President's Report
Welcome to the first edition of Permibytes for 2012 and congratulations Permaculture Sydney North on an amazing achievement – it’s our 20 year anniversary! The effort, time, energy, commitment and passion of a great number of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things will be acknowledged, shared and celebrated here and throughout the year.

From its small beginnings, PSN now has a membership of more than 450. We are a rapidly growing community organisation that runs workshops and courses and hosts guest speakers on a range of topics related to self-reliance and sustainability. We provide a network for promoting, sharing and trading knowledge, skills, time, and produce.

Recently the Management Committee held a Strategy and Planning weekend. The outcome - to focus on three broad objectives, in addition to providing all the wonderful activities and events you know and love. These are:
  • Governance – We will put simple yet strong governance structures in place so our teams work together with a common purpose to maximise benefits;
  • Support Structures –We will provide training and support to our local groups & teams so they thrive and strengthen and in turn support PSN; 
  • Listening to Members – We will ask members what they want; we want our members to be involved and satisfied with the range, quality and quantity of activities we offer.
In short, the Management Committee’s purpose is to work collaboratively and with consultation to strengthen PSN's foundations to serve our members. is a new email address where members can now provide feedback, ideas and suggestions on what we are doing well, what you’d like to see more of and what you think could be done differently. We are also re-introducing the suggestion box at our Monday night monthly meetings.

In addition to our new initiatives we also have a NEW office.  It’s located at the Lindfield Community and Seniors Centre where our monthly meetings are held. The office now houses the PSN Library and has space available for small meetings. Until a booking system is implemented please contact Kay (Secretary) to book this space.

Special thanks go out to Penny Pyett, Diana Watson and Kay Phelan for negotiating the tenancy and coordinating the move.

Next Meeting - Monday 20 February 2012  
The first meeting of the year is this coming Monday 20th February at 7.30pm. We will be screening the recently released production of “Urban Permaculture” with Geoff Lawton by Frank Gapinski. The production is jam packed with interviews and footage of PSN members and their permaculture gardens.

PSN members featured include Debra Alderton, Elizabeth Crichton, Penny Pyett, Lucinda Coates, Les & Annette Mulder and even includes the PSN Karonga School permaculture gardens. This is a result of the work of many years from our Garden Team,  Local Groups’ Permablitz’s  and members. All of this was propagated from the wonderful and comprehensive permaculture introductory courses offered at Ryde TAFE.

Doors open at 7pm. Lindfield Community Centre, 259 Pacific Hwy, Lindfield. Just a few minutes walk from the railway station.

2011 Recognitions
Recognising that PSN is built on the work of volunteers, we take this opportunity to offer a huge ‘thank you’ to the following people for contributing their time and energy to PSN throughout 2011.

Geoffrey Hawker, PSN Treasurer for a number of years, together with Margaret Bouttell, has made huge inroads and improvements to the state of PSN’s financial affairs. We thank Geoffrey for his patience and commitment during his time on the Management Committee. We also extend thanks to him for all the years he has run the AGM elections in his secondary role as Returning Officer.

Margaret Bouttell for her massive contribution and guidance with sorting out the financial affairs of PSN.

Sandy Aureli for developing and standardising the PSN brand, forms, document templates and a plethora of brochures and leaflets. Sandy has always provided excellent and timely service, despite being given short time frames and sometimes not-so-well explained specifications.

Richard Brassil for making room available in his shed to store show props. For always making his Ute and himself available for transporting the props. For lending tools, trolleys, muscle and guidance and always going above and beyond the call of duty when setting up displays for shows. And last but not least, for working with me to fix that bl@#%dy balcony prop so that it can be constructed by 2 people with no prior experience within 1.5 hours, and deconstructed in

Monique Unger for her endless energy and enthusiasm in designing and coordinating wonderful living displays at a plethora of shows throughout the year to promote PSN and Permaculture.[Ed]

Wolfgang Uhl for always being willing and available to provide a Ute, driver, strength, height, humour, and sometimes child labour. And for his involvement and commitment to the Seed Savers group. We hope to see you back on your feet soon!

Ian Watson has been the membership secretary for many years and has done a sterling job in keeping all our member records in tip top shape. Thanks for being the friendly and welcoming face at front of house at our monthly meetings.

Andrea Pape and Leo Cummins for setting up our new website. In addition to providing members and the community with a host of information, this system enables people to join PSN online, thus removing a huge administrative burden. We acknowledge that this medium is new and different for PSN so please bear with us as we navigate through the management of these technologies. Thanks also for getting the very popular PSN Facebook Group up and running!

Martin Bartlett for putting together the PSN monthly newsletter on time, every time over the last few years. Thanks for diligently putting out requests for articles and reports and cracking the whip to make sure that they’re submitted on time. Martin has done a fabulous job in adapting to the new format that links article snippets in this e-newsletter (Permibytes) to the full article on our website. Thanks also for mentoring our new Permibytes editor, Monika Ball, in the early stages of her transition.

Diana Evans, Jill Fisher, Libby Crichton, Judy Morris, Ann Taylor, Melinda Swavley, Linda Matthews, Kay Phelan, Annette Francis and Karen Benhar for their work (wo)manning the PSN library and shop. Thanks for the meticulous record keeping, setting and packing up the tables at each meeting for being a friendly, knowledgeable and there to help and answer enquiries.

And last but not least,
2011 non-renewing Management Committee members - Geoffrey Hawker: Treasurer; Janna Mizens: Secretary; Diana Watson: Education team leader; Les Mulder: Gardening team leader (Jan – Aug); Annette Owen-Mulder: Living Skills team leader (Jan – July); Barbara Clark: Living Skills team leader (Aug – Dec); Julie Salvisberg: Communications team leader; Rolf Cambridge: FundraisingTL;

2011 renewing Management Committee members - Andrea Pape: President (now Shows team leader); Doug Taylor: Vice President; Barry Hadaway: Advocacy team leader; Monique Unger: Shows team leader (now President); Penny Pyett: Local Groups Coordinator;

Local Group Coordinators - Cecilia Bird: Hornsby LG coordinator; Peter Wright: Ku-ring-gai LG coordinator; Mandy Stubbs: Lane Cove LG coordinator; Cameron Little: Manly / Pittwater / Warringah LG coordinator; Peter Pezzolesi: North Sydney LG coordinator; Diana Fletcher: Ryde / Hunters Hill LG coordinator;

Special Message from Doug - PSN Vice President
Dear Geoffrey Hawker,

Thank you for your excellent and outstanding work as Permaculture Sydney
North (PSN) Treasurer and for the previous PSN Management Committee (MC)
positions you held over many years. Your decision not to run for a PSN MC
position in 2012 after so many years is understandable. Nevertheless your
presence on the PSN MC is going to be sorely missed. I wish to acknowledge
with appreciation the significant role you played in making PSN the large
and successful permaculture group we enjoy today. The fine, courteous and
friendly manner you carried out your MC roles made it a pleasure to work
with you over the years.

The good news is that you are still going to be an active PSN member.
Looking forward to your future camaraderie and contributions.

Who's Who in 2012
Welcome on board or welcome back to the official position holders. Wishing you all a successful, productive, and smooth running 2012

Management Committee
President: Monique Unger
Vice President: Doug Taylor
Treasurer: Roman Ciurpita
Secretary: Kay Phelan
Advocacy TL: Barry Hadaway
Communications TL: Tom Davis
Education TL: vacant *
Fundraising TL: vacant *
Garden TL: Anthony Andrist
Living Skills TL: Peter Pezzolesi
Shows TL: Andrea Pape
Local Groups Coordinator: Penny Pyett

* Our newly elected Education team leader, Peter Salvisberg, and newly elected Fundraising team leader, Julie Salvisberg, resigned from their positions on Friday 10th February 2012.

Local Group Coordinators
Hornsby: Cecelia Bird
Ku-ring-gai: Peter Wright
Lane Cove Mandy Stubbs
Manly/Pittwater/Warringah: Cameron Little
NOrth Sydney: Peter Pezzolesi
Ryde/Hunters Hill: Diana Fletcher

Other Roles
Assistant secretary: Helen Smith
Newsletter Editor: Monika Ball
PSN shop coordinator: Libby Crichton
PSN shop helpers: Judy Morris & Jill Fisher
PSN library coordinator: Diana Evans
Membership secretary: Ian Watson
Meet and Greet (temp): Kay Phelan
2012 Strategy and Planning Weekend
The Management Committee
Back row L-R: Doug Taylor (Vice President), Penny Pyett (Local Groups Coordinator), Roman Ciurpita (Treasurer), , Helen Smith (Assistant Secretary), Barry Hadaway (Advocacy team leader), Peter Pezzolesi (Living Skills team leader), Tom Davis (Communications team leader),

Front row L-R: Andrea Pape (Shows team leader), Kay Phelan (Secretary) and Monique Unger (President)

Absent: Anthony Andrist (Gardening team leader)


National Permaculture Day is now international.
Sunday 6th May 2012 - Bring it on!
Well it’s time to get your gardens growing and your projects spawning for this year’s National Permaculture Day which is approaching fast - the first Sunday in May – Sunday 6th.  
It promises to be bigger, bolder and better this year with all sorts of events and activities planned.

Gillian Kozicki promoted the event at last year’s International Permaculture convergence making the national day event become international with countries such as South Africa, UK; US; Canada, India, Kenya, Jordan and a host of others interested in participating.

National Permaculture Day showcases the practices of permaculture to the public. Businesses and local groups show permaculture in action – through markets, demonstrations, ‘open houses and gardens’, and local events in city and country.

The day has run nationally for three years, supported first by individuals and local groups, and last year by a grant  from the federal government.

In 2012 the day will be self-funded, and we are seeking contributions from all business and groups within permaculture to fund the web site that publicises the activities of the day and provides links to businesses and groups. To see the website and to register your event, go to:

This year’s organizers include Penny Pyett (the national coordinator in 2010 and 2011) Gillian Kozicki (who presented the concept and Australian practice to the IPC in Jordon in 2011) and Lauren Pothof (the web master and graphic designer who supported the site in 2009-2011)

This is strictly a not-for-profit activity, and funding is needed essentially to support the web presence of the day, the chief publicity and marketing mechanism of the event.

This is a unique opportunity to bring your pc work to the attention of an interested public.  The day supports many events at the homes and gardens of individuals, and many of these locations would be well suited to demonstrations of permaculture goods and services currently available.

Aims and objectives of National Permaculture Day
National Permaculture Day is a day to promote and celebrate Permaculture. It’s a day whereby our collective effort is consolidated, providing maximum focus on Permaculture across Australia.

The day brings many benefits. It:
  • Invites the public to learn more about Permaculture
  • Provides inspiration, ideas and solutions
  • Grows membership for local groups
  • Builds local community
  • Directs people to Permaculture courses and workshops
  • Provides media opportunities
  • Provides Permaculture business opportunities
  • Provides Permaculture people and groups an opportunity to demonstrate their skills 
  • Provides an annual event to bring a cohesive whole to Permaculturalists across Australia and beyond. 
If you would like to host an event please register this on ASAP or phone Penny on 02) 98882575 for inspiration and information.

If you would like to be a sponsor or make a donation towards the costs of the event please make a direct transfer to Bendigo Bank BSB 633-000 Account Number 1452 11884.


Advocacy Report - Barry Hadaway 

Topics covered in this report are:
  • Coal Seam Gas Mining and Food Security
  • NSW Planning Law Review
  • Democracy Weakened
Coal Seam Gas Mining
On 6 February 2012 the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance (SFFA) hosted a forum “Undermining our food bowls – how CSG & mining are threatening future food”.

The MC for the evening was Costa Georgiadis, with speakers Tim Duddy, President, Caroona Coal Action Group (CCAG), Rosemary Nankivell, CSG Committee Chair CCAG and Dr Helen Redmond, Doctors for the Environment.

Tim and Rosemary spoke passionately about the need to protect the Liverpool Plains from destruction by mining and the importance of the Region to national food production.

Tim is a 7th generation farmer and is confident the Liverpool Plains could produce food sustainably for thousands of years, if nurtured, so why destroy this irreplaceable asset for 20 years of profits for a mining company?

Almost none of the gas produced from CSG activities is used in Australia. Nearly all of it is to be exported at low prices for overseas use.  The only thing Australians will get out of it is environmental damage and loss of food security, through toxic chemicals used in ‘fracking’, through tens of thousands of tonnes of saline water being brought to the surface and through damage to aquifers.

Helen Redmond spoke of instances of poisoning to stock and people from toxic chemical spills, pollution of ground water and gases emitted from CSG well sites.

The speakers made a plea for the people of Sydney to take an interest in this issue, to support farmers in their fight to protect the Liverpool Plains & to spread the word.

Does your local MP support CSG mining?
I recommend viewing the video which gives an overview of the threat to the Liverpool Plains at

NSW Planning Review
What sort of environment do you want your children and grandchildren to grow up in?  What objectives would you set for the planning process in NSW to protect & enhance urban & rural environments?

In November I reported the NSW Government had initiated a complete review of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, which is the primary planning instrument in this state.

The review process commenced with public ‘listening sessions’ with joint Review Chairmen, Tim Moore and Ron Dyer travelling around the State talking to community groups. Summaries of these extensive consultation sessions can be found at

I attended a ‘listening session’ at Bankstown on 20 October 2011 and subsequently made a submission to this first stage of the review process on behalf of PSN.  This October submission may be viewed on the PSN Noticeboard at (Note the page it appears on may change with further postings to the Noticeboard)

Following the ‘listening sessions’ the Review Team produced an ‘Issues Paper’, “The way ahead for planning in NSW?” This document, which runs to nearly 120 pages is a giant list of questions as to how the new planning system might work and what its objectives should be?

Accordingly, everyone had to go back & write a second submission, addressing the questions they considered critical. I have done this for PSN & our second submission has also been posted to the PSN Noticeboard. You will find it on the first or second page.

So what does the submission say?  In writing submissions on behalf of PSN I am guided by the ethics of Permaculture, which appear on page 2 of “Permaculture – A Designers’ Manual” by Bill Mollison.
  • Care of the Earth – Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply
  • Care of People – Provision for people to access those resources necessary to their existence
  • Setting Limits to Population & Consumption – by governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above two principles
The PSN submission to the Review of the Planning System advocates that a new Planning Act should have 4 primary objectives:
  • Protection of the Environment
  • Sustainable Commercial and Residential Development
  • Sustainable Infrastructure Development
  • Promotion of sound Physical and Mental Health
Our submission also proposes that a new Act needs to contain a detailed ‘working definition’ of sustainability.

As permaculturalists you would understand the need to harvest water, to grow food, to minimise waste and resource use, to re-localise, etc. How many architects, builders, politicians or property developers understand these things?

This lack of understanding is the biggest obstacle to turning things around and making our society sustainable. This makes our mission, Sharing Sustainable Solutions with Communities vitally important.

Please read the PSN submission, think about the issues and about what sort of community and environment you want your children and grandchildren to live in?  What objectives would you set for the planning process in NSW?  Any feedback on the submission would be welcomed.

Democracy Weakened
Does Australia have a functioning democracy anymore?

The following information from GETUP! illustrates that our democratic system is under concerted attack.  Rather than a government ‘of the people’ do we have a government ‘of the media barons, the lobbyists and the political donors’?

This week mining billionaire Gina Rinehart became the largest shareholder in Fairfax, having already bought a stake in Channel Ten. But this new video reveals this move is bigger than one woman’s ambition – it’s part of a coordinated and very deliberate strategy, with climate sceptic ‘Lord’ Monkton seen here advising a room full of mining executives on how the industry must gain control of Australia’s media.

Can you help share this video so all Australians understand what's really going on in the mining industry?

We've seen what happened in the USA when coordinated, super-wealthy corporate interests set about deliberately reshaping the media landscape to suit their agendas. It's bad news for democracy and it's bad news for the issues we care about. And while this most recent purchase was a brazen move, it's hardly the first time a mining industry executive has used their vast wealth to push an agenda.

Last year, Rinehart helped set up a new lobby group calling for a special ‘Northern Economic Zone’ demanding lower tax, government concessions and cheap migrant labour from Asia. She helped bankroll the campaign against Government efforts to ask the mining industry to pay their fair share of tax through the Mining Super Profits tax and she's been actively sponsoring prominent climate sceptics like Monckton, Ian Plimer and Andrew Bolt, who got his own TV show weeks after she invested in Channel Ten.

Don’t believe everything you read in the papers or see on the TV! 
Reform of media ownership laws is crucial to restoring democracy in Australia.

Educations Team - Diana Evans Librarian
PSN Library has a new location, new books and new DVD’s

We have just acquired 5 of Geoff Lawson’s excellent DVD’s on soils, food forests, water and permaculture practice in urban and rural settings.

New books include information on Bamboo use, Aquaponics, Fungi, Poultry, Pest control and Permaculture theory and practice.

We also have magazines for lending and a few unusual garden tools which can be borrowed.

Every PSN member can borrow and keep items until the following monthly meeting.
Come and visit us in the new office.

Welcome new PSN members. 
A big welcome to our new members:
Hornsby - Shawn B and Kim S
Ku-Ring-Gai - Jennifer H
Lane Cove - Michael M & Lisa N
North Sydney – Anna B, John R, Gemma S
Ryde – Erica H, Nathan M
Warringah/Manly – Rob C, Sue G, Cyril J, Cath S, Felicity W, Matthew W, Matt D, Emma D
Other – Liane C

Please refer to the noticeboard on the website for local group monthly activities or email your local group coordinator

Living Skills Workshop - Peter Pezzolesi
A fun group of 7 gathered in February to make tomato salsa. Jars were first sterilised before the team set about skinning the tomatoes by scoring them then plunging them into boiling water. Tomatoes where then refreshed in cold water, roughly cut up and passed through a mouli. Next the tomatoes were cooked up with olive oil and garlic, just enough to take away the rawness. Jars were filled then left to simmer in pots of water for a good 45 minutes.

The salsa will now be a great accompaniment to the next workshop which is how to make yummy pasta. Details will be posted on the website

Hornsby Local Group - Cecilia Bird
We extend a warm welcome to all our new Hornsby members. 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.
Hornsby LG will be doing a tomato preservation workshop in March so please keep an eye on the website for further information


Introduction to Permaculture Course Starting 28th February,
Tuesdays 10am-2.30pm
Penny is about to commence one of her famous Permaculture introductory courses, which she’s been running for over 10 years at TAFE, at her place in Ryde.

The award-winning garden boasts lots of permaculture examples and participants of the course will get lots of practical information and experience.

This course will run from 10am to 2.30pm each Tuesday for 10 weeks. It is the most comprehensive intro course you can do.

Throughout the year additional Introduction to Permaculture Courses will be run through Permaculture Sydney Institute (PSI). There are weekend and weeknight courses being offered and course modules can be done at different times and locations, making them flexible and convenient. Upon completion, course participants receive a Certificate from the Permaculture Sydney Institute

Learn in one of Sydney oldest permaculture gardens (featured in the latest Urban Permaculture DVD) in a homely atmosphere. Learn how to design and set up your own garden and all about permaculture from the ground up. Ring Penny 02) 9888 2575 for more details or check out


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