President's Report
I started a new job a couple of weeks ago as a business analyst for an energy efficiency company. Having now been there for a grand total of just over two weeks I'm thinking - what does energy efficiency mean?
Sure, there's a lot of talk about energy efficiency in regards to Climate Change... for all the energy contained in coal, only about 25% of that potential gets to the end appliance. That is, about 75% of the energy released is lost as heat in the burning process and throughout the transmission between the power station and the appliance in your home/work/school. That is not efficient.
So when you hear about energy efficiency, and changing your light bulbs, turning appliances off at the wall rather than leaving them on standby and little things like that, what is being said is that for every unit of energy you don't use at home, you're actually saving another three units of energy being wasted at the power station.
But that's not the only type of energy efficiency there is... There's also your own personal energy - and this ties in to the "taking care of people" permaculture ethic. Take for example this little story I read in an interesting article the other day.

A businessman comes up to a fisherman lounging at the wharf and asks why he isn't out there fishing.
“I already caught enough today to feed my family.”
“But if you fish more, you could sell the fish and make money.”
“Why would I want to do that?”
“With the money, you could buy more boats and hire other people to man them.”
“Why would I want to do that?”
“Well, then you could make even more money and retire.”
“Why would I want to do that?”
“Then you could spend your days lounging on the wharf and only fishing as much as you pleased.”
“But that's what I'm doing right now.”

A lot of people have put a lot of time, effort and energy into preparing and opening up their gardens and running events on International Permaculture Day, which was on the 6th May. Hopefully many of you got around to experiencing some of these amazing places, and you've been inspired to make a start on your own project or get involved in some Permaculture related activities yourself.
To those of you who hosted something on the day, and certainly to the three people who made IPD happen (Penny Pyett, Gillian Koziki, and Lauren Pothof)... thank you for making this wonderful day accessible to the masses. Wishing you all a well earned rest now that the big day has passed.
I hope everyone is enjoying this lovely crisp autumn weather as much as I am. Stay warm and healthy.


PSN Monthly Meeting - Monday 21 May 2012 @ 7:30pm
If you weren't able to get to all the events and open gardens you wanted to on International Permaculture Day, fear not... Two of our presenteres this month will share their experiences with you.
Selena G. will give a run down on what was going on at New Leaf Nursery in Ingleside, and Monique U. will do a brief presentation on the Earthbag building workshop that took place in her small urban courtyard.

In addition, we will have Lance L. from Permaculture Sydney South / Transition Bondi relive some of APC11 (that's the 11th bi-annual Australasian Permaculture Convention) that was held this May in New Zealand. And Jermey Y. from the Ryde group will fill us in on the Portable Roundhouse Construction workshop he attended after APC11.

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

Don't Forget to BYO Mug
Please bring your own reusable mug/cup to all meetings.

PSN Monthly Meetings are held on the 3rd Monday of every month.

Doors open at 7pm. Lindfield Community Centre, 259 Pacific Hwy, Lindfield. Just a few minutes walk from Lindfield railway station.
PSN Permabee - Sunday 17 June - Hornsby - 9:30am to 4pm
The June Permabee will take place at Kay's property in Hornsby. The Garden Team helped Kay turn her backyard into a wonderful permaculture garden a couple of years ago and now it’s time to focus on the front.

Kay will be getting some earthworks and structures in place prior to the Permabee. On the day of the Permabee we will be helping Kay:

* Put in a pond;
* Plant up the bund of a swale with fruit trees;
* Plant up a newly constructed raised garden bed made with old recycled sleepers;
* Install the form work to support a small row of espaliered fruit trees.

To join us on the day, please register on the PSN Website or send an email to Deborah Alderton at

Seed Savers Monthly Meet with Peter Pezzolesi
Seed Savers meet on the 4th Saturday of every month from 9am-12 noon at the Bidjiwong Community Nursery in Baulkham Hills. (Rear of Ted Horwood Reserve carpark, off Renown Rd, opposite the sports club).

All PSN members are welcome. You'll meet great people, learn a lot about cleaning seed, propagating, how to recognise and save seeds, heaps of growing tips and herbal remedies from Robyn and other knowledgeable people.

We can share our seeds with you and would love for you to share some of your special heirloom seeds with us.

Peter Pezzolesi
Seed Savers Co-ordinator
Phone 0412 817 605
PSN Education Team with Craig Duckmanton
Next Meeting Monday 4th June at 7pm
On May 7 we had a great “start up” meeting for those interested in the Education side of PSN.
We had 9 participants, which was great, and we are most keen for others to join in, especially younger members!

Everyone in the room tabled their thoughts and views on where education should head with PSN and the core issues that emerged were –
  • Co-ordinating team activities so that we get both the experiential and the theory when activities are undertaken, and that we record and hold as a resource for later.
  • Create a learning pathway for new and existing members to quickly and easily pick up the core essentials of the principles of permaculture through regular learning sessions at monthly meetings.
  • Could we undertake a modular intro style course to get those interested underway and create a resource base for the future?
  • Find out what the members want. We are creating a basic survey for you to have your say and better understand your thoughts and ideas, of which I hope there are many!
  • Is there an opportunity to help members become better trainers in permaculture even at a basic level within our group.
  • Whatever we undertake, make sure we keep highlighting and referring back to the principles of permaculture at work and by design. Sometimes those principles are lost and people get cluttered up in “Oh they make vege gardens and have chooks” without referencing the multi functioning low energy design principles.
  • How can we become a better reference base for members eg supply links for web based information??
The opportunities in the education area are potentially enormous, so it is very important that we concentrate our efforts into practical and possible outputs that benefit members needs, and support our community engagement for clear understanding and development of permaculture as a mainstream design system that benefits all. When the survey comes out, please take the time to complete and return it so we know what you would like.

I would also like to hold a brief QandA at each monthly meeting so that we are continually renewing ideas and thoughts rather than waiting for an annual survey.

Our next meeting is 7pm Monday June 4th at the Lindfield Seniors Hall, and if you want to be part of the change, then come along and put your heart into it!! We’d love to see you there.



Advocacy Report by Barry Hadaway
NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan

The NSW government has initiated the preparation of a Long Term Transport Master Plan for NSW. The overview document for the Plan states, “The plan will identify a clear direction for transport over the next 20 years.” Interestingly, the overview document also predicts the population of NSW will be more than 9 million, 20 years from now.

Just about everyone who lives in Sydney experiences transport difficulties in their everyday lives. What is the solution?

In preparing a submission two thoughts came to mind. Firstly, in discussions with David Holmgren regarding our February submission to the Review of the NSW Planning System, David suggested that one of the root causes of our problems is the Zoning System. The second thought was Bill Mollison’s advice to the gardener who complained of having too many slugs. Bill said, “You don’t have too many slugs you have a deficiency of ducks!”

Our submission argues that the State’s transport planners should consider the flipside of the transport problem. That is, there isn’t a shortfall in transport system capacity, rather the real problem is an excess of journeys. The submission suggests that part of the solution is to revise the Zoning System which creates dormitory suburbs and distant places of employment and to promote relocalisation and home employment. The submission has been posted to the PSN Noticeboard if you wish to read the full text.

Ryde TAFE Permaculture Courses

Late last year Penny Pyett informed us that Ryde TAFE had made a decision to cease offering Permaculture courses in 2012. This decision could potentially have a serious impact on PSN as many of our members, in the past, completed either an Introduction to Permaculture (Garden Design Permaculture) or Permaculture Design Certificate through Ryde TAFE.

In response we started a Petition protesting this decision and asking that it be reversed and we delivered the petition and a letter to Ryde TAFE on 11 December 2012. Christmas came and went with no response so we wrote again to Mr John Monty, Director Ryde College on 20 February 2012.
To date Mr Monty has not responded. As this matter is too important to give up on without a fight we have now written to Mr Adrian Piccoli, Minister for Education and asked that he intervene in this matter. Our letter points out that, “It is absolutely appalling that the Director of Ryde College refuses to engage with the community that he is supposed to serve and who pay his wages.”

A copy of our letter to the Minister for Education may be viewed on the PSN Noticeboard.

Advocacy Team Meetings

This year the Advocacy Team is meeting on the first Tuesday of odd months. That is the first Tuesday in May, July, September and November. Meetings will be at 3 Yerong Street, Ryde unless otherwise advised, commencing at 7.30pm.

If you cannot make it to a meeting but you have an issue of concern please drop me an email at

Barry Hadaway - Advocacy Team Leader

Living Skills Workshop with Barbara Clark

Olive Workshop

Despite a scarcity of olives due to the unseasonal cold, wet summer and recent frosts as far north as Queensland, we were finally able to source some ‘Spanish Queen’ olives at Marrickville Metro (I had tried local shops as well as the greengrocer at Norton St Leichhardt for ‘Kalamata’ olives but they were not able to supply me with any olives at all. In the past they could always be relied on to have a few boxes, but not this year).

Five of us got together to ‘cure’ the olives. In preparation, we had to either put slits in the olive flesh or crack the olives open by hitting them with a heavy weight … there was a fair bit of smashing of olives – very therapeutic! The olives were then put into a brine solution to remove oleuropein, a bitter glycoside. This method also uses the natural micro flora on the fruit to aid in fermentation so that not only are we able to leach out the bitterness but it also creates lactic acid which is a natural preservative.

We decided to try 2 different processes and assess which we liked the result of:

(1) Keep the olives in brine for 7 days and
(2) Keep the olives in brine for 3 weeks.

At the end of this time, we will flavour the olives with a marinade flavoured with such flavourings as: herbs, spices, olive oil, chilli, lemon zest, lemon juice, wine, vinegar.

We will let you know how they turn out in a couple of month’s time.

The next living sills workshop will be held on Saturday 2nd June. More details available soon on the website.
Permaculture Northern Beaches

The Pittwater Manly Warringah Group has now changed its name to encompass the entire coast from North Head in Manly to the Palm Beach lighthouse.

National Permaculture Day was a resounding success on the Northern Beaches and there was a great turnout and a festive atmosphere at the main event at the New Leaf Nursery in Ingleside.

There were no-dig gardening demonstrations, chicken talks, and delightful aromas wafting from the wood fired pizza oven and organic coffee.

The venue was particularly enjoyed by the kids with plenty of popcorn and friendly resident chickens, ducks and guinea pigs being cuddled.

It seemed a whole new generation learnt how much fun permaculture can be and many went home with a smile on their colourfully painted faces holding newly planted seeds.

Next Meeting - Thursday 24th May

In this workshop we will learn about how to have a productive and diverse kitchen garden throughout Winter. Presented by Horticulturalist Nicholas Crook

Permabee with Costa

Once again, gardening celebrity Costa showed his support for Permaculture Sydney by helping to feed the hungry worker “bees” who transformed a rocky and neglected area of garden into a series of fertile garden beds full of green produce, citrus, berries and herbs.

This month a group worked on the garden of the Forrest family in Allambie Heights (Peter Forrest is an ex Greens councillor for Warringah). An unexpected highlight included the ceremonial releasing of a green tree frog which had hitched a ride in on a mandarin tree from the nursery.

The Forrest family were delighted with the opportunity to get a head start on what at first appeared to be a big project. “It was going to be a long-term project, starting with the frog pond, but when the chance to bid for a permabee came up at Conny Harris's 'Save the Styx' fundraiser, I knew that this was an opportunity to get some help from people who really knew what they were doing”, said Peter in a thank-you to the group.

Besides putting on a great spread of food throughout the day The Forrests also gave thanks for the chance to learn and share knowledge with Costa and all those involved. In a nutshell this is why Permabees are a great way to learn about different growing techniques by putting them in practice and getting to know your fellow permies on a fun filled day.

There are a number of permabees scheduled so please feel welcome to join in. If you are interested in hosting a permabee at your house please let Selena know as she is starting to think of 2013 now. Preference is given to people who have contributed to previous permabees.

Next Permabee - Sat June 16 - Susan Woodward - Narrabeen 10 am to 1pm

Susan has a beautiful lake side spot at Narrabeen. She has been very busy clearing up the front garden and tidying up in the back in preparation of us coming to help with a garden face lift including using an old row boat as a garden bed! This will be a kid friendly event.

Permaculture Northern Beaches meets on the 4th Thursday of every month

Where: Lakeview Hall, Tramshed Arts & Community Centre,
1395A Pittwater Road, Narrabeen
When: 7pm for 7.30pm start
Info: Call Chris Pothof on 0413 154 024 for more information

April Mushroom Picking Trip by Sarah Werk

For the full story please go to our Past Events web page here.

Except for myself, no one in the group had ever been mushroom picking in Australia. We were lucky enough to have the awesome mycologist Meow (Stuart McKellar) as our guide.

When we arrived at Vulcan State Forest, 16 people strode off and quickly disappeared into the pine bush. There were a lot of large holes on the ground and the big animal droppings intrigued me, a kid shouted “they are wombats burrows!”. It was also delightful to find abundant prickly sprawling shrubs of blackberries. They tasted pretty good.

By the time we reappeared at the parking area, everyone was fully loaded with saffron milk caps, slippery jacks and joy on their faces. We stopped at a nearby picnic area, set up the portable kitchen. While the mushrooms were sautéed in a wok, some of us gathered around Meow to read the mushroom books he brought in and to get a mushroom lecture. Some went back to the pine forest next to the reserve to continue their treasure hunting.

The day went fast, everyone was satisfied and went home with loads of mushrooms.

May Mushroom Picking Trip

Margaret Mossakowska, a relatively new PSN member from our Ryde group, has been picking mushrooms since she was a young child in Poland. In Australia she's discovered that some types of delicious mushrooms that are now quite rare in Europe grow in Australian cool climate pine forests. What a joy! Since then for 20 years Margaret has been mushroom picking in various locations around Great Dividing range, then eating, pickling and drying the harvest.

Last Saturday, a group of 11 went mushroom harvesting in the ZigZag Pine forest near Lithgow. The group then cooked up a mushroom and wine stew which they served up and enjoyed with fresh sourdough bread picked up from a local bakery that morning. Margaret demonstrated how to prepare mushrooms for drying and gave everyone a teaser sample of dumplings filled with cooked dried mushrooms that she had prepared earlier.

It was a wonderful day and a great initiation to Permaculture Sydney North for some new members who were attending their first event.

Note from the president: Sincere thanks to both Meow and Margaret for running these two amazingly educational and culturally rich trips at such short notice. Appologies to members for any confusion aroused by some of the emails, Forum and Facebook posts surrounding these two events.
Book Review

THE TRANSITION to a Sustainable and Just World” by Ted Trainer

This book is a must read for anyone interested in understanding more about how the world needs to change in order for human beings to develop a society that is both just and sustainable.
Ted Trainer only briefly presents arguments, with which you would already be familiar; that our current level of consumption is grossly unsustainable and that environmental impacts are reaching crisis levels.
What is highlighted, and is quite sobering, is Ted’s analysis of:

· the massive extent to which humanity has overshot its resource base, and;
· the extent to which the affluence of people living in western consumer societies has been built upon the exploitation of those living in the majority world.

The Pareto Principle operates at a global level with some 80% of the world’s resources being consumed by approximately 20% of the world’s population.

The book explains how even foreign aid to majority world countries entrenches and exacerbates exploitation. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank insist that aid money be used to ‘develop’ export industries in order to generate foreign exchange so that poor countries can buy imports and can repay interest on development loans. However, exports such as coffee beans are sold into buyers markets where prices are set by rich nations & poor countries are left with mediocre returns. Rarely are poor countries free to use aid money to develop food security or to improve education or health services. There is little ‘appropriate’ development.

Not all, however, is doom and gloom. The book identifies practical actions that can be added to the community engagement focus of Transition Towns. The culmination of Transition Town action is the preparation of an Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP).

The focus of “The Transition to a Sustainable and Just World” is broader with relocalisation placed centre stage. Relocalisation is promoted as providing not just food security in a low energy future but also the embryo of ‘Economy B’, being the economy that will take over and give us access to the things we will need to survive (and thrive) when Economy A (the global, consumer, capitalist, growth economy) collapses.

The book also puts the importance of local currencies into perspective. Ted Trainer notes that many people misunderstand the ideas behind creating a local currency. A local currency is of zero value if there is nothing to buy locally. He maintains that the focus has to be on creating local production capacity – on creating a situation where there are local goods and services that are of value to people and which people want to buy.

One overriding message is that a sustainable and just future must of necessity be a very frugal future, in terms of consumption levels. There are simply not enough resources on the planet to support current population levels sustainably at anything other than a very frugal level of existence and such a quantum reduction in consumption and manufacturing is also essential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero.

This is not a book for the faint hearted but I strongly recommend it.

Barry Hadaway – Advocacy Team Leader

If you'd like to recommend any permaculture related books to our members please send a max 300 word review to
PSN Facebook

Our facebook page is rocking! It's an excellent place for finding out what's going on in and around our area in a broader context.

Costa frequently posts here as do other well-known people and organisations.

You can interact with like minded permies to share ideas, pose questions, post interesting articles and find out what courses and events are happening in our region and around the world.

If you would like help in setting up a facebook login please email

Positions Vacant

We’d like to give all members the opportunity to help out and get involved in PSN activities, both as participants, position holders, team members and as casual helpers. We invite anyone interested in taking on the following roles to contact us at

Media Coordinator. We haven’t yet worked this out sufficiently, but we’re certainly interested in hearing from anyone that has skills in photography, videoing, putting together YouTube clips, optimising social media channels. This person would be part of the Communications team but is not a role on the Management Committee directly.

Willoughby & North Sydney Local Group Coordinators. If anyone is from these Council areas and would like to have a go at getting involved, please get in touch. You don’t have to have done this sort of thing before. In fact this year, the Management Committee is going to be investing a lot of energy into resourcing and mentoring our Local Group Coordinators to help them make their groups strong and influential within their local community, if they’re not already of course.

Fundraising Team Leader. This is a role on the Management Committee, and the name is pretty self explanatory. PSN needs money to be able to run great programs, courses, tours and events. Membership fees do not cover all our costs, so we need to apply for grants and use other creative fundraising ideas to keep our group financially healthy. Can you help? Position description is available.

Just asking… Did you know that you, our members, are PSN’s most valuable resources? We know that some of you are worth your weight in gold, but what about all those people who we don’t know so well? Some people have family commitments, or difficulty in getting to meetings, or for whatever reason, we don’t see them or hear from them that often.

If you feel that you would like to get involved but don’t know exactly how, why don’t you let us know, and we can see how we can work that in with what’s going on?

Welcome new PSN members

A big welcome to all our new members since our April meeting.

Hornsby: Carrie R; Flavia L; Lara T; Louise T; Rod T;
Lane Cove: John D;
Northern Beaches: Belinda T; Daniel Y; Sue G; Jeremy W; Leanne W;
Ryde: Brigit P; Gabrielle P; Glenn P; Hilary P; Jan A; Misa Z; Nicholas C;
Other: Caroline C; Julie M; McLaren B; Megan B; Sue Lee L;

For details on local group monthly meetings please refer to the noticeboard or email your local group coordinator or check out the new re-occuring events page (PSN diary) here. .
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