Munir & Mittul talk Bamboo Construction on Monday 19th September
Permaculturalists seriously need to consider using bamboo as an important and key building material in their designs. So says Munir and Mittul Vahanvati!  Munir and Mittul are PSN’s September keynote speakers. They are very passionate about bamboo use. Bamboo has, prior to industrialisation, been one of the world’s major building materials. Now it is again coming back into use.  With increasing concerns about climate change and sustainability, bamboo is slowly making a comeback as an alternative material for products, furniture and construction. Bamboo’s amazing qualities are being recognised not only by the design industry but by many other industries concerned about mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and the overall human impact on the environment. Bamboo is ready to become one of world’s major building materials of the future!

Munir and Mittul experiences with bamboo began in 2004 when they were introduced to this versatile material by Prof. M P Ranjan from National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad. They were fascinated by the structural capabilities and varied possibilities of bamboo. Both being from architectural background, they quickly realised the potential of bamboo in creating structures and buildings. The amazing bamboo structures by the master bamboo builders from Columbia like Simon Velez, Marcelo Villegas and Jorg Stamm instantly captured their attention and inspired them to work with bamboo.

Munir is an architect co-founder of Giant Grass and urban designer with more than 6 years of experience in bamboo. He is passionate about designing and using the natural form of bamboo to create rhythmic structures that create a play of light and shade.  Munir's first bamboo project involved teaching local craftsmen of Dang, the importance of design and creating market value by design. Since then his main focus has been on creating designs that are efficient, attractive and minimise labour input to maximise productivity. He has designed various products and structures out of bamboo and also likes to get hands-on making some of the products. In 2009 Munir presented a paper at World Bamboo Congress in Bangkok titled ‘Our Explorations in Bamboo Construction’. He has facilitated various community workshops and short courses at UNSW, University of Adelaide and University of Canberra. In April 2011 Munir conducted a series of bamboo workshops around Australia for Bamboo Society of Australia (BSA).

Mittul, also co-founder of Giant Grass is an architect with a post graduate qualification in Sustainable Development. Her main interest lies in conducting active-learning construction workshops amongst community about bamboo as an ecologically and socially sustainable material. She has been involved in working with bamboo for past 5 years. She was introduced to bamboo by M P Ranjan from NID when she engaged in teaching basic design skills to the local craftsmen at NID-BCDI in Agartala, NE India. Since then, she has continued spreading awareness about design possibilities with bamboo with varied strata of people from craftsmen, tribal, community to university students. She aims at designing contemporary eco-tourist cabins utilizing bamboo in combination with other materials, and raising the standard of bamboo in design industry.

Munir and Mittul’s website is at

Presidents Report

The President is on holidays so I have the privilege to make a report for the September newsletter. Here is a quick round up of things at PSN.

In August we had an excellent presentation by Pete the Permie about heritage fruit trees. His challenge to us at PSN was to make heritage fruit trees a key part of our permaculture designs.

September speakers are going to challenge us with respect to the use of bamboo in our permaculture designs. In each case these speakers have held or are holding very popular workshops on the respective weekend preceding their Monday night keynote presentation. This is turning out to be a good economical and efficient format to bring in interstate speakers to PSN as well as outstanding workshops. If you are interested in participating in the bamboo workshop, you need to go to the website to register.

The PSN local groups are becoming more and more active. Your local group is key to PSN’s future as a community focussed organisation. To encourage this, PSN is now starting to trial initiatives that enhance local group’s happenings. During July, Ryde Group began an initiative to train each other to use the PSN compost tea brewer and microscope.  This required interested Ryde members to devote a little time, effort and expense to help each other. This process  not only develops a member’s self-reliance but the ability to transfer their skills to other members. This is probably one of the most important roles that local members can perform for themselves and their fellow members.   If your local group wishes to learn how to use the compost tea brewer  and microscope please ask your Group Coordinator to speak with the Local Groups’ Coordinator, Penny Pyett.

Congratulations to Monique Unger and the Shows Team. They did a fantastic job at the ABC Gardening Australia Expo.   The PSN permaculture display was so good that Monique ended up being interviewed and put on the evening TV news.  Even the word “permaculture” was used by the reporters.

The PSN Karonga partnership initiative is generating some interesting courses accredited by the NSW Institute of Teachers. Karonga’s permaculture gardens were used to hold the first course,  Creating a School Kitchen Garden which was highly evaluated by the thirty participants.

It is great to see so many members support the monthly meetings to hear great permaculture speakers. The friendship and energy generated has been the most often comment from our speakers. Thank you to the local groups who always provide a delicious supper. This is a highlight to conclude the evening.
PSN Advocacy Team - Barry Hadaway
On 13 July 2011 the Advocacy Team wrote to Chris Hartcher, Minister for Resources and Energy and Robyn Parker, Minister for the Environment. We told them PSN members were concerned about Climate Change, mining related Pollution and Food Security. All of these matters are negatively impacted by the continuing expansion of coal mining and coal seam gas extraction in NSW.
One of the biggest problems that concerned permies, environmentalists and landholders face in trying to protect the land is the tremendous historical bias in legislation and the legal framework towards mining. Historically it was seen as unquestionably a good thing to 'unlock the mineral wealth beneath the ground'. Mining has been sacrosanct regardless of collateral environmental damage! We need a more enlightened approach in the 21st century.
Fortunately, a bluprint for legal reform does exist. Recently, the Environmental Defenders Office issued a discussion paper, "Mining Law in NSW", which makes 21 recommendations for the reform of Mining Law in NSW.
Our letter agued that the NSW government should adopt the 21 recommendations of the Environmental Defenders Office.
On 24 August 2011 we received a response from the Office of Environment and Heritage on behalf of Robyn Parker. The response states, in part, "... the Minister for the Environment has asked the OEH to consider the recommendations listed on the discussion paper for legislative reform."

Beer Making Workshop - 3 September 2011
Learn how to brew your own beer from two of our favourite master brewers Leo Cummins and Peter Pezzolesi!  This will be a fun, hands-on workshop where Pez and Leo will run through the equipment you need, and show you how to make a brew from scratch.  The workshop will also cover how to bottle your brew, and will finish off with some tastings of their more interesting home made beers. At the end of the day you'll take a bottle home with you to second ferment.
Limit 12 people - first in best dressed!

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.


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.

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.

Garden Team - Les Mulder
For September, we’re off for a re-visit to Libby Crichton’s garden to finish the chook palace and do a bit of tidying up. It’s not often we get to see how a permaculture garden matures, so this is a good opportunity to have a good look at an established garden and see what to expect from some of the other gardens we’ve done as they get a bit older.

So, put aside Sunday the 18 of September for a fun day of gardening and chook run building. I will post more details of what we will be doing on the PSN web site closer to the day.

This will also be my last garden blitz with the team, as Annette and I have sold up and will be heading for Wingham in October, so we’d love to see you there.
Let’s keep on changing the world, one back yard at a time.

PSN Education Team - Diana Watson

The Education had two very successful workshops this month. Peter (aka Pete the Permie) and Sylvia Allen introduced us to the magical world of Heritage fruit trees. New skills in grafting and propagating will enable us to incorporate trees into different climates and limited spaces. Now we can create manageable hedges of fruit trees in our gardens and espaliers designed for efficient harvesting in our orchards. Hopefully, Pete and Sylvia will return next year for another workshop.
The first of our Veggie Garden Workshop series at Bandusia started with a sumptuous dinner for overnight visitors. Nick Crook shared his wide knowledge of veggie gardening using Permaculture principles. The propagating workshop gave us all new plants to bring home and share and the planting sessions reinforced the planning strategies as well as producing a three wonderful veggie gardens, including a tea garden, next to the kitchen (of course J).
As with all PSN workshops, delicious organic food kept our strength up and allowed us to share our breaks, get to know the other people and learn from their experiences. Thank you to Peter, Sylvia and Nick, we hope that we see you again next year.
Next month watch out for Presentation Skills workshop with Stephen Kozicki and Introduction to Permaculture in October. Contact Diana Watson 9416 2929 for more details.
Hornsby Local Group - Cecilia Bird 
Our August meeting was at Jacqui’s house, home to a delightful permaculture garden. A not-so-mini greenhouse was constructed, much-needed weeding was undertaken and Sue and Doug took an axe to the cardamom – much of which made its way to the monthly meeting at Lindfield, being taken home to be grown by other member of PSN. In the last week I have used some leaves in tea and have steamed fish wrapped in leaves. Permaculture, amongst other things, is the perfect blend of two of my favourites: gardening and food!
We also planned ahead. However, meetings, with the exception of the September meeting, are subject to confirmation.
September - Thermomix demonstration at Carlingford, look out for info to be posted in the next week
October - Compost Tea at Leo’s in Berowra
November - Christmas gift-making at Kay’s in Hornsby
December - End-of-Year Party – venue to be confirmed – any offers?
January - No meeting – enjoy the summer and the fruits of your labours
February - Aquaculture (providing Peter is willing)
March - Preserving
April - Kimbriki Recyling Centre/New Leaf Nursery/Baha’i Temple

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