The Wildsmith’s Permablitz

Written by Alexis Wildsmith

Our story...

Our adventure into permaculture only started in June last year (2018). Due to complications, I was on strict bed rest for the second half of my pregnancy so I thought what better time to do some research and planning around living more sustainably as a family! I made a post on the Zero Waste Tasmania Facebook group  asking for suggestions and a couple of people recommended looking into permaculture. I’d literally never heard of “permaculture” before, but after a quick google, I was hooked. The ethics and principles strongly aligned with my personal values and I wanted to learn more. 

Our design…

We were extremely lucky to have my dad help us to buy a quarter acre block on the eastern shore of Hobart 5 years ago. We’d always planned on having a veggie patch but neither my partner or I had ever grown anything in our lives! I quickly felt overwhelmed by trying to figure out what should be planted where and when, so we decided to enlist the help of an expert. Hannah Moloney from Good Life Permaculture was amazing to work with and miraculously managed to fit everything on my crazy wishlist into the design. She was patient and never made me feel silly for being a total beginner. Our design is both beautiful and practical and is a work of art that our family treasures. 

Planning and preparing for the permablitz…

The eastern shore permaculture group has been actively meeting monthly since the start of this year thanks to the awesome efforts of our Permaculture Tasmania representative Katie. We were keen to get a series of blitz’s happening and being a relatively central urban block with a clear design, we decided our place would be a good guinea pig. Katie, and another Eastern Shore PT champion Serena, volunteered to be our coordinators for the day and that’s when the ball really started rolling! 

We decided that working on the food forest and filling the raised beds would be our main focus for the day, with some other smaller projects planned if we got through everything faster than anticipated. We also decided to try and limit numbers to around 20 people (including the facilitators and hosts) because of the small area and the couple of choke points on the block such as the side of the house when carting mulch etc. From there, it was a matter of spending a good few weeks collecting all the materials we would need (ie. straw, sheep poo, compost). Katie also shared a resources list in the Facebook group event for the blitz and we were astounded by the amount of stuff everyone offered to contribute. A few people who attended, propagated a whole bunch of different plants for the food forest, and we were gifted a heap of strawberry runners from the Southern Support School garden. 

As hosts, it was our job to feed everyone so I cooked up a big vegetarian curry and my partner made beef stew pies which we prepared the night before so everything was ready for the day. Gathering all the resources we needed was a big job and it was also tricky to know exactly how much we’d need of everything, but I think we did pretty well and everything we had left over is already being put to use.

On the day…

The morning was absolutely hectic! I’m pretty sure I was running on pure adrenaline. It was nerve racking preparing food for 20 people and making sure the house was somewhat presentable (which is no small feat with a 1 year old in tow). Katie and Serena came over at 9am and helped with the finishing touches, and when everyone started arriving at 10am I felt instantly at ease. Everyone was so lovely and the vibe was great. Once everyone arrived, we gathered together and had an acknowledgement of country and everyone introduced themselves and said what their favourite productive plant was. It was a great ice breaker! Katie and Serena then explained the projects for the day and off everyone went!

Rear of yard before permablitz

As the host, I was in and out of the house all day organising food and drinks, but every time I came outside I was amazed at how fast things were progressing. Every person who attended had a great “can do” attitude and got stuck into whatever they were tasked with doing. The weather was all over the place but luckily the rain held off. Lunch went down a treat and then everyone went back to work until we wrapped up at about 4pm. 

The transformation was absolutely breathtaking and I was overcome with gratitude for everybody’s commitment and hard work. Once the gloves were off, we sat back and had a beer and admired the new view. We went to bed that night feeling exhausted but inspired and energised. 

A young food forest with chicken tunnel hugging the fence; post-permablitz.

The aftermath…

It’s been nearly two weeks since the blitz and everything is still alive (well, mostly)! It’s a joy to go outside now and see everything growing and thriving. We’ve been diligent with watering but it’s definitely made us realise how important it is to collect rainwater off every possible surface so that’s our next project. 

There is no way we could have done anything like this by ourselves. It would have taken us years to get the food forest together and because of kids, work, life etc., all of our garden progress was slow. This has given us the kickstart we needed and now we can build on something great. We are so lucky to live where we do and growing our garden is our way of giving back to the earth and our community. We can’t wait to share our produce and get stuck into other people’s gardens. A huge thank you to Permaculture Tasmania and every person who made our Permablitz happen! 

Raised beds before and after.

Images Source: Alexis Wildsmith. See more at Where the Wildsmiths Are