E-News - JANUARY 2021
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New Committee Member Olivia Holmes - Community Gardens Coordinator

I remember the mind-expanding experience of visiting a family friend’s permaculture property as a teenager and being asked to pick whatever herbs I liked to make my tea (I went with mint and lemon verbena). I was always building up to my own edible garden, with my “terrace tomatoes” which I watered and cared for by climbing through the kitchen window of my London flat. And the fruit trees in half wine barrels at a share house back in Perth.  Eleven years ago my husband and I planted many fruit trees and built wicking beds for vegetables.
It wasn’t until 10 years later that I finally booked myself in for a permaculture design course with PEAs in Mundaring. All of a sudden my interest in growing food, building community, conservation, homebirth, home education, yoga, renewables and solar passive design came together under one umbrella. It gave me the confidence and understanding to take it to the next level.
My current, favourite project is a community composting system for my street, with 6 compost bins out on the verge. We divert kitchen scraps from landfill and make rich soil for our garden. The unexpected benefit has been the community building, with neighbours stopping for a chat when they drop off their scraps. Earth care, people care and fair share all in one!
Tribute to the life of Gerald Shepperson written by Ross Mars

"Sad to hear that Gerald Shepperson has recently died. I had a lot of respect for him as I was navigating my way through the Permaculture world. Wrote this short piece.
Vale: Gerald Shepperson
Gerald Shepperson was 90 years old when he died on December 28, 2020. Gerald was a pillar and stalwart for the permaculture movement in WA. Gerald and June went to hear Bill Mollison speak at Murdoch University in 1978, and soon afterwards Gerald joined with a few people and the Permaculture Association of Western Australia (PAWA) was formed. He was actively involved in the Association from this time until the mid 2000’s and was the Convenor and a committee member for so many years. He was PAWA spokesperson and go-to contact and made it his job to fold and post out the newsletter – often up to 800 families had received this every two or three months – for as long as I can remember.
In those early days very few of the PAWA committee and key people in the organisation had undertaken a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) which is deemed to be a prerequisite for attendance at Permaculture Conferences. They all just got on with spreading the word. It wasn’t until the mid 90’s that Gerald finally did his PDC, which enabled him to attend the Sixth International Permaculture Conference and Convergence held in Perth in 1996. He was Convenor of PAWA at the time.
Gerald and June warmly welcomed visitors during the many open days at their property in Jandakot, freely given away cuttings, seeds, fruit, vegetables and plants. Gerald traveled all over WA and he was a frequent visitor to the Balingup and Dowerin field days, manning the stall and promoting the principles, practices and ethics of permaculture to all who would listen.
He was recognised as a Permaculture Elder at the Australian Permaculture Convergence (APC13) in Perth in 2016 for his lifelong contribution to permaculture in Australasia."

Nyoongar country spans from Leeman in the northwest to beyond Cape Arid in the southeast, in the southwest of Australia. The Nyoongar calendar includes six seasons.

Birak—season of the young

First summer: December-January

Mosaic burning time.

The lifestyle for the Nyoongar communities during Birak

Birak season sees the rains ease up and the warm weather really start to take hold. The afternoons are cooled by the sea breezes that abound from the southwest. This was the fire season, a time to burn the country in mosaic patterns.

An almost clockwork style of easterly winds in the morning and sea breezes in the afternoon, meant that traditionally this was the burning time of year for Nyoongar people.

They would burn the country in mosaic patterns for several reasons including fuel reduction, increasing the grazing pastures for some animals, to aid in seed germination for some plants and for ease of mobility across the country.

As for the animals, there are many fledglings now venturing out of nests, though some are still staying close to their parents. Reptiles are looking to shed their old skin for a new one.

With the rising temperatures and the decreasing rainfall, it's also time for the baby frogs to complete their transformation into adulthood.


For more information click here

Image above source -  Snakes shed their skin during birak season 

Principle 1: Observe and interact


“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.

This icon for this design principle represents a person ‘becoming’ a tree. In observing nature it is important to take different perspectives to help understand what is going on with the various elements in the system. The proverb “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” reminds us that we place our own values on what we observe, yet in nature, there is no right or wrong, only different.

Northey Street City Farm, a haven amongst concrete

Clare finds a quiet space as she harvests salad for a shared community meal. This is also a time for observation and reflection. Clare helped develop an organic market garden at Northey Street City Farm. Observation and learning from the world around us are really only truly valuable if they “reconnect us to the wonder and mystery of life through practical interaction.” [David Holmgren]


Weed or medicinal herb?

Consider a plant with leaves that, when used as a poultice, has the ability to radically speed up wound healing. When eaten they boost the immune system, while the seed heads produce the digestive aid psyllium husk. Where could we find such a remarkable plant? Often within metres of the back door. It is plantain, a plant we usually dismiss as a ‘weed’. However in Norway it’s known as groblad, and in the Isle of Man as slan lus, both translating as ‘healing herb’. Photo and accompanying text contributed by Adam Grubb. See The Weed Forager’s Handbook for more.


The wonder of transformation

“On this morning, while 5 year old Torsten was out feeding the animals before school, he noticed a dragonfly nymph on a grass stalk by the pond. He gently put his finger in front of it and it climbed on. Mesmerised, he watched as the wings unfolded and dried. When they began to vibrate he held his hand up and, in its own time, the dragonfly flew off. He showed sensitivity and considered self control to engage with this beautiful metamorphosis without hindering the process.” – Sandi

Photo taken by Sandi Pointner at Eagle Ridge Permaculture – NSW Central Coast, Australia


Growing and Designing Native Gardens

February 6 @ Coolbellup Library


Smart water wise garden design using WA native plants enhances the landscape by providing an attractive habitat for our local fauna while aligning with the climate.
Learn to:
Understand Perth soils and why certain native plants grow where they do.
Why native plants are so important to our local landscape for soil biology and climate.
How to create a bush landscape with native ground covers, creepers, shrubs and trees.
Where to find a list of plants common to your area to suit your soil type.
Why correct placement of plants will save you time and money
Where to purchase native plants and the different size choices.
Fiona from Gaia Permaculture will give you lots of tips and demonstrations, feel free to bring along your soil samples for PH testing.
BOOK HERE - tickets $5

Are you running a course or training program related to Permaculture in the coming months ahead?  Email Lizzie at to be included in our next issue.
Terra Perma's Permaculture Design Course in July/August

The Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins – Book Review by Olivia Holmes


As Bill Mollison says “the problem is the solution”. So if the problem is human excrement, potential diseases from this material, precious drinking water being used to flush each deposit, huge infrastructure and maintenance costs for mains sewage systems and the purchasing of animal manure for the benefit of our gardens, what is the solution?
The very concept of composting “humanure” is considered a taboo topic by mainstream society, however, thanks to the ongoing work and in-depth studies by Joe Jenkins, we know exactly how this material can be safely and effectively composted.
The rise in popularity of the tiny house has seen the dry toilet, sometimes known as a compost toilet or a Joe Jenkins Lovable Loo, become much more widely known.
His book delves into the history of sewage and the science of microbes and composting. While you might ask why this information would be of use to anyone in a developed city who already has the benefit of sewage infrastructure, Joe would say that his work mainly benefits the billions of people in the world who rely on communal latrine toilets, which are unsafe and unhygienic. His toilets do not need any plumbing, electricity, no infrastructure, no pipes and they have zero odour. It’s at that point you start wondering if it would be possible to have a humanure system in your own household (in said developed city).
I would highly recommend this book to all permies. It's eye opening and an excellent lesson in correct composting methods, even if you don’t end up installing a humanure system.

“The "old school" of wastewater treatment, still embraced by most government regulators and many academics, considers water to be a vehicle for the routine transfer of waste from one place to another. It also considers the accompanying organic material to be of little or no value. The "new school", on the other hand, sees water as a dwindling, precious resource that should not be polluted with waste; organic materials are seen as resources that should be constructively recycled. My research for this chapter included reviewing hundreds of research papers on alternative wastewater systems. I was amazed at the incredible amount of time and money that has gone into studying how to clean the water we have polluted with human excrement. In all of the research papers, without exception, the idea that we should simply stop defecating in water was never suggested.” - Joseph Jenkins
Inspired by Charles Massy's best-selling book "Call of the Reed Warbler", filmmaker Amy Browne set out across the dry farming country of South East NSW to meet Massy and the other trailblazing farmers bringing new life to their land. Regenerative agriculture is one of the most promising wide-scale environmental solutions. This short documentary is a comprehensive journey through a variety of landscapes and regenerative farming techniques. 'From the Ground Up' is a story of genuine change and inspiration - tracing the steps of individuals who transformed their practices following the life-changing realisation - that farmers have a unique opportunity to heal the planet. Additional resources on regenerative agriculture: TED Talks - Allan Savory on "How to fight desertification and reverse climate change": - Charles Massy on "How regenerative farming can help save the planet and human health": Books: "Call of the Reed Warbler – A New Agriculture, A New Earth" by Charles Massy "The Biggest Estate on Earth – How Aborigines Made Australia" by Bill Gammage "Back from the Brink – How Australia's Landscape Can Be Saved" by Peter Andrews

Do you want to start a new Permaculture Group?

Remember if you create a new Permaculture Group or Community Garden we would LOVE to hear from you and keep our records up to date together with provide you with opportunities like insurance and the like for your events just by being members of Permaculture West - plus we give 50% of your membership funds back to you to purchase necessary equipment to get you going.  So reach out! 

Issue #18 is out now 
Just use the discount code PCWEST10 and claim your discount now

Offer to engage in small-scale regenerative sheep grazing.

Location: 1555 Westdale Road, DALE WA 6304 in the shire of Beverley. About 120 kms or 80 minutes from Perth.

Background: In 2017 this 52 acres hobby farm hosted a Permaculture Earth-works Course creating swales and drains and a dam for wild-life.  The course was conducted by Ross Mars and Don Woodcock. Since 2017 the land was kept free from any crop growing or stock. Instead, a major part of the land was slashed to build a good layer of compost. Now the land is suitable for small-scale sheep rearing using regenerative grazing principles. For the past 3 years, approximately 3,500 tea tree plants have been planted in parts of the hill slopes and flat grounds. Natives were also planted around the wild-life dam. A solar-pump bore supplies about 4,000L of water per day to a 20,000L tank up the hill.

Offer: The retired owners living on the farm are looking at leasing the grazing part of the land in exchange for an appropriate number of hours of work to help with the development of the farm along permaculture principles.

Potential candidates: 1. Someone who would like to engage in regenerative grazing as part of a study course or for personal experience. 2. Someone who desires to live on a farm and engage in permaculture practices. Singles, young families, or retired people wanting to earn a little income while living in a peaceful rural setting would be most suitable.

Besides sheep rearing, there are opportunities to engage in sustainable living through developing the existing organic vegetable garden and poultry rearing or other pursuits.

Accommodation: Preferably living in own caravan. However, if accommodation is needed, a suitable caravan can be obtained.

Time frame: The next season to start rearing new sheep would be around May or June. Prior preparation will include mapping out the grazing land into small paddocks with temporary fencing.

If interested to know more details, please email Lawrence -

Permaculture West Connecting Permaculture Based Farms with Prospective Employees 

Do you own and operate a Permaculture based farm or Organic or Biodynamic Farm in Western Australia?  Are you looking to connect with upskilled and passionate Permaculture enthusiasts with the opportunity for work?  or farm-stay work opportunities in exchange for meals and accomodation?  Permaculture West want to connect you in 2020!

Send us an email to and provide us with a short summary on what you are looking for either employees or employment and we will do our best to assist you and feature you in our next eNews, Facebook and Website. 

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