E-News - December 2017
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Committee Acknowledgement | Meet a Local | Noongar Season  |  Permie Principles   | Events  |  Courses & Training  |  Learning  |  Inspiring Books  |  Pip Magazine  |  Opportunities  |  Your Say  |  Subscribe  |  Contact Us

December 2017


Committee Acknowledgement

Last Sunday 10 December, PermacultureWest hosted a gathering at Perth City Farm to mark the approach of the year’s end, and to express our thanks and appreciation to Charles and Jolene Otway.

The Otways and their daughters will soon be making their long planned tree change to a family farm in Pemberton.  Those who have had the pleasure and privilege of doing their first (and for some, second) PDC with Charles and Jolene, or listened any of their many free community talks on all aspects of Permaculture, will attest to the impact they have had on us as students and on Permaculture more generally, in WA. 
Charles and Jolene leave big shoes - or, perhaps more appropriately, bare footprints! - for the PermacultureWest committee and community to fill. 
We wish the Otways all the very best with this new chapter of their life journey, and we’re sure we’ll see them up in the big smoke from time to time.

Meet a Local

Be inspired by other West Australians who are up to all things Permaculture around our state! We would love to hear from you!  
Inspired by our last month's local share from Frannie in Perth's southern suburbs sharing her proud Permaculture garden results, we have had a new contribution from Dave and Jo from Capel in WA !

Hi everyone!
Thought we would join the fun if we could. Here is part of our very sustaining organic garden in Capel!

Regards Dave & Jo

If you would like to have your garden featured in our January issue, please email us some photos and a brief summary on what you love about your garden, what it means to be able to grow your own food and any pitfalls or success stories worth sharing to contribute to the community. We would love to hear from you!


Birak -
First Summer (season of the young)

December - January

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 Nyoongars.

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.

Read more here

Picture Above: Moodjar trees flower with a bright yellow blossom in long grass in the south west.

Principle #11
Use Edges & Value The Marginal

“Don’t think you are on the right track just because it’s a well-beaten path”

The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place.  These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system. 

The icon of the sun coming over the horizon with a river in the foreground shows us a world composed of edges. The proverb “don’t think you are on the right track just because its a well-beaten path” reminds us that the most popular is not necessarily the best approach.

Summed up beautifully by the Formidable Vegetable Sound System's tune

The Edge


Perth Green Events

For a calendar of sustainable events in Perth and the Southwest, check out Perth Green Events here.

Repair Café Perth

The Maker Movement Perth, 58 Angove Street, North Perth

Oh no! It's broken! Toss it you say? No way!!
Bring your items along to one of these next events with Repair Cafe Perth!

Repair Cafe Perth at The Maker Movement, 58 Angove St, North Perth will be fixing broken items on the following dates;-

Saturday 16th December 10.30am - 12.30pm
Saturday 20th January 10.30am - 12.30pm

Find out more here

APC14 Australasian Permaculture Convergence

15 – 19 Apr 2018, 6 – 9.30 pm, Canberra, ACT. Early-bird tickets are now for sale for APC14 in Canberra.
For more information
click here

Cert III & Diploma Courses - Permaculture

Candlelight Farm

Candlelight Farm, in conjunction with Skills Strategies International, are offering Cert III and Diploma Permaculture courses starting in February 2018.


Cert III Permaculture is ideally suited to those who have undertaken a PDC and wish to broaden their knowledge, skills and understanding. The course is very practical-orientated and students learn about propagation, pest control, irrigation, construction, soils, site assessment, impacts of weather, organic crops, permaculture products and integrated plant and animals systems. Fifteen units are undertaken over one year.

The Diploma Permaculture is a course for those who wish to become designers and consultants. Twelve units are undertaken over a year or so, and include both rural and urban designs, managing projects, strategic planning, field research, managing soils and erosion, advising clients and using particular species in design work.

Both courses are undertaken on weekends, typically once a month at Candlelight Farm in Mundaring.
For information please contact Ross Mars on 0439971213 or email

Permaculture Design Certificates

Fair Harvest Permaculture

14 – 27 January 2018, Fair Harvest, Margaret River

Fair Harvest is ready to offer it’s 10th South West Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC). Facilitated by a range of highly experienced and dedicated permaculture practitioners, you will gain knowledge, experience and relationships that will last a lifetime. Find out more information here.

Other Courses & Workshops

Perth Green Events

For a calendar of sustainable events in Perth and the Southwest, check out Perth Green Events here.

The Importance of Animals in Permaculture Landscapes

Our agrarian past reminds us that farming without animals is like trying to drive a car without gasoline. While crop rotations, cover crops and periodically maintaining the land fallow were some strategies our grandparents used for keeping the farm productive, the dairy cow, the flock of chickens, and the few hogs were the guarantee of the continued fertility of the fields.
When done on a correct scale, raising animals on a small piece of land offers balance and sustained fertility while also offering quality food products. Animals eat from pastures and other waste products from the land while offering fertility and numerous food products for us humans. The function of animals in an industrialized concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) is simply to produce protein as fast as possible. On a small, permaculture landscape, however, animals (as an element of the overall system) offer several functions, including:
– Food/Protein
– Fertility
– Natural Cultivation/Tilling of the Soil
– Weed Control
– Diversification
– Companionship
Raising small animals around the world is often listed as a primary cause of deforestation, erosion, and a whole host of other ecological problems. When designed correctly, animals do contribute to overall system health.
A good parallel from the natural world is the bison herds that once roamed the Great Plains. The Native American population lived in harmony with the buffalo population which was estimated to be several million strong. The buffalo provided the native peoples as their primary food source and a source of clothing and shelter. Buffalo bones were even commonly used as kitchen and cooking utensils.
The buffalo, however, didn´t only contribute to the health and well-being of the local human population but also were the principal caretakers of the ecological balance of the prairie ecosystem over which they roamed. Through their nomadic wanderings, the buffalo herds added needed fertility to the prairie ecosystem. Through periodic “mowing” caused by their grazing, the Buffalo allowed the system to naturally recuperate from necessary intermittent disturbances.
Once white settlers and invaders killed off the buffalo herds, the buffalo were replaced with cattle which were kept inside fenced pastures. The native prairies and grasslands which were both diverse and resilient were replaced first with monocultures of grasses and then with annual grain crops for animal feed.
The result was the ecological degradation of the Great Plains prairies exemplified by the Dust Bowl of the 1930´s. Top soil was washed to the sea and the rich diversity of resilient prairies was lost. Excessive grazing by huge numbers of cattle on restricted, fenced in areas also led to massive erosion and land degradation. Where lush prairie ecosystems used to thrive, and support a huge buffalo and Native American population, desertification is advancing rapidly in some areas of the Great Plains.
Though permaculture landscapes are developed on areas much smaller than the entirety of the Great Plains, the contributions of animals to the resiliency and overall health of the system can follow the example of these buffalo herds. While our industrialized minds have come to believe that machines, by default, are the best and most efficient way to get any job done, learning to observe the natural tendencies of animals and guide those pattern behaviors towards the overall, holistic functioning of our places is an essential aspect that all permaculturists must learn.


The Barn as an Element with Many Functions

The barn is perhaps one of the most conventional images of what rural, farm life entails. It has long been the semblance of rural farmers and their livelihoods. While barns have always played an important role for farmers throughout the years, permaculture seeks to discover all the possible functions that a barn can play on a piece of land.
Obviously, a barn is a place for animals to be housed during the night and during cold (or dry) times when pasture is not readily available. The design of your barn will largely depend on your climate, the amount of time you plan to house your animals and certain predator concerns. In places with long, cold winters, the barn will need to be completely closed to protect animals from the cold. In more temperate or warm climates, however, it´s best to leave part of the barn open to help improve air flow. This will keep animals healthier by limiting the harmful odors and potential pathogens that come from closed, stagnant areas.
While barns do offer housing and protection for animals, they also offer a number of other functions. The barn floor is a natural fertilizer machine. While some people may enjoy the morning ritual of shoveling manure to add to the compost pile or less labor intensive practice is to create a compost pile directly below you animals. Since animal manure and urine is extremely high in nitrogen, simply adding a high carbon content material such as sawdust, hay, leaf litter, etc. will allow for an aerobic decomposition. The high carbon content material effectively neutralizes any sort of potential pathogen buildup that comes from excess nitrates in manure. Furthermore, it will give your barn that nice, rich smell of fertility.
To compost in place, you simply need to add a layer of high carbon material every couple of days depending on the number of animals that you have and the amount of manure that they produce. Once you have a fairly good sized pile on top of your barn floor, you can simply set your animals out to pasture one day and shovel the buildup on your barn floor directly on to your garden beds or around your orchard trees.
Barn roofs can also offer rainwater harvesting functions or a space for solar panels. On one small farm in rural Kentucky, a small permaculture farmer built a small barn for her two goats, 15 chickens, and 20 ducks. The rainwater from the roof was directed to a small pond that was dug adjacent to the barn. Every morning upon opening the barn doors, the ducks simply took a few steps into their pond where they spent the majority of the day.
For any type of barn that you are planning on building, it´s important to take the time to consider all the possible functions that a barn can offer towards the overall functioning of the system. Besides the obvious of housing animals, barns can offer several important functions that aid in the resiliency of your overall landscape.
Article sourced from Permaculture Research Institute - Read more here


The Urban Farmer

AUTHOR: Justin Calverley & Ceres

The guide for anyone who dreams of living the country life in the city by growing their own healthy, sustainable fruit and veg - and more!

Producing our own fruit, vegetables, herbs, eggs and honey is perfectly possible in a suburban backyard. This practical guide will help urban dwellers develop a more sustainable existence.

With a deep knowledge of permaculture and organic gardening, horticultural expert Justin Calverley shows you how to establish a diverse urban farm, whether in your own backyard, a plot shared with your neighbours or even on a kerbside verge. Justin advocates observing and following nature's cycles and patterns as the best way to a sustainable and productive garden.

As well as growing fruit and veg, Justin explains how to take up bee-keeping, mushroom growing, chook care, propagation and preserving your patch's bounty.

So be inspired and get cracking on your own little garden of Eden!

About the Author

Justin Calverley, a horticultural expert with more than 20 years' experience, teaches a popular course, The Complete Urban Farmer, at CERES in Melbourne. He is a go-to expert for the media and in high demand on the presentation and public speaking circuit. Ten years of Justin's popular 3RRR radio show 'Dirty Deeds' is available as a podcast.

CERES Environment Park is an award-winning, not-for-profit, sustainability centre and urban farm on 4.5 ha of reclaimed industrial land by the Merri Creek in Brunswick East, Melbourne. Internationally renowned, it has more than 400,000 annual visitors and 40,000 FB followers.

You can purchase the book here

The latest PIP Podcast is AVAILABLE NOW!


The latest Pip Podcast is a special one, to celebrate the 2017 International Permaculture Convergence & Conference in Hyderabad, India, where Pip Editor Robyn Rosenfeldt will be speaking on the topic of women as change makers in Permaculture.

Listen to it here!


Take a sneak peak read of the latest issue of PIP Magazine here!

This latest issue features include:
- Aquaponics
- Seaweed Solutions
- Build Your Own Natural Swimming Pool

Remember that you can still get a 10% discount on new subscriptions.
Just use the voucher PCWEST9 at checkout! #winning!

FREE Fish for a Permies Pond!

I have a gold fish and he has grown from a tiny little fish to a much bigger one, and now living in a tank doesn't seem right for him anymore.
He seems unhappy, and I think he would have a much more fulfilled life living in a garden pond where he can swim and eat bugs etc and maybe even have some other goldfish friends.....I think we all need bigger ponds to swim in as life progresses....
If anyone has a nice garden pond & would like a to give my fish a home, please contact me.
Best Wishes
Wild Plants & Fungi
Vic Park Farmers Markets

Know of a great workshop coming up? Or a permablitz near your place? Is your garden looking fabulous or are you’re just bursting to share photos of your community or school garden? Would you like to introduce your Permaculture business? Well we would LOVE to hear from you!
Your input is what really makes this eNews special and relevant to local readers here in WA. Plus! It helps us showcase all the great stuff we’ve got going on to readers from other parts of the world. Let’s show them what we’re made of!

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