted interests – environmental sustainability & stewardship, resource and land conservation, regenerative horticulture & agriculture, organics, biodynamics, gardening, living sustainably, local community- but offers much more: not a counterculture but an egalitarian toolkit.
“One of the most important things about permaculture is that it is founded on a series of principles that can be applied to any circumstance—agriculture, urban design, or the art of living. The core of the principles is the working relationships and connections between all things.”
― Juliana Birnbaum Fox, Sustainable Revolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide
What attracts you to permaculture?
I’m preparing to launch @daleleelife101 -and myself- as a stallholder into the world of local markets. A long-term patron of local markets… and not so local… we visited our fair share of markets when we travelled around Australia in 2016… for years I have bored the G.O. witless with my to-ing and fro-ing on the possibility of realising my dream of having my own stall. On the one hand there is -I believe- too much gratuitous consumer stuff being thrust at us these days. On the other hand, I derive great satisfaction from creating simple inexpensive household and personal products. Finally it came down to monkey see monkey do: I hope to inspire others with my manifesto… #LiveSimpleHomeMadeGrownLocalCreativeBetter.
As soon as we tree-changed from city to country three and a half years ago I began working on our mission statement to… “follow our dream of living simply and creatively” by making as many food, household and personal items as my time and talents allow… simple seasonal condiments and preserves, flavoured salts, dried herbs, tea, cleaning products, deodorant, fragrance… some of which as well as plants and seeds will translate to a market stall, and hopefully -time and talent allowing- I’ll be inspired to try my hand at some new creative projects.
After realising another dream -studying Horticulture at Tafe NSW which involved me driving 160 km roundtrip to and from Coffs Harbour twice a week for two and a half years during semester time- I’ve turned my focus to home, studying Certificate IV Permaculture via Tafe NSW Digital… a commitment of additional course hours but no commute, hopefully scope for further creativity.
A multitude of ideas and options crisscross my mind but I keep returning to the intention… keep it real. Other than investing in a small selection of beautiful and reusable amber glass bottles all other bottles and jars are recycled as well as reusable, keeping plastic as much as possible to a minimum.
After I complete a Food Safety Supervision training course in early August, my plan is to begin with the next local Taylors Arm markets, held our lovely old village hall. I’ve persuaded -I hope- a couple of neighbours -a baker and a maker- and maybe the G.O. to have a go as well. Part of the motivation that finally prompted me to act is my wish for a successful & regular village market. More stallholders are needed… be the change you want to see in your community.
“Don’t underestimate the power of your vision to change the world. Whether that world is your office, your community, an industry or a global movement, you need to have a core belief that what you contribute can fundamentally change the paradigm or way of thinking about problems.” Leroy Hood
“Village life gently swirled around them, with the perpetual ebb and flow of people, scurrying in every direction. The village was a living, organic entity, with blood flowing through its veins, and with a definite pulse and heartbeat. It had its own distinct personality and its own dark caustic humour, and was constantly processing and regurgitating information through its winding, meandering streets.”
As I wandered home via the bakery to grab a sourdough loaf and croissant, and walked along King Street, Newtown I noticed a new item of paste up street art.
A timely reminder, it vindicated the choices I’d made about today.
2012 has slipped by. In a couple of weeks I’ll have been blogging for a year. I’m not going to write [yet] another post about why I love blogging. That I’m still doing it is testimony enough. And then there are the bloggers who have become an extended part of my household via their blogs I read & comment on as they do mine…
The past year has seen subtle change, shifting and settling for me. I am no longer constrained by time and space. I exist happily physically more than I ever have, connected virtually with people who have the care and interest to participate in a global community.
Nothing will change how we coexist with family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and people on the street, but I believe we are amongst the forerunners of a connected, informed convergence interrelating within another but no less real dimension.
Bloggers, not with the intention of imposing but simply by sharing their thoughts, questions, perspectives, lives, opinions, experiences and expertise are stepping away from pay-for-say and mono-cultural society commanded by governments and big business served by commercial media and advertising, into a powerful but subtle authentic collective.
elladee_words started simply as an outlet of expression for my frustrated spirit, and as my spirit unwound my eyes opened and the elladee_images blog happened, underwritten by the credo “There is art in the everyday. It’s easy to walk through the world and not see. Time moves on. Things change. I’m taking the time to look & stop & capture moments & colours of ordinary things & day-to-day life in snapshots.” The commenters and followers of these blogs were the first to expand my world and elladee_places was my effort at reciprocation.
merci mes amis
The WordPress community is my home away from home. It rewards me every day with inspiration, laughter, stories, camaraderie, wisdom and a glimpse into others lives. Occasionally I’m rewarded with award nominations.
Early June, Blessed with a Star on the Forehead nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award & Very Inspiring Blogger Award, at a time I’d accomplished the not-so-mean-feat of responding to a flurry of award nominations. I set the nominations with the kitchen herbs while I regrouped, and waving the watering can over them last week spotted new blooms. Check out Blessed with a Star on the Forehead, it’s a beautiful, entertaining, heartfelt blog.
Afterwards, I discovered in a jewellery box with Diamonds & Pearls, a Sunshine Award nomination circa mid June from Richard Guest. Richard’s images with clever commentary and song titles elucidate people and London.
Later, I extracted from my bookshelf in the holding spacefor her much anticipated novel, a mid-June vintage pick-a-box of award nominations from Robin Coyle – Kreativ Blogger, Reader Appreciation, Tag! You’re It!
Generic award posting rules encompass: acknowledge & notify the nominator; state a varying number of things about yourself; nominate similar number of deserving bloggers; and contact them to notify the nomination. Notifications I believe, have become quite unfashionable, and I do have my fashionable reputation to think of, so I’m hoping pingbacks will take care of it.
The blogs below, some nominated previously and some not, are deserving of all or any they choose of the above awards if they don’t have them already, or even if they do. Regardless, they are worth a visit.
Lastly, inspired by dodging commas‘ “I am” post, I’ve been playing with I am, and extracted a selection to cover the things about me feature of the rules.
I am from lives past and from eras not yet here.
I am from taupe paddocks and midnight blue mountain ranges.
I am from family loving, imperfect, loved.
I am from beliefs, grief and silence.
I am from provincial, industrious, commonplace culinary.
I am from tennis playing, town visiting, football barracking.
I am from beach walking, shell collecting, rock pool gazing.
I am from photograph album memories.
I am from sisters… finally.
I am from music on the radio, and books, endless books.
I am from reminiscing, stories, recipes.
I am from cat loving, dog devoted, missing.
I am from city, assimilated, animate, mundane.
I am from faith, tested, wavering and winning.
I am from true, tried undiminished love.
I am from words, images, ideas discovering.
I am from new world connected, wireless, timeless.
…You’re our reward
You’re our reward…
I’ve been merrily posting while ignoring this, the last item in my to-do pile. I was tagged by http://maggiemaeijustsaythis.wordpress.com in a get-to-know-other-bloggers post. Much as I love promoting other bloggers, I’m glad to have reached this point, as the neat freak aspect of my personality hates loose ends.
1. Acknowledge the tagger.
2. Post the rules.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven questions to ask people you’ve tagged.
4. Tag eleven people and link them to your post.
5. Let them know you tagged them.
The 11 questions Maggie Mae asked:
- What does your favorite outfit consist of? Pretty much what I change into as soon as I get home from work – old jeans, t-shirt & havvies. In Winter substitute uggies for the havvies & add a flannie. Yep, I’m all style!
- Do you like Ice Cream? Not particularly thank goodness because I don’t need any more bad habits, but if I go to http://www.pasticceriapapa.com.au I’ll have a scoop of their divine plain gelato.
- What is a holiday tradition for you? Escape the city to our house up north, relax with a G.O. bbq dinner and a glass or 2 of wine.
- Who is the closest person to you in your life? Me. Wherever I go, there I am.
- What is your biggest goal? Be happy.
- What have you done to work toward achieving this goal? Practice makes perfect.
- How do you feel about spelling? The neat freakiness extends to spelling but I try to chill & focus on what I’m reading not spelling errors.
- Do you like vehicles? Life’s a journey, so yes.
- Significant other? My silent (& sometimes eye rolling, refuge seeking) blog partner, the G.O.
- What is the easiest decision you have ever made? See #5.
- What is the saddest day that you remember having? See #6.
From this point I’m going to
deviate from get imaginative with the rules. I like to follow the award/tag game to a point as I believe it’s a good way (especially now given the changes to the Topics functionality) to find excellent bloggers, and how better to do it, than via recommendations from a blogger you follow, but all the responding, tagging & linking can be draining, and isn’t for everyone…
*So, EllaDee’s Rules:
1. Acknowledge the tagger.
2. Post the rules, any rules.
3. Copy my 11 questions & add your own answers, or make up questions & answers of your own.
4. Include links to any amount of blogs you choose for whatever reason you choose, let them know you tagged them or rely on pingbacks.
5. Do none of the above.
These are links to my most recent follows. I’m tagging them as they are fresh & new to me. Some found me & some I found via other bloggers’ award nominations. Stop by and say hi 🙂
It became apparent this week that I: live in a bubble of sameoldsameold – park, train, city, office, apartment, neighbourhood; am on a first name basis with more cats in my neighbourhood than I am people; love taking random photos but the love disappears when I feel obliged.
Inspired by a magic feeling at the cusp of the afternoon & evening last Friday I opened my eyes and embarked via elladee_images to post a daily photo journal of my everyday, and having completed the week I can say it was tough. I got lucky with a few photos but on Wednesday resorted to Photoshop “exalt the mundane” (thank you The Wanderlust Gene), and by Thursday I was over it.
On Tuesday I indulged in a brief soap box moment but in 2D the everyday is flat, and in order to savour, some days survive the everyday and for it to be truly a life, I need to engage all 6 senses.
While many aspects of the week were photographable, possibly supplementing them with words will still serve only to describe rather than truly convey:
- Hope in my heart & soul every circuit I make of the park lake and see mother swan on their nest.
- Pleasure of early morning walks, greeting the day, enjoying the space, sunshine & crisp air, bird song, other people out & about, happy dogs, hungry water birds.
- Delight with which Ginger Boy, our street’s by-choice-homeless cat, greeted us, gave us pats & devoured his dinner, and the softness of his fur.
- Fragrance of the ginger flower at the doorway to the communal garden.
- Simple joy of having access to abundant fresh basil to embellish our dinners.
- Satisfaction of the G.O. & I combining our talents to make an Autumnal casserole & mashed potato, and savouring the tastes of our masterpiece.
- Old fashioned kitchen smells when baking vanilla biccies.
- Childlike awe watching a crystal orb in the sunlight make rainbows dance around the room.
- Happiness of Jasper the black lab seeing us as we pause on our way home from the train station to play games through the gate of tug-o-war & fetch with his dirty, smelly, disgusting, chewed plastic-bottle-stuffed-inside-a-knitted-sock toy.
- George, our cat friend’s recognition “it’s you!” as we stop so he can rub himself all over our feet & legs and walk away dragging him attached to our ankles down the street.
- Miaows & joy with which Jasmine another of our cat friends greets us… and the many welcomes from the neighbourhood cats of our attentions.
- Laughter & conversation of a dinner date with Mrs S. and a happy, lingering feeling of friendship.
- Camaraderie of a simple shared lunch with work colleagues, more laughter and necessary workshopping of idiotic behaviour.
- Smiling, catching a glimpse through the throng of commuters of the G.O.’s fluoro orange jacket waiting for me at the top of the train station’s stairs.
- Gut reaction of how wrong it was for so many people to be lined up to purchase lotto tickets when the patient volunteers for the Australia Paralympic Committee sat ignored.
- Awful feeling of watching, waiting in case I had to intervene, and the conflicting urges to berate the useless dog owner who couldn’t call off “Woossy” the hunting dog pursuing our cat friend George amongst the parked cars, or to be polite & not make a fuss as the dog owner had a toddler in tow.
- Frustration of a beautiful sunny day devolving to surviving a senseless battle with scheming colleagues through solidarity & integrity they lack, and a sense of triumph of the good guys winning, surpassed by exhaustion and a loitering sense of futility.
I’m glad the week is over, and I can resume normal what-when-&-how-I-feel-like-it transmission.
I did take away a motto, “one day bats & butterflies flew outa my toaster I didn’t know what else to do but smile”.
What else can you do?
* Quotation by Dr Seuss