News

Permaculture Tasmania (PT) in times of Covid-19

With Covid-19 we’re all having to change the way we engage with each other to ensure everyone stays safe. As per Tas govt. regulations, PT face to face activities have already ceased.

Many will be doing food swaps/barters or sharing of goods and services such as books, tools etc. through their networks, which is a big part of permaculture ethics & community. 
Please continue to follow Covid safety including hand hygiene (wash/sanitise before/after handling items), contactless drop/swap and not engaging in swaps at all if you are unwell or have potentially been exposed.

For a good explanation of how the virus can be transmitted via surfaces click here – it goes into decent depth about the risks for different surfaces.

Take into account the travel & ‘stay at home’ regulations that are in place and we encourage members to check out the Tas govt regulations when making decisions about what they can/can’t do safely.  https://www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/families-community/gatherings/gatherings-faqs

The PT Committee and local groups are working on a number of activities to keep folks engaged, share skills & knowledge, and continue building community resilience in the coming months. Stay tuned or get in touch sooner if you have an idea for activities too

Stay safe – and if any queries get in touch with the team via permaculturetasmania@gmail.com. Thanks for your support to PT and being a part of our great community 🙂

Cob Oven Workshop

Contributors: Lauren & Oberon Carter at Spiral Garden

In January we hosted a cob oven workshop in our backyard, organised by Permaculture Tasmania and run by the lovely Clare.

Ten participants learned all the practical goodness and healthy fun of building an oven with natural and secondhand materials we had carefully gathered from as close to home as possible.

We provided nourishment and helped out where we could. Feet danced to mix clay, sand, water and straw, and hands crafted smooth render into beautiful spirals. There is something a bit magical that happens with these sorts of goal-oriented, educational working bees, especially when everyone is dedicated to their task and ‘gets it’. Such good vibes.

There are plans to carry the group forward to help each other build ovens, and probably share some pizza too! We can’t wait to fire our oven when it’s ready in a week or so, and to create a space around our oven for us to enjoy our garden and each other.

Expressions of Interest – Annual General Meeting venue host

We are taking expressions of interest for a suitable venue to host our AGM this year in September. Do you have a wonderful venue you’d like to showcase?

The requirements to host the meeting are as follows:

Mandatory

  • Have good access to the venue for vehicles
  • Have enough parking area and an undercover area suitable to host at least 25 people comfortably.
  • Have steady internet access / range available to the area suitable for live stream (we have a dongle)
  • Have access to facilities (bathroom / toilet and kitchen sink)
  • Be in Tasmania
  • Property layout and philosophy is in line with permaculture values

Desirable

  • Have accommodation options, whether that be camping or indoor areas
  • Be able to host a small workshop / educational session as a point of interest
  • Be a current financial member of Permaculture Tasmania

Please email us to obtain an expression of interest form at permaculturetasmania@gmail.com – closing 29 February 2020.

Heemskirk Community Garden Permablitz

Contributor: Katie Kristensen
Photo sources: Serena King, Sam Ralph, WMNC, and Katie K

The Heemskirk Community Garden was on our permie group’s radar because for many of our members it is their closest community garden. Sadly, it was targeted by thieves last month and 6 trees were stolen from the August orchard planting. So a few of our group were really keen to lavish a little love on the garden to balance the scales.

Serena and I joined forces again to co-facilitate the day and found that working on a community space is a very different kind of ‘blitz.
Heemskirk Garden is a newly developing garden; located in Warrane and a project coordinated by the Warrane Mornington Neighbourhood Centre (WMNC), it has been transformed from an empty block to the pictures you will see below.

Make no mistake, this progress has involved a lot of discussions by WMNC with community members, relationship building and networking, grant applications for infrastructure to begin and then more applications to fund the elements that make a garden look like a garden; the lovely beds, awesome fruit trees and other plantings. The Heemskirk Community Garden started visibly coming together at the beginning of 2019. Initial research and planning started as far back as 2015.

Leah (WMNC’s Project Officer) was so lovely to work with. She balanced our enthusiasm for working on permie elements from the original plan with reminders that they are still in the process of creating a new working committee to guide the progress of the garden into the future.
Serena and I focused on the priority of helping to make the garden look loved and welcoming in its current form for the WMNC’s Community BBQ day (to bring folks into the garden and encourage more community engagement). And into that brief we were able to work a food forest section on one of their growing mounds.

Our blitz day in photos….

There were lots of weeds to tackle in the orchard rows and pockets! We wanted to get to all of them because each tree has been sponsored by individuals, groups, businesses and government reps with links to the community.

So much weeding happening throughout the orchard.
Luise approached getting these rows finished as a personal challenge.
Geoff and Gemma kept going on the pockets ‘til the last one had a weed free base.
Weeded orchard rows on the BBQ day (the day after).
Donated mosaic art pieces were installed at the sites of the stolen trees
until replacements are planted next year.
Before. Pocket orchard (taken a month ago during planning visit)
After. Orchard pockets now weed free.

We also sheet mulched part of a growing mound to start improving the soil for future plantings. One of our worker bees on the day had brought along some pigface so we also planted it here to start a living mulch cover until further decisions are made for this mound.

State of mound before.
Sara, Alexis, and Yayoi sheet mulching with smiles!
Sheet mulched section complete with pig face to start a living mulch.
The bulk of our lunch and snacks was catered for by Serena and generously complemented with produce from Paul (Tiger Hill Permaculture)
The bulk of our lunch and snacks was catered for by Serena and generously complemented with produce from Paul (Tiger Hill Permaculture)
Lunch break.

And the food forest… Serena and I are so grateful to Paul from Tiger Hill Permaculture who made the trip from Buckland to give us a hand with the day (with two of his current Help X’er’s in tow). Luise and Yayoi had collected a huge number of seedlings for us from Paul’s garden to plant out in the food forest and Paul brought his experience, which proved invaluable!

In hindsight it seems like such an obvious call but it wasn’t until we were discussing how we would plant out the growing mound that Paul suggested we start by creating swales on contour in the mound to help capture and slow down water and sink it in, rather than letting it run off the mound shape (as it would have). With his extensive earthworks experience, Paul dug out those swales on contour by eye, in what seemed like no time at all. They will have the water retention benefits but also the berms (upsides) created by the swales (dips) lend themselves to tripling the planting space – in their sides, along their top and of course in the swale itself. So good!

A pic of the mound taken a couple of months ago. (Photo Credit: WMNC)
Paul and Serena explaining the swales and food forest to the group
as Paul also made pretty short work of creating them.
Planting out.
Planting out started at the top.
Food forest section planted and mulched.
Food forest section from lower end of mound.

Massive thanks to everyone who came along and contributed time, labour, ideas, seeds, seedlings, food, tools, cheer and some great discussion. Extra extra special thanks to Paul (Ringo) for contributing all of the above! And to Serena, not only for her organisational prowess but for fueling us with the most incredible spread of food! 

This one was bigger than we expected but the takeaways for us were just as big.

Our top 5:

1. People really are incredibly awesome, creative, supportive and generous when working together towards a shared goal of creating community. It’s so good to be reminded of this again and again at these events.

2. Larger spaces can be deceptive, bank on much longer working times than we would think.

3. When it comes to out planting slopes – consider swales (on or off contour, depending on your soil type and purpose).

4. ‘Blitzes in community spaces are a more complex beast than a backyard permablitz.

5. Take a photo of the fantastic working group all together at the beginning so there is at least one with everyone together!

For great information on how to organise a Permablitz check out these resources and get in touch with your local group for support!

Tamar/Launceston Meetup & Surplus Swap

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 tops. 

Does Bamboo have a role in Permaculture?

Contributor Geoff Pyne (Bamboo Van Dieman)
Images source: Geoff Pyne

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.

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

Launceston/Tamar Locals Group Lead Vacancy

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 permaculturetasmania@gmail.com

Permaculture Teacher Training with Good Life

Contributor: Amy Buettel (PT Vice President)
Image Source: Good Life Permaculture

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.

Two-Day Retrosuburbia Workshop in Hobart

  • 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!