Contributor: Alexia Thomsom Image source: Kym B & Alexia Thomson
It was such a fun picnic in the park with the Tamar/Launceston Group today! It was great to hear people talking about easy ways to propagate tomatoes, awesome sustainability podcasts and epic planting fails. Thanks so much to everyone for sharing this amazing, diverse range of plants, produce and preserves!
Clockwise from bottom left: rosemary, comfrey, banana
passionfruit, jerusalem artichoke, saltbush, purple climbing bean seeds,
onions, dill seed, okra, eggs, soap, rocket pesto, vietnamese mint and onion
One year after beginning our Bamboo adventure, I wrote an article that touched on how being introduced to Permaculture had not only transformed but certainly enhanced my understanding of how useful a plant, is Bamboo. The Permaculture principles opened my eyes as to how the plant was fundamental in a closed loop ideal. Though I’m not yet qualified to state with certainty or experience that Bamboo is a planet saver, I firmly believe it has more potential to do so, than most other living things – especially the human variety! That makes it a win/win investment in the future – Bamboo 101
In the words of Permaculture guru Geoff Lawton – “it’s easier to say what you CAN’T do with Bamboo than it is to say what you CAN” and certainly, the well established Permaculture farms in the northern states of Australia have included Bamboo as an integral part of their permaculture designs and with good reason.
I’m going to cite 3 species of Bamboo in this article, that I believe provide the permaculturalist with an abundance of sustainable resources, even if only one of each were planted. From garden stakes through food, furniture and shelter to name a few, the following species of Bamboo are ALL cold climate tolerant and non-invasive. That is they will all survive the harshest of Tasmanian winters and they are completely contained within their own footprint and won’t invade beyond.
Bambusa Oldhamii – Beyond doubt my first pick for inclusion in a Permaculture Design. This beast grows beyond 15mtrs high in tropical and sub-tropical locations yet will withstand temperatures down to around -10deg C. Because Tasmania lacks the intensity of a northern summer, insufficent heat and humidity will restrict the potential height here. Frankly, I can’t put a definite figure on it but all my research would indicate that more than half those heights will be the norm in this climate. Our two year old plantation is producing 3.5-4mtr culms so at this stage (given a 4 yr to full height prediction) we appear to be on track. Oldhamii will produce culms (poles) up to 100mm in diameter but we are predicting a little less. That provides plenty of options as a construction timber and once established, nature will present 15-20 of these per plant, per year for a lifetime. If building is not your thing, that’s a good supply of firewood or biomass for producing excellent biochar or biofuel for those advanced enough. The drought tolerance of Bamboo also creates a wonderful source of forage for stock in the dry times when fodder is scarce and new shoots are a much sought after human food! Throw in the fact that as a windbreak, this plant has few peers and you’ll begin to realise what an amazing plant this truly is.
Bambusa textilis Gracilis – also known as Slender Weavers Bamboo, Gracilis adds another dimension to the resources stable. Boasting most of the attributes of Oldhamii (not as high and smaller diameter culms), this plant can be used for weaving projects like screens, matting or cob foundation, due to its long internodes. It’s pretty blue tinged new shoots are also edible and as a privacy screen, there are few comparisons. Very fast growing and tough as nails in Tassie conditions.
Bambusa multiplex Alphonse Karr – this plant has been around in Tasmania for a while and is completely different in structure and appearance. Both Oldhamii and Gracilis boast upright green statures whereas Alphonse Karr has a more typical fanning shape boasting golden culms and decorative green stripes.
Multiplex varieties produce a massive number of culms which are useful as garden stakes, straws, biofuel or small craft projects. Some of the more rebellious of us might even remember there efficacy as a form of punishment in days gone by!! The foliage as always, is excellent stock forage and the plant can be a stand alone feature or part of a lovely hedging screen.
There is no doubt that Bamboo has a major role to play in any Permaculture Design. From wind protection to producing biofuel and countless applications in between, every bit of the plant is useful. Just a couple of other benefits are that a stand of Bamboo produces 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees and its CO2 sequestration is second to none.
It was once known as ‘the poor man’s timber’ but is known these days as the Miracle Plant!
Bamboo Van Diemen offer PT financial members 10% discount on workshops, plants from the nursery, 100% Biodegradable Bamboo Toothbrushes, and off your first Who Gives A Crap premium bamboo toilet paper order (delivered FREE to anyone south of the Midlands and from greater Launceston through towns on Bass Highway to Burnie). Small fees apply outside these areas.
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.
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
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!
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.
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…
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
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.
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.
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
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!
The Launceston/Tamar locals group lead role is currently vacant. If you are interested in working with awesome folk to promote and organise monthly skill share events and/or other activities in Launceston/Tamar, we would love to hear from you!
The position can be shared and will suit folk who are organised, are passionate about community and who have a strong interest in permaculture. And ideally be available to organise or co-organise at 4 – 6 activities or more.
Activities could be things like organising garden/permacuture property visits, surplus & seed swaps, approaching people through your existing networks or even just identifying skills that group members may already have and asking if they would be interested in sharing their knowledge. As Lead you can pursue ideas for activities that you come up with yourself or simply follow up group suggestions to make things happen.
Keen or want to know more? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently, the committee’s own Amy (VP) and Heather (Instagram) completed their permaculture teacher training with Hannah from Good Life Permaculture and Brenna Quinlan.
It was a week of huge breakthroughs and personal growth. The week was full of opportunities to learn to teach permaculture, as well as information on how to set-up your learning environment, how to teach to people with different learning styles and how to create a good, robust teaching plan to convey the information you need.
Keep an eye out for your local educators doing rad things in your local community.
Are you looking to create a more sustainable and resilient household?
Wondering how to retrofit your current home or circumstances?
Wanting to grow more food, reduce your energy use and enjoy a more satisfying, fulfilling life?
Looking to use the summer months to make some eco-friendly changes to your property?
Permaculture Tasmania is excited to be bringing to Beck Lowe to Hobart for a two (or three) day Retrosuburbia workshop. Beck is Retrosuburbia’s chief editor, project manager and education coordinator.
Workshop participants will undertake activities and exercises to help them assess their current situation and plan for the future as well as have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss various aspects of the book.
The workshop will be held at the Sustainability Learning Centre in Hobart on the Weekend of the 23rd and 24th of November. There is an add-on day on Monday the 25th for permaculture designers, educators, interior or landscape designers and anyone else who wants to work with these groundbreaking concepts in a professional capacity.
Tickets are strictly limited in order to provide a high-value, high-contact training environment so get yours here. Also, be sure your Permaculture Tasmania membership is current as the member discount is actually more than the cost of membership. Thanks, Beck!
If you have any questions, please get in touch via the contact page. Otherwise, we look forward to seeing you there!
We appointed two new life members (congratulations Hannah Moloney and Della Cooper) and welcomed two new Committee members.
Congratulations to the 2019/2020 Committee: Kym (President), Amy (V/P), Katie (Newsletter), Gordon (Events), Kim (Treasurer), Kristy (Secretary), Sherry (Public Officer) and Alexia (Membership). Thanks to our outgoing Committee members, Claudia and Steph.
1. Tell me about Tiger Hill Permaculture – how it began, why permaculture Well, while spending several years doing permaculture consulting work overseas on commercial and aid projects, I was always searching for a hill station where I could set up a project to assist locals with research and development toward permaculture. Getting access to land was no problem but getting funding was. I had studied for some time with other teachers around Australia and completed two PDCs and part of an accredited permaculture training. My father introduced me to permaculture and when I did my first PDC, that feeling of wanting to be part of global change resonated with me. When needing to get experience in the field I packed my bags and headed off overseas as I had a burning desire to work with other cultures and do aid work. Fortunately when I returned to Australia I worked toward finding that special place and started looking nation wide. As my fathers family were from Tasmania, I looked this far afield and found Tiger Hill to fit all my search needs. My dream was always to create an educational community no matter where the location. So I invested in myself and have started setting up Tiger Hill Permaculture as a farm forestry model based on permaculture design. Now I take up to 60 volunteers annually and teach them practical skills towards sustainable living. I am totally self funded from salary.
2. What permaculture principles are in action at THP? Major large scale water harvesting and storage systems, small scale water harvest and storage, gravity irrigation, capture and store food resources (preserving), companion planting, zoning, edge systems, recycling, organic food production, care for the earth, care for people, windbreak systems and multi-functional systems.
3. What are the greatest successes & challenges with THP? One of the greatest achievements is that we can grow up to 90% of our food resources here. The biggest challenge is the lack of full time participation as mostly we get people for 1 or 2 weeks which is not sustainable while I am working FIFO (fly in, fly out) from WA.
4. What is your favourite photo(s) of Tiger Hill Permaculture and why?
Photo 1: Chalet
Photo 2: Compost toilet
Photo 3: People Care
Photo 4: Catch and store energy
5. Why did you become a member of PT – and why do you think Permaculture is important for folks to get involved with? I had been doing so much work alone here and sometimes I forget there is a bigger group of people networking out there. We are finally getting some results here and now is the time to get workshops happening to showcase the results. I think it’s important for people to start making any shift towards more sustainable living. While governments don’t seem to be doing enough for supporting where our food comes from, sometimes we just have to do things ourselves. Change the thinking of one person at a time if it is necessary to start a cultural shift towards this permaculture design science.
6. Anything else you’d like folks to know? We accept help all year round and have started reaching out for long term interns (practical skills trainees). If people are interested to learn to project manage a project and consider share farming arrangements please get in touch with details on our website www.tigerhillpermaculture.net