Permibytes August 2011

Welcome to the new PSN newsletter. . . and website!

What an exciting day!!! At Permaculture Sydney North, our mission is to get people actively involved in permaculture and self sufficiency, and we do this by running over 120 events and activities each year – this is what creates sustainable communities. Today we are launching our new newsletter and website to help provide our members with a better picture of what’s going on around our region.

The articles below all link back to the full articles in our website. The website’s Events page will show you all the details of the upcoming meetings, workshops and courses - you can click on any event to find out more details, and register for the event online (if required).

If you are a member of PSN, you can log onto the website and register for member-only events (choose ‘forgot password’ the first time and it will send you an email asking you to create one) - look in the top right hand corner of this page.

This new system is also timely as we are in the midst of membership renewal season! Our new website will enable online renewals and event registrations, which means you can do it from home. Our fabulous Membership Secretary, Ian Watson, is invariably swamped with renewal paperwork at our regional meetings (thanks Ian for your tireless work!) and via post, so it will make a big difference for him and other volunteers if people can ‘self-serve’ on our website where possible. Payments can be made using Paypal or secure credit card (or by the old methods as well if needed).

In addition, over the next couple of months we’ll be adding a couple more pages to allow members have online discussions and load photos of PSN events. If you are wanting to do these things now, please join us on the Permaculture Sydney North Facebook group, where members are already sharing information, links, photos and stories -  PSN Facebook page.

In the past, our reports have covered the events that are coming up in our organisation, but this time I’ll let our new systems do the talking! Before we go, we would like to thank the PSN Management Committee for giving us the go-ahead. We are really excited about these new tools - and we welcome any feedback or questions as we refine and perfect our new systems.
Happy days!

Andrea, Leo and Martin

'Pete the Permie' coming to PSN on Monday 15th August

This month PSN’s keynote speaker is none other than “Pete the Permie”.
Peter Allen is coming to PSN this month to present the critical need for all permaculturalists to include heritage fruit trees as an important part of permaculture designs. Peter is no stranger to this issue. He has found it necessary to implement a very large and significant heritage fruit tree collection as part of his permaculture design. These fruit tree varieties immediately became at risk when governments abandoned the collections that were being held in trust for the future of all Australians. Peter now has a heritage fruit tree collection that has grown to over 1000 heritage fruit varieties.

Since completing a PDC in 1995, Peter and his partner Silvia have been building a permaculture demonstration site on what was a 100 year old cut flower farm in Olinda above Melbourne. The 15 acre property supports over 1000 varieties of fruiting plants ranging from apples to avocadoes. This is all managed along with the milking of sheep, goats and llama and raising rare breed poultry. Peter and Silvia also run a variety of permaculture education courses. This includes classes for the Permaculture Design Certificate, cheese making, wine making and growing heritage fruit trees.

Over the last 15 years both Peter and Silvia have been very active and key members of the Mountain Districts Permaculture Group, Permaculture Melbourne Heritage Fruits Group and the Heritage Fruits Society Inc. Peter has been running the Petty’s Antique Apple Festival since 2003.

With a background in retail, Peter set up a nursery and is now selling 600+ varieties of fruit trees at the farm shop and at Farmers Markets.

Peter is also the author of Heritage & Dwarf Fruit Trees for Urban Backyards & Small Orchards. This very recent publication is already into its second edition.

Organic Expo and Green Show International - 5-7 August 2011

This year PSN has been asked to coordinate and run the feature kitchen garden display. This is an exciting opportunity for us to demonstrate what we know and love about permaculture to a target market of Sydney-siders interested in organics and green living. The promoters of the expo are doing all the publicity for us so we can focus on what we do best – putting on amazing, educational, interactive and relevant displays and showing the public how they can integrate Permaculture into their lifestyles too!

Sydney Premier of Anima Mundi - Thursday 25 August 2011
Chauvel Cinema Paddington Sydney
7pm Launch by David Holmgren of the book "Permaculture Pioneers"
7.25 Anima Mundi - Permaculture, Climate Change, Peak Oil and the Soul of the World
8.45 Costa Georgiadis: Why coal seam gas is everyone's business... How our food security and water security are being decided without us!
9.00 Networking, schmoozing and drinks in the foyer. Opportunities to engage with likeminded people. Local organic fingerfood by Food Connect

Seed Saving and Seed Sharing - 27 August 2011

Our seeds are free! The Seed Savers Network promotes the practice of seed saving and organises the preservation, free distribution and exchange of open-pollinated seeds.

Our seed bank is offering a wonderful opportunity to participate in conserving bio-diversity on a local level. Seeds from our seed bank have been grown organically by members and we encourage you to get seeds from the seed bank to grow in your own garden. If you are collecting seeds in your garden, you are welcome to bring your seeds and share it with members.

What's On?

Veggie Garden Workshop series - The Spring Garden - 28 August 2011

This Spring garden workshop will delight your senses and inform you of everything you need to know about growing veggies and fruits organically in Spring. Learn how to plan, grow and maintain the Spring veggie garden; what fruits and vegetables species to grow in Sydney and how to propagate, grow and harvest them. The workshop covers basic Spring care and maintenance activities like soil preparation, fertilization, mulching, propagation, pruning and more.

What is Permaculture - 4 September 2011
A fast-moving and exciting one-day workshop with a number of Permaculturalists providing an overview of Permaculture. This taster is a good first step entry into Permaculture to see if it’s for you.

The Introduction to Permaculture course in October builds on this one day workshop which leads on to the Permaculture Design Certificate course.

Presentation Skills - 10 September 2011
A professional development course in Presentation and Persuasion skills for all public speakers, group leaders and trainers presenters.
Presented by Dr Stephen Kozicki. Stephen is a highly sought after presenter delivering Business Coaching on a range of business development topics. These areas of specialisation include Negotiating Skills, Negotiating with Style, Strategic Account Management, Effective Presentation Skills and Dealing with Cross-functional Teams.

Book now

Bamboo Construction - 17-18 September 2011
Bamboo species to grow – how to grow and harvest
Bamboo as a construction material
Design process for bamboo construction
Effective joinery
Preservation techniques
Hands-on construction
This course is run by Permaculture Sydney Institute the new permaculture enterprise set up by our very own Penny Pyett, Geoffrey Hawker and Wolfgang Url.

Wood Fired Oven Construction - 8-9 October 2011
Design process for wood-fired oven construction
Low Tech & High tech Ovens
Preservation techniques
Hands-on construction
Q & A sessions
Evening discussion
This course is run by Permaculture Sydney Institute.

Permaculture Warringah Pittwater Manly - Bees Talk, Permabees and as for us come and C

The Education Team plus other Committee Members organised a fantastic and very well attended workshop on Backyard Beekeeping for out July meeting for permaculture on the Northern Beaches. Over 75 people came along with a great mix of regulars, occasional attendees and people who heard of the event through the Manly Daily.

Bee stings are “not much fun” but we think that Norman Webb, our presenter for the evening, will have hooked a few people from the northern beaches hooked on his hobby. Norm’s workshop included what is involved in obtaining the end product - sweet, golden honey from your own backyard, and he brought along a range of different honeys that he and his bees had produces from different types of vegetation around the state. Norm also covered other considerations such as the cost of keeping bees, how much honey is produced and the protective “space suit” beekeepers wear.

Norm has been keeping bees for 26 years and has had his fair share of bee stings in that time. “It’s a very rewarding hobby,” he said. “It can be quite challenging if you’re a bit touchy about being stung by a bee - I think people get put off when they get stung and don’t last the distance. “Bee stings are not much fun and the pain doesn’t lessen with time - I find them just as painful as the first time. “A lot of people think they won’t be stung at all but part and parcel of beekeeping is that you’re going to get stung on the odd occasion.”

Benefits of keeping bees include home-made honey which can also be packaged and sold to make a profit, cross-pollination for flowers, fruit and vegetable plants in the garden, it’s great to watch the bee colony grow and develop, being part of a beekeeping organisation and entering shows and winning awards.
Later in the year we will be organising a presentation on Keeping Native Bees – they don’t produce as much honey but they are great for your garden and, very attractively, they don’t sting! Keep an eye out for updates on coming educational workshop and forums organised by the Permaculture Warringah Pittwater Manly. If you live in the area please come along and get involved. We are also looking to put in a group order for native bee boxes already loaded up with bees. Financial members only for this deal.

Now on to a different kind of ‘bee’… Permabees. The northern beaches Permabee Team has had a great response to our request for projects and we already have arranged a series of permabees coming up to carry us through to the end of our year. We will of course look to consider others if we can manage them so if you are a financial member of PES from the local government areas of Warringah Pittwater or Manly then contact us and we will what we can do.

Permabees, a smaller version of the larger PSN Permablitzes, are a great way to meet like-minded people, learn some new skills and enjoy being outside doing something constructive. Selena Griffith, our Permabee Team Leader reports. “Personally I've made some great gardening buddies over the past 18 months through the permabees and they have really enhanced my enjoyment of the permaculture adventure. You better be prepared to be hands on for this series of permabees we are combining them with some great skill acquisition workshops to get you garden brain and brawn expanding.” Selena enthused.

Our group is spacing the permabees at 4 week intervals and mixing some work with some learning so we all benefit from the experience. Our next Permabee is Sunday August 14. We will build a herb spiral 10 am - 2pm - drop in for a bit or stay the day - bring a hat, water and something to share for lunch. Herb spirals are designed to create a series of microclimates from hot and dry through to very wet in a small contained space. They allow you to grow many herbs all year round. Herb spirals are a great community project as you need to all pitch in to build it. Come make some new perma buddies or catch up with some old ones. We will be at Elanora Heights. Contact us for more details. Financial members only – join or renew now! Everyone is welcome to join in.

Cameron Little, Permaculture Warringah Pittwater Manly. Email Cameron

Stephanie's Place

As the latest recipient of the Permabee in July I’d like to tell other Permies, who haven’t had one, of my experience.

Although it had been on the cards for some time, I was a little apprehensive as July drew nigh. Would I have control of what was done, would enthusiastic people go ahead with their own ideas of what was required, would I have enough (and the right) materials available, would anyone turn up, would I have enough (and the right) food for the workers, what if I got enough (and the right) amount of everything and then it rained!

Although, having attended blitzes in the rain, I knew most people wouldn’t be put off too much by it. I hesitantly expressed these fears to members of the Gardening Team who allayed them enough for me to go ahead, with - after plenty of consultation with me - a workable plan of things to do according to my design, an estimate of what materials I would need, lots of reassurance, and, most important of all, an update on the numbers of people who said they would be coming!

At 5.30am on the day, it was raining heavily - disturbing, but my faith in the Weather Bureau was vindicated when it eased off by 8am. After that, we only experienced a couple of episodes of light drizzle. About 17 enthusiastic workers arrived with various implements and contributions.

After a group discussion each person headed off to do whatever took their fancy. Feeding and watering of the troops was attended to throughout the day by my wonderful sister-in-law Toni and brother Richard. Totally indispensible, and I would recommend that anyone who has a blitz have someone responsible for that to free up the Blitzee.
At the end of the day, I can definitely say it was well worth the anxiety etc. Now my yard has gone from a mess too overwhelming for me, to a garden where my design has emerged, and it is in a state where I can continue fine tuning it over the coming months so it is ready to go ahead in Spring. Thank you to the garden team (Les, Deb and Robyn) who convinced me to go ahead with it, and to all who came.

The camaraderie, enthusiasm and achievement are what make a permablitz so much fun. But what you have done for me is you have all brought my vision closer to fruition.

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