This month at PSN: People inspiring people - a night with Permaculture Pioneer Rosemary Morrow; meet prize-winning member Robyn Crossland; and much more!

News & Events
May 2016

Robyn displays her award-winning produce & ribbons at a recent PSN meeting. (Photo: Stephanie Robertson)

People inspiring people seems to be the theme of this month's newsletter, so who better to start with than one of our own inspirational members!

Robyn Crosland is one of the first people I met when I joined PSN, and her infectious enthusiasm is one of the reasons I stay. She is an active member in the Central Coast permaculture community, and she's also a regular at our monthly Lindfield and Northern Beaches meetings. She usually comes bearing goodies she has made from her permaculture garden and various treasures rescued from landfill. Robyn is a wealth of ideas for re-purposing other people's waste into useful things - if you ever find something you think looks useful, but aren't sure what you'd do with it, ask Robyn.

Many of us are great fans of Robyn's honey, so it was good to hear we are not the only people who think she is a winner. Robyn and her bees have distinguished themselves by winning multiple awards at the recent Sydney Royal Easter Show in the Small Producers (less than 20 hives) Category:

  • First Prize for Yellow Beeswax (>1kg <3.5kg)
  • Second Prize for Yellow Beeswax (>1kg <3.5kg)
  • Third Prize Granulated Honey (Candied)

Robyn also won the overall Champion Small Producers Exhibit - Other and the Supreme Champion Small Producer Awards. I think I can speak for all of us when I say congratulations Robyn, we are proud of you!

For more inspiration, read on!

Cat Dorey, Editor

  Events: An Evening with Rowe Morrow
PSN Monthly Gathering

7pm Monday 16th May
Lindfield Community Centre

Rosemary 'Rowe' Morrow considers permaculture to be ‘sacred knowledge’ to be carried and shared with others. For over 40 years she has taken this knowledge to people in Africa, Central and Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe.

She has a special commitment to working with people of war-torn countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, and Bosnia and recently returned from Afganistan.

As well as teaching permaculture, Rowe is also a teacher of teachers, and has trained some of our own PSN members. She is the co-founder of The Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute with Lis Bastian.

Many members rate Rowe's permaculture books as their favourite source of knowledge - The Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture and The Earth User’s Guide to Teaching Permaculture. Rowe is also one of the 26 contributors to Permaculture Pioneers - Stories from the New Frontier. 

Join PSN on Monday 16th May to be inspired by Rowe and her stories.

The graduating students from our Autumn 2016 Introduction to Permaculture Course will also have their certificates presented on the night.

Permabee: Fagan Park Ecogarden
1-4.30 pm, Sun 15th May

Help design and build a herb spiral.

Register here.

Living Skills Workshop: Herbal Extracts & Cream
2-4 pm, Sat 21st May

Make your own herbal moisturiser.

Register here.

PNB May Gathering: The Oldest Foods on Earth
7.15pm, Thur 26th May

Learn about & sample indigenous foods.

More here.

News & Other Bits

Judy tames the weeds and tidies the herbs at the April permabee. Photo: Cecilia Bird

Many hands make... slightly lighter work - Permabee in Denistone

Eleven permies came to the Permabee on Sunday, 24th April to help Chris and I to build a new chicken enclosure and to tidy up the garden before we opened it to the public for the International Permaculture Day (see below).

It was so inspiring to see so many people willing to help and working on various tasks in our garden! In this large garden there was something to do to suit everyone's abilities.

A team of four worked on the new chicken enclosure: clearing the old one, levelling the area, and concreting-in support poles. With the framework in place, it was easy for us to finish building the fence.

Others took turns to bring wheelbarrows of woodchips from the driveway up to top up a swale and to cover the barren ground in the chicken garden. We moved about 5 cubic metres of mulch from the bottom to the top - that's 11 metres in elevation!

Another group set to weed and tidy up the productive vegetable garden and remove kikuyu grass growing up between the pavers along one of footpaths. Meanwhile a big bunch of ginger lilies was chopped for compost. A front garden area along the ramp leading to the garden gate was weeded, covered with newspapers and mulched. It looks so much tidier now. Thanks everyone!

Margaret Mossakowska, President & Living Skills Leader (Photos: Cecilia Bird)

IPD celebrities at Moss House - Margaret, Lucinda and Costa. Photo: Cat Dorey

Opening gardens & hearts on International Permaculture Day

Despite an overcast and grey start to the day, the 1st of May turned out to have fine weather, attracting over 130 curious and interested visitors to Margaret and Chris' (Moss House) and Lucinda’s gardens. We made over $400 for PSN from entrance fees, refreshments, and sales of plant and sustainable goodies.

At Lucinda's small townhouse garden, Stephanie and Cat welcomed visitors and set them off on a self-guided tour, with Lucinda there to great them in her stunning Zone 1 kitchen garden to answer questions.

At Moss House, visitors were keen to join Margaret's guided tours, but many were also happy to wander around the gardens to look at and photograph the gardens at their own pace. There were also 3 talks (on permaculture, biodynamics and healing herbs). As an added bonus, Costa (of Gardening Australia fame) dropped in at Margaret’s to add his support to the world of permaculture.

Thanks to Margaret, Chris, and Lucinda for all their hard work preparing for the big day, and for all those who helped at before and during the day. Who's inspired to open their garden in September for Sustainable House Day?

Cat Dorey & Sue Patterson, Communications Team (Photos: Cat)

Volunteers needed for World Environment Day Events

Volunteers are needed for two permaculture events on World Environment Day on 5th June – one at Ingleside and one at Denistone.

1. Permaculture Northern Beaches Eco-Festival

12:00–4:00pm, Sunday 5th June 5, 2016 at 1 Wilson Avenue, Ingleside

Volunteers for this large event are needed to help with simple tasks such as helping on the welcome desk, promoting PNB/PSN, selling raffles, collecting donations, selling cakes etc.

For festival details, click here.

To volunteer, please contact Matt Wilson: 0410 347 794

2. Permaculture stand at City of Ryde World Environment Day festival

Sunday, June 5, 2016, Darvall Park, Denistone

Margaret Mossakowska would appreciate help from one or two experienced permies who could answer questions about permaculture.

To volunteer, please contact Margaret on

The intrepid mushroom hunters with their bounty.

The Great Annual Wild Mushroom Hunt

The weeks and weeks of dry weather we have had this autumn were no friends to  mushrooms and added a whole new level of difficulty to organising the hunt! The distinct absence of mushrooms caused several date changes for our yearly Wild Mushroom Hunt, but we finally made it out on 7th May!

A group of 25 PSN members guided by Peter Pezzolesi and Margaret Mossakowska went far afield, to pine forests beyond Oberon to find some exquisite Saffron Milk Cups and Slippery Jacks. Peter cooked them to perfection for lunch, which was devoured with applause, and we took the rest of our bounty home.

There are lots of photos of the day on our PSN Facebook page.

Margaret Mossakowska, President & Living Skills Leader

Cartoon by Wendy Bishop

Bashers or slashers? Workshop transforms olives & participants

Autumn is the season when boxes of raw olives appear in the fruitshops. Alasdair Stuart led a Living Skills Workshop in April on how to turn these raw, bitter fruits into the tasty treats we like to eat. 

Attendees learned the two main methods of preparing olives for the brine jars.  Deep cuts give an olive that holds its shape and keeps well, but takes longer to reach edibility. The crushing method gives an olive that needs less time in the brine and is ready to eat sooner, but doesn’t keep as well.

A dozen enthusiastic members from distant permie groups (and a few new members) kept up the flow of conversation, home tips, garden hints, and enjoyed each other's company. 

For queries about olive processing at home: Alasdair 9420 4884.

Alasdair Stuart & Wendy Bishop, Willoughby group

Sunshine & abundance at Moss House. Photo: Cat Dorey

Not enough inspiration for you yet?

This great short video from Ted Talks gave me goosebumps - people taking action and inspiring others click on the title or search for it on

Pam Warhurst: How we can eat our landscapes.

"I have seen the power of small actions."

"We did not consult, we did not write a report...we did it all without a flippin' strategy document."

  Resources - Cheapies & Freebies


Freebies for gardeners, re-users, and composters:

1. Stacks of hessian sacks - great to cover compost heaps, worm farms, to suppress grass and to build no-dig gardens.

2. Bags of coffee chaff (that's dried husks of coffee beans) - for composting, to mulch your garden or as chicken bedding.

To pick up just drop in to Pablo & Rusty Coffee Roasters at 3 Plassey Road, North Ryde, between 8am-5pm on workdays.

Don't forget to ask your local cafes for used coffee grounds, which are a perfect, high-nitrogen component of compost.They make plenty of "black gold" when mixed with high-carbon materials, such as fallen autumn leaves

International Bulk Containers to fabulous garden features

IBCs are standard 1,000 L plastic containers in metal frames which can be used as rainwater tanks or house fish in aquaponic systems. The frames alone have many uses, such as composting bays or firewood storage.

If you are interested in buying used containers for $30 each, please contact Lynda on

The company she works for sells IBCs previously used to transport water-based personal lubricants which washes away easily.

Margaret Mossakowska, President & Living Skills Leader

MISSED SOMETHING? There are many more upcoming events listed on our website and lots more news & fun things on our Facebook group page. Sign up for the Northern Beaches newsletter here.