This month at PSN: What biodynamics can do for you; taking our concerns to the streets, and an expert panel agrees that we need to ditch industrial agriculture!

News & Events
June 2016

Rosemary Morrow shares her stories at PSN's monthly gathering in May. (Photo: Cecilia Bird)

The things we do today, if not documented in some way, pass without a trace, disappear in time.

I believe it is important that we record the events and happenings of this great movement that is permaculture, both for the future and also to be shared now with people who could not participate in them. Recording allows us to create permaculture history and to add to a vast library of knowledge about creating a sustainable lifestyle, helping to educate many people.

If you missed the talk by important permaculture elder, Rosemary Morrow, who quietly but powerfully shared stories about her experiences of using permaculture to manage communities in war zones, this talk was professionally filmed. Once the format is sorted out and the video finished, it will appear on a new PSN YouTube channel, recently created to host PSN videos.

Thanks to the digital revolution we can now remember events and share valuable information on the PSN website, PSN Facebook pages, and now through YouTube. I encourage members to contribute their own short videos (for example, reports from Permabees or "how to" films etc) on this channel. Please email if you would like to contribute.

Keep the cameras (and smartphones) rolling this winter!

PS. For the artistically inclined amongst us, PSN will soon advertise a competition for a permaculture-relevant picture to serve as a PSN banner on Facebook and YouTube.

Margaret Mossakowska, President

  Events: Biodynamics & soil fertility
PSN Monthly Gathering

7pm Monday 20th June
Lindfield Community Centre

Have you ever wondered how the knowledge of biodynamics might help you in your garden? Or did you think that it's only appropriate for large-scale farming? 

If you come to our June gathering, you will hear Diane Watkin from Biodynamics Sydney explaining how biodynamics is relevant to home gardeners! This talk will be a great opportunity to learn how to apply biodynamics rules and preparations to improve soil, the most important part of every garden.

Biodynamics brings a timely understanding to the signs of the soil-food-web cycle using nature’s free environmental services, rhythms and patterns, which are practically used to balance degraded and exhausted soils, bring more life forces to the earth, and grow highly nutritious food.

Please join us for supper afterwards, provided by the Hornsby local group.

Kuringai Local Group: Surveying for permies

1.30-4.30pm, Sunday 19th June Lindfield

Surveyor Rolf Cambridge will introduce you to a dumpy-level, help find your contours, show you where to dig swales, and other important stuff!

Register here

Living Skills Workshop: Backyard chickens

2-4pm, Saturday 25th June

If you are thinking about keeping chickens, or already have some but want to see how they are managed in a different setting, this is for you.

Register here.

June Permabee: Chicken runs & frog ponds

10am-4pm, Sunday 26th June Lindfield

Help build a large chicken run that will keep the chickens safe from foxes, and comfortable in all seasons. We will also rebuild a frog pond.

Register here.

News & Other Bits

The Repair Cafe proves that opening umbrellas indoors can be lucky!

Repair Café - umbrellas get a second chance at life!

We set out to bring back from the gutter (or the rubbish bin) some half-dozen orphans from the wild weather last Sunday 6th June. Using pliers to unbend the twisted ribs, and fabric patches glued over holes in the canopy, and replacing missing pins in the mechanism, the refurbished umbrellas will be set for another term of duty this coming wet winter.

The next Repair Cafés will be on Sunday 3rd and Sunday 10th July from 1-3pm, at the Church Hall on the corner of Mowbray Rd and Pacific Highway (opposite the Great Northern Pub, parking at rear). 

For more information call:
Wendy Dwyer 0410 280 912, Wendy Bishop 9420 4884

Diana Watson and Keelah Lam with some borrowed banners at March Against Baird in Sydney.

March Against Baird – Town Hall to Parliament House, 29th May

Sometimes writing letters is not quite enough when there are so many issues at stake and the government does not seem to be listening.

The Greens organised this event in the city with inspiring speakers who spoke about the corruption of the processes of government, the destruction of local communities for new roads, the alienation of public land, and most importantly the need for action on Climate Change.

PSN is a small voice but by joining in with many other groups, we made a statement that the NSW Government would find it hard to miss. Keelah Lam, Barvara Hush, Margaret Mossakowska, Diana Watson, and others, went along to hear the speakers and make our voices heard. We did not have our own banners, but others marchers kindly shared theirs with us.

There were banners identifying many issues that are part of the Permaculture philosophy like:

  • 'Save the Trees' to draw attention to land clearing as a consequence of the shocking new Biodiversity Bill, as well the destruction of 130 year old trees and thousands of Indigenous artefacts for Sydney's light rail project
  • 'Save TAFE' for young people and so that they can run Permaculture courses
  • 'No Coal Seam Gas' and many banners supporting action on Climate Change.

The Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge spoke about issues that are destroying our local communities and taking away the rights of the people to gather together and protest, including:

  • the terrifying new civil liberty laws and the increased power of the NSW Police Force that dangerously affects us all
  • muzzling of the anti-CSG movement via new anti-protest laws
  • the further erosion of our civil liberties via the passing of the Serious Crime Prevention Bill, that can see YOU arrested without charge and kept for 14 days, based on the "hunch'' of a police officer (coinciding with the opening of a brand new PRIVATELY BUILT AND RUN prison in Sydney's south west.)

Advocacy, in particular making sure our interests and concerns are heard by key decision-makers, is important to PSN. If this is something that especially interests you, speak to one of the management team about how you can help.

Diana Watson, Joint Education Team Leader

Diana Evans (Joint Education Team Leader), Sue Patterson, Catherine Batt, Bonita Lloyd, Jenny Wright, Don Agahari, Lalitha Raman, Diana Watson (Joint Education Team Leader).

Presentation of Introduction to Permaculture Course certificates

At our May monthly meeting, we celebrated the presentation of Certificates to six of the students who took part in the recent Introduction to Permaculture course.

The standard of work presented by all students in their plans was really high and worth the hard work and lack of sleep on the night before handing them in. We are looking forward to helping all the students develop their gardens in future permabees. It was a delight to be part of the course with another wonderful group of inspired students.

Diana Watson & Diana Evans, Joint Education Team Leaders

World Environment Day Events postponed! Volunteers still needed!

Due to the crazy weather on the first weekend of June - a stark reminder of exactly what is happening to our environment - both the Permaculture Northern beaches Eco-festival and the City of Ryde Darvall Park festival were postponed.

Volunteers are still needed for the new dates:

1. Permaculture Northern Beaches Spring Eco-Festival - date to be confirmed

12:00–4:00pm, possibly Sunday 25th September at 1 Wilson Avenue, Ingleside

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

For information, updates, and date confirmation, check here.

To volunteer, please contact Matt Wilson: 0410 347 794

2. Permaculture stand at City of Ryde World Discovery Day Festival

10am - 4pm, Sunday 26th June 2016, Darvall Park, Denistone

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

For more about the event, click here.

To volunteer, please contact Margaret on

"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." - Helen Keller

Can you help in these important PSN roles?

Vice President. This role mainly involves supporting the President (stepping in to chair our monthly Lindfield meetings, for example) and working with the Management Committee to organise and co-ordinate speakers for these meetings.

Open Gardens Co-ordinator. This involves organising two or three open garden events for PSN members each year. These could be in members' gardens or community gardens. You will work with the Garden Team and the owners to set up a date, and organise a Permabee to help prepare (if needed).

Do you know about our website noticeboard?

Do you do use internet and email but not Facebook? Do you have interesting information that you want to share online with other members? Are you in the middle of a Permaculture project and desperately need advice from more experienced members?

If so, there is a solution for you! On the PSN website, there is a button under the banner titled Noticeboard, which is for member's messages about PSN activities.  To go to this button, click here. You must be logged in as a member to create a topic or post. You can subscribe to email notifications like any regular forums.

Sue Patterson, Communications Team Leader

World News: New report on sustainable food

Experts agree: It's time to leave industrial agriculture behind!

Earlier this month the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) produced a report called From Uniformity to Diversity: A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecolological systems.

Why should you care? Because it is aligned with Permaculture principles:

"What is required is a fundamentally different model of agriculture based on diversifying farms and farming landscapes, replacing chemical inputs, optimizing biodiversity and stimulating interactions between different species, as part of holistic strategies to build long-term fertility, healthy agro-ecosystems and secure livelihoods i.e. 'Diversified agroecological systems." (IPES-food report)

The IPES-Food, launched in 2015, is an independent panel that works to inform the debate on how to reform food systems and is made up of environmental scientists, development economists, nutritionists, agronomists and sociologists, as well as experienced practitioners from civil society and social movements.

I've been following the work of IPES-Food co-chair Olivier De Schutter (pictured) ever since he caught my attention as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food (2008-2014). He's a wise human.

Olivier points out:
“It is not a lack of evidence holding back the agroecological alternative. It is the mismatch between its huge potential to improve outcomes across food systems, and its much smaller potential to generate profits for agribusiness firms.” 

The report offers strategies for breaking this corporate agribusiness strangle-hold and offers solutions to making the transition to sustainable food production.

I highly recommend reading the
16-page Executive Summary here. Nicely written with lots of good graphics, facts and figures.

You can find the full report, and other reports & videos here:

Cat Dorey, newsletter editor and sustainable food campaigner

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.