E-News - November 2017
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November 2017


Meet the Committee

This month: Anthony Ridolfo
Permaculture West representative on the Australian City Farm & Community Garden Network

Hi, My name is Anthony, I am now serving my second year on the Permaculture West Committee.
On here I serve as the Permaculture West representative on the Australian City Farm & Community Garden Network.  The ACFCGN is the national association that represents all the community gardens and city farms around this great country. It assists in ground roots start-ups to collating and providing national data on Community Gardens to government and others to help facilitate policy and budget decision. As well as boasting the best acronym ever!!!
I am also relatively new in Permaculture circles as I finally undertook my PDC in 2015 with Terra Perma. Saying that though, I have always experienced and embraced the ethics and principals even without knowing it.  Growing up in a large community-centric family, living with limited inputs and closing waste loops were a part of every day life.  To me Permaculture is not just a way to grow food sustainability but a way to live your life.
With two young children, I want to resist the easy modern life and show a different way where we are accountable for our own existence.  A life that shows respect for the way we treat others and the environment.
Apart from PW & ACFCGN activities I also am involved in a new local Transition Town. Transition Town Bayswater started earlier this year. We are a small group of local residents, business owners, and local government counselors who are passionate about localising all aspects of our lives and reducing our footprint to live a happier healthier life.  Permaculture and Transition towns share a lot of synergies and it is in both of these groups I can put my Permaculture ethics and principals to a wider use.
I’ll finish off with a plug for the WA Community Garden Gathering that is happening 19-20 May 2018.  Keep the date free, more details will be released in the next edition of Permaculture West e-News.


Meet a Local

This month: Francesca Gosling
Southern Suburbs, Perth, WA

This is the first time I’ve really shared my organic chef’s kitchen garden which is silly, because it’s everything to me! From honey to elderflowers it’s fast become a dynamic little suburban farm!  I barely buy any vegetables now.  As a chef, my menus are completely inspired by my garden. My leeks are buttery and taste like they used to when I was a child growing up in the UK. They’re slow and can be difficult to grow, but my second season growing them and I’m very happy with the results.

It may seem like the herbs and greens are secondary to the meat, or fish component, but without these home grown pops of flavour my menus would be the same as most other chefs doing this kind of work. And I’m not the same! Edible flowers taste like the mother plant, but often more concentrated. They’re the perfect garnish.  I serve Rocket that tastes peppery, Mizuna that’s feathery and crisp, Sorrel that explodes with citrus in the mouth.  I don’t pay $7 a punnet for edible flowers because I have an abundance in my garden and they are picked last thing when I’m loading my car to leave for a job.  Borage grows like a weed and chefs pay about 50c a flower.  We are also officially beekeepers after catching two wild swarms in the last month and miraculously getting them into our brood boxes. So now we wait and in a few weeks we will crack the lids and see if they’re making honey.

Since completing my Permaculture Design Course at Fair Harvest in January 2017 I’ve become a completely different grower. Before it was guessing, then hoping for the best! Now I have some idea and the results are amazing. This celery was a ”guerrilla” plant and I didn’t plant it (although I have an idea which soil brought the seeds in….thanks Fair Harvest!!) and its been providing us with celery all winter! It must like its companion the amaranth, which also entered the garden under the veil of darkness!  I’m waiting to harvest the garlic which has been in the ground since the autumn equinox, and should be good to pull around the next full moon. At $40+ per kilo its worth growing, and worth the wait. Soft poached quails eggs, asparagus and confit young garlic is a perfect way to complement the new mellow garlic.  Summer has been a challenge for me as it’s so hot and so dry and I look forward to seeing how I go this year. Tomatoes are my favourite thing and I’ve never had much success so watch this space. I’m committed! Heirloom tomatoes are on the summer menu so they better grow well! 
Find out more about Chef Francesca Gosling here
Want to feature as our next "Meet a Local" and show off your garden? Don't be shy!
Email us at 

Kambarang -
Wildflower season (season of birth)

October - November

During the Kambarang season, we see an abundance of colours and flowers exploding all around us. The yellows of many of the Acacias continue to abound, along with some of the Banksias and many other smaller delicate flowering plants including the Kangaroo Paw and Orchids. Also during this time the Balgas will also start to flower, especially if they've been burnt in the past year or closely shaved.

Read more here

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 18th November 10.30am - 12.30pm
Saturday 16th December 10.30am - 12.30pm
Saturday 20th January 10.30am - 12.30pm

Find out more here

Conservation Council of WA – LiveLighter Spring Eco Fest 2017

5 Nov 2017, 11am – 4pm, Forrest Place, Perth CBD. 
Find out more here

Fair Harvest – 'Festival of No Waste' with Special Guest Charlie Mgee (Formidable Vegetable Sound System) Perma Funk Sundowner

26 Nov 2017, from 10am @ Fair Harvest, 426 Carters Road, Margaret River. 

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

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.

Zone 0 - Permaculture

Introduction to Permaculture Design Workshop 
12 November 2017
10pm–4pm @ Earthwise, 315 Bagot Road Subiaco ($80 pp)

Dip your toe into the world of permaculture design by attending this 1 day Introduction to Permaculture design course in Perth. You’ll discover what permaculture is and isn’t, the foundational ethics and principles of permaculture, and some basic design tools you can start applying to your own space straight away! 
Find out more here.

The Green Life Soil Company & Gaia Permaculture

Container Gardens & Wicking Beds
18 November, 9am to 11.30am ($29 pp)

178 Farrall Road, Midvale, WA

The Benefits of a Moveable Garden - Growing in Containers
Renting, small courtyard, soil problems, no soil, limited sunshine or shelter – don’t let any of these reasons put you off thinking you can’t grow edibles. Fruit trees in containers? Not a problem!
Find out more here.

A Permaculture Floating Seed

"travelling permaculture teachers"

What is a Permaculture floating Seed?

Often when we think of Permaculture, we think of people moving to the country to start growing or teaching, or planting in urban yards with their neighbours, or working towards social change in their local communities. But Permaculture encompasses so many aspects of economic, philosophical, cultural, infrastructural, and regenerative thought and practice. 

Permaculture 'floating seeds' are an often overlooked group within this. We exist in many places under many names. Many of us are itinerant travelling Permaculture teachers, farmers, wwoofers, or development workers who do other jobs in science, community work or regeneration, and share and spread information worldwide. This role, like many in Permaculture, is fraught, complex and disputed. I still believe that it is needed.

As the world changes at great speed, we also need to change. Change can’t always be done at home, from behind our devices, in our gardens or with our friends, as we can’t always rely on common forms of communication. Clearly, many parts of the world have less privilege in regards to communication infrastructure, whether internet connection, telephones, shared language or high levels of literacy. Floating seeds thereby act as mobile knowledge and resource sharers.

'First do no harm'. Is it possible to move without further damaging the environment, people or cultures? Some challenges include getting from place to place, finding sustainably created food, physically and mentally carrying and imparting resources such as information, languages, seeds, books and movies. This means we may hitchhike yachts and cars, catch public transport, bike or hike and source food from permaculture farms and local organic co-ops wherever possible.  

It is the role of a floating seed to try to spread information, show opportunities and possibilities, connect like-minded people cross-culturally, boost local voices, and to assist communities to get them up and running. Sometimes this means direct facilitation or teaching, often it just means the spreading of information, bringing in resources such as internet connection, funding, books, movies or seeds. It means linking groups or providing networking in isolated communities, particularly in countries where people are not accessing the internet, have diverse language groups or social linkages don't exist. For example there are a number of communities in Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya that are working in Permaculture and are not aware of each others existence. When connected they can support each other in seed sharing, innovation, cultural change and social support.

The role of the floating seed is a culturally fraught one. It is not our job to tell anyone, particularly people of other colours, languages, ethnic groups, religious beliefs and privileges how they should live their lives. Not even that they 'should' practice permaculture. This means trying to stay away from the cultural colonialist perspective of privileged people telling other people what to do, (a major ongoing issue in ‘development'). The goal is to spread information within communities and to share ideas from the developing world to the developed world and back again. We do not want to disrespect local people’s knowledge about their farms, land, seeds, food needs, or cultural or spiritual frameworks. 

There are many instances where people in the developing world, remote towns or indigenous communities have asked for assistance, so we try to start with the question of 'what does your community want?' This is complicated by questions such as; Who constitutes the community? How did they decide what was required? What opportunities are they aware of and how could that awareness be expanded? What is available? What are the possibilities? Obviously the more opportunities, resources and information communities have, the easier it is to make good decisions. If funding or resources are required, new problems present themselves. Plenty of critique exists around the tendency of Westernised cultures to champion individuals, which is often a disaster in community-based cultures. This means listening to local people about how money comes in, how resources are distributed, what exisiting power structures must not be undermined, and how to assist the cross pollination of ideas within a culture. At the same time, like everything done cross culturally, it is necessary to deal with identified cultural barriers such as poverty, and gender/ religious/ethnic discrimination.

This is especially true as the climate changes and different areas need different information and different resources. If you live somewhere where it traditionally rains a lot and it stops raining, what is the best way to evolve your practices? If there are indigenous farmers from drier regions with the same cultural or language background, knowledge exchange is much more effective. How can the two groups be linked together? In developed nations, how can we broach difficult conversations around climate change, social change and environmental innovation? (Hitchhiking is great for this as it means meeting people that you wouldn't normally mix with, and they can't get rid of you without booting you out). 

So how do floating seeds try to do that work? A significant portion is the work on ourselves and our ingrained colonialism and cultural sickness that believes that what we have in the Western world is ‘progress’. We question our motivations: How much of my work is because I have been indoctrinated into the concept of the big white saviour? Would I appreciate someone from another country offering these skills, taking that angle, using that tone in my country? Am I viewing these people as helpless victims, or knowing that these are strong capable people in circumstances that they may like to change? How does that differ to how I view myself? 

Lastly, we self fund. It is financially difficult. I personally persist because it is important; because I see many ‘aid’ structures and mentalities as part of the problem; because  everybody has good information that needs to be shared. To protect our environment and provide sustainable livelihoods, we need to think about more than just reducing our impact, but also about assisting others who are ready for change. There are many cases (such as the failed Fremantle farm) where the work of people with great knowledge, skills and intentions is destroyed repetitively by regulation. Those same skills and knowledge could be used to greater effect in other places where people want access to the information and are ready for change. 

Floating seeds also spread resources that are needed such as books, movies and seeds. Seed movement usually involves ordering requested heirloom seeds, or carrying directly in areas that allow it. The idea of carrying seeds is always problematic: Do we need more seeds from one source? Don't we need genetic diversity and locally adapted seeds? Of course we do. The problem is that there are no seeds left in many places from remote Zambia to outback Australian towns. There are no local varieties, and only genetically modified and hybridised seeds are available. From an ecosystem or genetic diversity perspective, this is viscerally awful; from a human perspective it is a tragedy that creates starvation as some of the poorest people in the world are forced to buy new seeds every year. Many times, when leaving communities I have worked in or even just visited for a day, I am followed out by an old person who gives me a handful of precious local seeds to take to another community; knowing that seeds are life.Therefore I will aim to carry heirloom seeds (sealed to protect against disease) and distribute them if people ask for them.  

Look out for floating seeds! Critique us, give us better ideas, support us. Like so much in social and community work, inputs and outputs are hard to measure. Aid funders often demand hilariously nebulous targets for their buck (“Here's one million dollars. I’d like to see less mental illness”) that we would be unlikely to fit under as small change-makers. We do not have individual funding. We aren't big names although we appreciate the sharing of their expertise. We aspire to assist locals to have greater information, not necessarily to form Permaculture farms, but to access different ways to live and different ways to understand the world on both sides of the global North-South divide. We want to change ourselves to do our role better, to protect and regenerate our planet, and to make a future for us and all the creatures who live here with us.

Jen is a local Permaculture enthusiast who wanted to share her article with us this month - Thanks Jen for your inspiring contribution!


The Thoughtful Gardener

An Intelligent Approach to Garden Design

AUTHOR: Jinny Blom

The most romantic, creative person in garden design I know.’ Piet Oudolf

‘Jinny's genius is to marry a beautiful vision to an extraordinary empathy with the landscape into which that vision will fit, resulting in a pastoral harmony second to none’ – Victoria, Lady Getty

A prolific designer, Jinny Blom embraces a wide variety of styles, from formal walled gardens to contemporary installations. What defines her work is her skill with plants and her ability to create a garden that responds to the history of the site and the wider landscape. In this book, Jinny shares her insight into the creative process she has developed while designing more than 250 gardens around the world.

The gardens Jinny creates are as different as their owners and their locations. Small gardens are very intimate and have to work efficiently in order to be pleasing. An Oxfordshire garden of rooms is constructed from nothing, creating a new garden with an old soul. There are modern takes on traditional forms.

But all these gardens share a commitment to beautiful craftsmanship and considered planting. Structure and detail are important, and receive close attention. The styles vary considerably – logical, calm, beautiful, romantic, naturalistic, formal, sometimes spare – but the principles remain firm. Jinny designs for the long term, with consideration for the environment; these gardens are built to last.

Reflecting Jinny‘s highly individual character, there is plenty of wit and quirkiness alongside the expert knowledge, and it will appeal to the widest audience of garden lovers. Thoughtful and beautiful, yet practical and informative, this book marries artistry with functionality.

You can purchase the book here


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

This months 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!

First Earthbag Dome Building in WA

Expressions of Interest Sought:

In Summer of 2017 we will be beginning to build Australia's first Earthbag dome home right here in WA!

Is there anyone in Western Australia who would like to come down to Kendenup (just outside Mount Barker) and spend a day taking part in the process and learning all about earthbag building?

You will:
- Take part in the building process
- See other earthbag projects (the outdoor bathroom we built and wood fire pizza oven)
- Have access (a good "looksie") at our documentation and everything we needed to do to meet Australian Building Code (in case you fancy building something similar!)

There is no cost to this. This is a case where it is win-win. You are helping us, but we also help you. Similar workshops in the Eastern States have cost $500 or more per head.
We consider the fact that you are helping us for a few hours (or more if you want!) payment enough!

If you are interested - please send a message to Hippy Farm Girl on Facebook or email here.

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!

So send your updates today to:
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