Permibytes December 2011

Presidents Report

Hello PSN members and friends,

Our November meeting really brought home to me how important our organisation is in developing solutions to the world’s problems. The dominant culture in western society is one of disengagement and disempowerment, and yet PSN is showing what community can achieve with cooperation, enthusiasm and a solid foundation of permaculture. Monday night’s Show and Tell meeting was a perfect demonstration of the power of our community, and our ability to lead sustainability in our region.

Linda and Stephanie presented their respective backyard projects, and showed us what a difference the PSN Garden Team and Seed Savers can make in transforming sterile urban spaces into delicious, productive systems. Mohammed showed us how generous business can be by sharing his knowledge of beekeeping and the best types of hives for backyards. Gillian brought back her amazing stories and photos from her trip to the International Permaculture Convergence in Jordan. Then we watched the amazing short film The Story of Stuff, which paints a very clear analysis of why we are consuming ourselves out of existence (it’s one of the most-watched environmental movies of all time - see it here

Monday night’s meeting was a clear demonstration of how vital our organisation is for delivering practical sustainability to our community.

Many may not realise that PSN wouldn’t exist without the generous and dedicated volunteers who have kept the wheels turning through 2011. Our volunteers have done this by selling books, running raffles, processing memberships, managing the library, setting up the meetings, developing and running our website, creating the newsletters. Our wonderful Local Group Coordinators have been developing community networks by running local meetings and community events throughout our region. Our Team Leaders have used their valuable skills to drive education, advocacy, living skills, permabees, fundraising, communications and shows through the year. And our Treasurer, Vice President and Secretary have kept PSN’s administrative functions running to support all of this. It is the creativity and energy of all these people that have made all this possible. While there are too many to name, I gratefully thank you all who have volunteered for us during the year.

In permaculture we have learned that no system can exist without renewal and energy inputs, and PSN is no different to any other system. To charge annual membership fees of $30, we rely on the work of volunteers to keep PSN’s wheels turning. We urgently need new people to step up with fresh ideas, skills and energy for 2012. There are many ways you can contribute, and I ask all members to take a look through PSN’s positions here and contact me to let me know what area or position you would like to help with. My email is, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
We’re at an important time in history, and the world desperately needs organisations like PSN. For me it has been an honour to serve in this role, and I am very grateful to all our volunteers and members who have supported our organisation. Thanks to all - have a wonderful Christmas break and a happy new year.

AGM & Christmas Party – 19 December 2011
The AGM of PSN will be held on Monday 19th December 2011 and nominations are called for positions on the management committee consisting of the executive (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Local Groups Co-ordinator) and the seven team leaders (Advocacy, Communications; Living skills; Education; Fundraising; Gardens; and Shows).

If necessary, nominations will be called from the floor. A nomination form is enclosed with this edition of the Newsletter in case you want to nominate someone for one of these positions. Nomination forms should be lodged with the Returning Officer, Geoffrey Hawker, by 8pm Monday 12th December. He can be contacted at Phone 9888 2575 or 21 Scott St, Marsfield. NSW. 2122. A nomination form is attached to this newsletter.

Permaculture Design Certificate Course Jan 3rd - 14th 2012. St Albans, SYDNEY

A high quality PDC course conducted by top rate trainers (Geoff Lawton; Janet Millington; John Champagne and Penny Pyett) at a top class venue "Bandusia Country Retreat" (2 hours from CBD Sydney) commencing January 3rd to Sat Jan 14th with one weekend break (7th & 8th Jan).

The course covers the curriculum of the Permaculture Designers Manual plus other references. Course includes fieldwork exercises; fieldtrip; theory; class work group work. Assessment involves a real life design process; It is excellent value with course fee not just covering all tuition, notes, and fieldtrips, but also all lunches, dinners and teas. A range of accommodation available on site all with 4 star facilities such as a swimming pool, sauna, spa baths, internet access, wood fired ovens, conference facility, straw-bale chicken house, pool table, library, pianola piano and luxury beautiful surroundings.

Graduates receive two certificates one form the Permaculture Sydney Institute (PSI) and one from the Permaculture Research Institute (PRI) For more info see
See Permaculture Sydney Institute website for more details or Phone Penny on 02) 98882575

PSN Education Team - Diana Watson
The 2011 Education Team Tour was a wonderful success and Kay and Robyn did an outstanding job planning a tour with a social permaculture theme. Their planning and driving the route meant that we were on time to the minute throughout the whole trip.

Although reluctant initially to be the tour guide, Kay took to the role with great enthusiasm, style, and professionalism. Robyn is a member of PSN and Permaculture Central Coast and often shares her knowledge and gadgets with us at meetings. She has given workshops (ku-ring-gai - bamboo) at local group meetings. On this trip, Robyn was the driver and at our Saturday night stopover she introduced us to her network of people on the Central Coast.

On previous occasions, we have stayed at a pub or motel, this time was different. A wonderful group of young people greeted us like we were guests at a 5 star hotel. Dinner was fabulous. For accommodation, we were billeted and it was interesting to hear that we were to be deployed in groups of up to 5 people to a family. Our minds boggled contemplating a house that had so many spare beds, but the answer was very humbling. The young people who had greeted us, waited upon us, cleared up, and washed up had given up their beds for us and spent the night at the hall where we dined. It was a fund raising effort for a camp that they are going to and when they greeted us for an all you can eat breakfast we showed our appreciation with our famous permaculture appetites. They were young people of whom any parent would be proud.

Kay was proud to invite Mark Brown and Kate Beveridge from Purple Pear who gave a wonderful after dinner talk on social permaculture giving us all much to think about. Visiting their property the next day, gave us another insight into the world of Community Supported Agriculture, reinforcing stories from earlier PSN Tours and leaving many of us with the desire to share in this kind of project.

Thank you to Sandy for the graphic design and Peter Pezz for the wonderful morning tea, lunch and afternoon teas that we enjoyed. There was so much more but this is just a tiny sample – make a date with us for next time and let us know where you would like to go. Thank you Kay and thank you Robyn.

We are exploring different training options and would be interested to hear if you have any suggestions. Write to the Education Team at Your idea could lead to new programmes. If we had a short education segment at each PSN meeting would you like that and if so what would you like to learn?

Hornsby Local Group - Cecilia Bird

We extend a warm welcome to all our new Hornsby members, some of whom we have met at recent meetings. If you have joined recently but not yet made it to a meeting please feel free to contact me at, preferably putting PSN in the title as it will be forwarded to my personal email address.

Our recent meeting involved creating herb vinegars as Christmas presents. Thanks to Kay for hosting and organising the event. We also had a tour of her lovely permaculture garden.
The Hornsby Group was well-represented on the November Permatour to eight venues on the Central Coast and in the Hunter Valley. We all had a good time learning about Permaculture in action and getting to know each other better. See elsewhere in the newsletter for a full report of this excellent tour.

Our December meeting on the 10 will be an end of year social at Cecilia’s place, starting at 4 pm (note the later than usual start). It will include a seed-saving session. Come and learn the essentials of seed saving and take home some of your very own seeds to plant. This will be followed by a barbecue. Keep an eye on the website for further details.

In permaculture we like to have several reasons for installing an element in our systems. Guinea pigs satisfy requirements by ‘mowing’ the grass, fertilising it and by being furry friends. For some people, particularly in South America, they are also part of the food-chain. The photo shows two boys hard at work on grass and clover! They have a very varied diet that includes a variety of herbs and vegetables but they love eating grass and lots of it.

PSN Annual Study Tour 2011 - Kay Phelan

We enjoyed incredible sights including the Brecknock and Kozicki beautiful properties, learned lots including not to crush snails (they only drop their eggs), ate well thanks to Tour Chef Peter Pezzolezi and venue hosts, slept well thanks to Maitland Pathfinders, *advertised well (see the bus photo), and all came back safe and sound thanks to Robyn Crosland's good driving.

All in all a great tour, and looking forward to next year.

*The three magnetic signs which were displayed on the bus are available for
loan from the Library - good advertising any time on any vehicle eg Garden

Warringah Pittwater Manly Local Group - Cameron Little
Things have gone from good to great this year for the Northern Beaches group of PSN members.

The basis for this has been the enthusiastic and energetic Committee of members formed from our group who have shared their enthusiasm and good humour - the difference in our progress between now and a year ago when the Committee was established is significant. When the group as a whole started up it really was just me trying to do everything for everyone and that arrangement predictably reached its limits pretty quickly.

The barrier was not created just from the limitations of my own time as someone trying to establish a small sustainability business at the same time. Even more significant was not yet having created a broad engagement and ownership across the group for what we did. We hadn’t yet defined the group that we wanted to be or created the culture that we wanted to go forwards with into the future. Now, thanks to this great Committee, we have a completely different situation on our hands and it feels a heck of a lot better. In fact it feels sustainable and it feels great!

Last night we had our November meeting, our last large group meeting for the year. We had about 55 people come along and everything was wonderfully well organised by the Committee. Personally I had not done much at all to make it happen – I just did my job by supporting our awesome Committee members to do theirs.

The evening was well advertised through our local Google group and through the PSN Facebook site. We had “Stone Soup” – a presentation, cooking demonstration and feast prepared with great skill and charisma by Holly Davis, a local Northern Beaches identity and the creator of the Iku chain of healthy wholefood outlets. The theme of the evening was perfect for us for the end of the year with its emphasis on everybody putting in a little and producing an abundance of food and good will in the process.

I remembered the bunch of mint that was to be my contribution. I remembered the extra reusable plates & cups, the PA & iPod for music and the extra power leads for Holly. I remembered my own reusable eating utensils, my plate and my reusable coffee mug. I remembered the few bottles of organic wine I had promised myself to take along and share.

What I did not remember was the key ingredients – the three ‘stones’ of the Stone Soup parable - much to the horror of Education Team Leader Lauren! Drinks in hand Chris, Lauren’s other half and I bolted outside and started hunting down the necessary stones for the pot. Luckily we found them in the garden of a nearby apartment building and we quickly came back with the goods, just in the nick of time and we also brought back a laugh and a smile. No-one but Lauren, Holly and we were the wiser until I outed myself here. But I digress.

The real story here, apart from what a great night we had, and how wonderful it was to have new local faces and friends from other PSN local groups along to join us, is that I was no longer needed. Not really needed. Anyone could have brought the mint and the other stuff and the group did all the important stuff regardless of me. And this is one of the reasons why I had a great time last night. The pressure seemed to be off.
Earlier in the afternoon I had been coming home from an errand and with what I thought was plenty of time to get home, get ready and head on down to Narrabeen Tramshed for a great evening. Last night we were to be meeting earlier than usual to allow plenty of time for socialising and merriment before the presentation. Our group does socialising and merriment well.

But what ended up happening was that someone else, somewhere else, must have been having a really bad afternoon with a smashed up car. The traffic was at a standstill for three quarters of an hour and was only crawling for a long time after that.

I glanced at the clock and the GPS and realised to my horror that I had been stuck for so long that getting to the meeting in time for pre-drinks was not so much the issue anymore but getting there in time to open the hall for everyone else was - now the pressure was on!
A bit of cursing and a few quick calls to my Committee member friends had it all sorted out. Another helpful Chris would swing past my place on the way and grab the key, open the door and all would be well, I hoped. Being a locally focused group Chris was there so fast that I was still on the phone to my wife talking her through finding the key when I could here him cheerfully arrive in the background calling out “Hi” and “How’s things?” Hooray!

As my better half was desperately looking for the key with me on the phone I pleaded “You have to find the key Al, it doesn’t matter if I don’t get there but the key must – the key to the hall is more important than me!”

And then suddenly she found it, Chris took off for the Hall and I had a triple sense of relief: firstly we had found the key (and I wasn’t looking forward to breaking the news of a lost key to the Council); secondly Chris picked it up in time to have the Hall open when people arrived and then number three was the biggie. Our group had grown and bonded and matured enough as a great network of permi friends that it was more important for the key to get to the Hall on time than me. When we started I had no one to ring to help and the alternative was that people would have been standing around wondering what was going on, a leaderless team.

What a great year for Permaculture Warringah Pittwater Manly and another great achievement for the Committee! A superfluous Coordinator! Now next year’s Coordinator should be able to get some really interesting things done as long as we maintain our trust and support for each other.

We still have a few things to do like a permabee and a community event and a few other bits and pieces but it doesn’t feel like a massive relief to stagger to the finish line for us this year, just normal. We don’t seem to be too stretched and we keep getting better. If a few more people step forward and help the Committee and the Teams they lead our group will be in an even stronger position next year.

One last important thing is that we have our local group Committee elections over the next week or so. We are going to trial a fully online election process to ensure that the PSN members from the Northern Beaches area who can’t make it to one specific, singular meeting of the year aren’t excluded from voicing their preferences nor from nominating for and voting for our Committee makeup for 2012.

As this is a new technology for me it could backfire however I’m not worried – our group is cool. If there is a problem or an irregularity no one will moan and carp, think it shonky or dodgy – all the details will be there for review and it will be recognised for what it is: a sincere attempt by the Committee to trial a new and innovative approach to a key aspect of the governance of our group. Our group has built a deep feeling of trust and care for each other and it works for us. Our group isn’t focused on negativity or suspicion of someone else’s motives: we have our agreed objectives and goals and we are getting on with it. We are focused on the big picture of exposing permaculture to the people in our community and on helping to bring an integrated, permaculture influenced, strategic push for sustainability to our local region.

If the online voting works then the Board of Permaculture Australia is planning on giving it a try as part of a process of pursuing greater transparency and responsiveness to the members and the larger permaculture community of Australia. Keep your fingers crossed and we will let you know how it goes!

Lastly I want to sincerely thank the great group of people who have made our group run so well this year: Chris and Lauren Pothof, our unbelievably good Education Team Leaders; Michelle Sheather, our indefatigable Events Team Leader and general strategic mover and shaker; Selena Griffith our amazing perpetual motion Permabee and Seed Saving Teams Leader; Myriam Pitre our recent super star Manly LGA Liaison, Drew Judd our Pittwater LGA Liaison who never fails to turn up and help everyone with everything, and Jane Scammell and Helga Davidson our Meetings Team Leaders who have made sure that our meeting space was as organised as clockwork for us this year. Big thanks to David Vine who, as our first Fundraising Team Leader, has done an awesome job to create a financial resource for us for the first time to draw upon to achieve our goals. As much as everyone has done I would also like to particularly mention Liz Sutcliffe and Jillian Peck who stepped forward for our group before anyone and have been our fantastic Tours Team Leaders for two years and are ready to pass on the role to someone else to give it a good shake too.

Thanks again Committee and to all those other group members who came along to so many activities and contributed to make it all work – we have done wonderful things this year, we have had a ball, we are all still friends and it has been a pleasure to have been working with you this year! I can’t wait to see what opportunities 2012 bring to us and what excellent things we can do with them.

Free workshop - Free workshop - Tofu Making 3 Dec 2011 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM Karonga School, Dent Street, North Epping.

Peter Pezzolesi and Barbara Clark are teaming up to give you a great workshop on making Tofu from scratch.

There's a few tricks to making fresh tofu, and Peter and Barbara will step you through the process so you can whip it up at home in a matter of hours. This will be a fun, practical workshop where we'll be feasting on our finished product, and celebrating the end of the year with a splash of Pez's home made alcoholic apple cider (alcoholic = the cider, not Pez).

Numbers are limited at 12, and these workshops book out quickly. If you'd like to join this tofu extravaganza, please click the register button on your left. What to bring: nothing, just your lovely selves.

Permaculture Gardens for the Third Age by Wendy Bishop
My garden is getting higher. It’s not that I’m shrinking, as I get older; it’s that I’m building up the garden beds so it’s easier to keep an eye on the garden. Now I can see what’s sprouting, and what weeds I want to pull out, without too much bending.

Bessa blocks are simply marvelous, I can add another storey to the garden bed, and top it up with buckets of compost. It was great to hear that you don’t need to transplant the plants you’ve already got in the bed– It was Angus Stewart from the ABC’s Gardening Australia program who passed on the tip - just bury them up to the new height of soil! The roses, native raspberries, and tamarillos, are flourishing under this technique.

I still have a compost heap, but I’m not turning it every day. The shrubby trimmings, and the buckets of leaves, go onto that pile, and get turned once a season. For day to day use there are a couple of in-ground compost bins – just lift the lid, throw in the kitchen scraps and slug-chewed lettuce leaves, and let the goodness percolate out into the garden bed (with help from the garden worms).

The garden is also getting smaller, but that’s another story. As David Holmgren said, in one of his talks, as you get older, the design of your productive garden needs to change; to meet the new energy budget you have to acclimatize to. - To come: terracing a sloping garden, and building handrails.

Sign the Petition - Reminder

Attached is the petition that was circulated to PSN members at the November Meeting so that they could protest the planned closure of Permaculture courses at Ryde TAFE. We have just over 100 signatures but it would be nice to have 200 or more.

Although TAFE has decided to close both the Garden Design Permaculture course (known to Permie's as the Introduction to Permaculture course) and the Permaculture Design Certificate the petition only refers to the Garden Design Permaculture course. This is because the feeling on the Management committee is that we have a chance of saving the Garden Design Permaculture course but little chance of saving the PDC.

We would like to gather as many PSN member signatures on the petition as possible.
Could you please email the petition to all PSN members and ask those who did not sign it at the November Meeting to:
  1. Print the petition
  2. Add their name and address details and sign it
  3. Collect any other names, addresses, signatures from supportive friends, relatives, etc
  4. Post the petition to myself
Barry Hadaway
3 Yerong Street
Ryde NSW 2112
I will consolidate all petitions and present them to the Director, Ryde College together with a letter from PSN's President and Vice President.
Barry Hadaway

From Penny Pyett - Christmas 2011 Birth of a New Tradition

As Christmas approaches, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Australians with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of Australian labour.

This year will be different. This year Australians will give the gift of genuine concern for other Australians. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by Australian hands. Oh.... Yes there is! It is time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?
Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local Australian hair salon or barber?

How about a gift-certificate for a Photo Shoot for a family that would last for the ages, to reflect back on...! Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement. Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, Australian owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the dollar on a Chinese-made flat-screen TV? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or games at the local golf course. There are a gazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.
Remember, folks this isn't about big national chains -this is about supporting your home town Australians with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open. How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the Australian working bloke? Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mum? Mum would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day. My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young fellow who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewellery, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes. Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip.
And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your home-town theatre? Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of dollars to burn, leave the "postie", "garbo" or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, Christmas is no longer about draining Australian pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US (We the People), encouraging Australian small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Australians, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we could not imagine.

THIS is the new Australian Christmas tradition!! Please pass this around...we can make a difference cant we? And, by the way, Happy Christmas, NOT happy holiday season.

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