This month at PSN: The frogs are loving Spring in our backyard - our nights are full of frog calls and our ponds are full of tadpoles! How about yours?

News & Events
September 2016

Crop Swap Sydney joins Margaret in her garden on Sustainable House Day  (Photo: Crop Swap Sydney)

In 2012, the Stockholm Water Institute calculated that 100,000 litres of water is used to grow food consumed by an average Australian in 10 days - that's 3.6 million litres per person per year!

Add to this the fuel used to power farming machinery, food transport and storage, and the energy and chemicals used in farming and to produce plastic packaging, and suddenly having rainwater tanks and passive cooling home design seem to make a very small contribution to a household's sustainability.

For this reason, my goal for Sustainable House Day, celebrated across Australia on 11th September, was to educate people about growing food as the main contributor to household sustainability - better than just having solar panels and rainwater tanks. It is our food choices which make our lifestyles grossly unsustainable. 

I encouraged visitors to my home to get interested in permaculture (as the ultimate sustainable way of living), to start growing food, to swap it with friends and neighbours, and buy locally and from local organic farmers. I invited the Crop Swap Sydney group (more information at the end of this newsletter) as they served as a great an example of one of the food solutions.

Many of the visitors - 139 adults and 27 children - were surprised at how many useful products (food preserves, medicines and cosmetic use) can be made from garden-grown plants. Very few of them expected that fibers such as luffa and cotton can be grown in Sydney!

Margaret Mossakowska, President

Upcoming Events

PSN Monthly Gathering

7pm Monday 19th September
Lindfield Community Centre

Kathy Potter from the Frog and Tadpole Society will share her extensive knowledge of frogs, tadpoles, and frog ponds.

  • How do you identify the different  kinds of frogs in your local area?
  • Which frogs are most common in northern Sydney?
  • How do you create a healthy environment for frogs and tadpoles?
  • If you build a frog pond, what will attract your local frogs to move in?
  • Is it a good idea to get tadpoles from another area?
  • If you have fish, will they eat your tadpoles?
  • How do you keep a frog pond clean and avoid breeding lots of mosquitoes?
If you want to know the answer to these questions, or have questions of your own, come along to find out the answers!

Free for members free, $5 for guests. 

Doors open at 6:30pm - a good time to check out our members library, the swap table, and buy plants and produce from other members. Note that there we be a range of permaculture-related books for sale so don't forget your cash! And finally, we will have a seed-saving table - more information below.

Please join us for supper after the main event.

PNB Monthly: Cecilia Macaulay's Home Design

7.15pm Thurs 22nd September Warriewood

Learn design principles for your home, inspired by the simple elegance found in Japanese culture & Cecilia’s experiences of applying permaculture design with creativity.

More here.

September Permabee: Dee Why

10-4pm, Sun 25th September
Dee Why

Help us improve a water irrigation system, revitalise the aquaponics, complete a raised garden bed, plant seedlings, prune fruit trees and more while enjoying the sea air!

Register here.

Festival: Fagan Park Sustainable Garden Day

11am-3pm, Sat 1st October

Join us at our PSN stall to encourage and educate the public in Permaculture, in the wonderful setting of Fagan Park Eco Garden - plenty of time to help us & to explore! More below.

Register here.

News & Other Bits

Fagan Park Eco Garden (Photo: Cat Dorey)

Spring Festival Fun - October is buzzing!

Being part of festivals is a great way to get to know other PSN members, meet other community groups, as well as to introduce the public to the wonders of permaculture. We need helpers at the following festivals.

Fagan Park Sustainable Garden Day - Saturday 1st October

11am - 3pm Fagan Park Eco Garden, Arcadia Road, Galston

Come for an hour, or several hours - any time you can assist on the PSN Stall is most welcome. The lovely Eco garden is set within the range of international gardens of Fagan Park. There will be a range of stalls, displays, talks, tours, kids' activities, and giveaways - plenty to inspire you to get out and get creative in your own garden!

To help, please register online here & the team will contact you.

Granny Smith Festival - Saturday 15th October

9am - 8.30 pm in Eastwood Town Centre

The annual Granny Smith Festival celebrates the life and legacy of one of our district’s most famous citizens, Maria Ann Smith - aka Granny Smith - who, back in 1868, ‘accidentally’ grew the first batch of little green apples that bear her name and are now grown all over the world. 

The Festival began in 1985 and is now regarded as one of Sydney’s largest street festivals, a true community carnival, full of colour, and good old fashioned fun. It attracts over 80,000 people each year and is supported by local businesses, sporting and service organisations, schools and the wider community. PSN has been a regular part of this festival, and we need some helping hands!

More on the festival here

To help, please contact Diana Fletcher: 9888 6197

Sue's completed frog pond. (Photo: Sue Patterson)

Transformation in Pennant Hills - August Permabee

After attending the PSN Introduction to Permaculture course in early 2016, I was delighted to have the opportunity to have a PSN permabee at my place in late August. It definitely helped to have drawn up a detailed permaculture plan for my property and I chose to use the working bee to build a banana circle and a frog pond. I had to be super-organised to prepare for the day, but that was a good exercise in knowing exactly which supplies were needed and what had to be done.

Thanks to all 11 wonderful helpers, both projects were completed on the day, and they’re exactly what I envisaged, if not better.

Since the permabee, I’ve added more rocks, plants, and tadpoles to the pond, and it actually looks like it has been there forever (photo above).

Meanwhile, the green manure planted around the banana circle is now starting to come through and I’m sure that those banana palms have already grown by at least 20-30 cm in the last couple of weeks (photos left and below).

I would definitely recommend that all Introduction course graduates try to have a Permabee at their place while they still have the energy and enthusiasm from the many ideas generated by the course.

A Permabee is a great way to knock over some of your larger projects that are hard to do without help. It’s also a very satisfying way to progress quickly with your plans.

Sue Patterson, Communications Team Leader

Mike Hayden entertains the crowds beside his boat wicking bed. (Photo: Sue Patterson)

Sustainable House Day Bus Tour

I was lucky enough to be one of 20 local residents on the Sustainable House Day bus tour run by Hornsby Council on 11th September. (Lucky because there were more than 70 people on the waiting list!)

We visited two houses on this tour - one was a model new build in Schofields (used to educate and promote sustainable CSR products) and the other (Urban Tilba in Seven Hills) was an older house that had been retrofitted by the permaculture owners who are into serious recycling and alternative energy.

Whilst the CSR House featured many innovative, sustainable and efficient products and a great range of great sustainable design features, I personally found it way too “normal” and box-like for my taste. But then, it has been deliberately designed to appeal to the average project home buyer and I certainly don’t fit into that category! You can see more here.

The second house we visited was much more my style. The house is 100% self-sufficient for energy with lifetime batteries for home energy storage and a well-established permaculture garden with chickens, 40 fruit trees, and various vegetable beds including a wicking bed in a wooden boat. Mike Haydn, the very entertaining home owner, also runs workshops titled “Going off the Grid”, “Living with Batteries” and “DIY Solar”. You can learn more about his home here.

Check out for details of his workshops and heaps of free information on renewable energy.

Sue Patterson, Communications Team Leader

Seed-Saving at our Lindfield Monthly Meetings

For the September meeting, there will be a seed saving table at the hall.

As a starter, and for this meeting only, Permaculture Northern Beaches are generously lending us their seed collection. The seeds are packaged and labelled, and members may have them for a small donation. $1.00 is suggested. The money goes towards purchase of seed packets, etc.

PSN used to have a great seed-saving team - it’s an important part of permaculture. We would love to have a group of enthusiastic people to continue the tradition, and to have a stall each month. If you are interested, talk to the people on the table. 

To start our own collection, please bring any surplus seeds you have saved, labelled with the plant name, variety if possible, where it was grown, and the date of harvest. Please also bring any cuttings or spare small plants in pots, which others might like to swap or buy.

Either swap your seeds or plants for others, or take and donate $1.00. Cheap!!

Diana Evans, Education Team Co-Leader

Students learn about wicking beds on PSN's recent Introduction to Permaculture course.

Permaculture Design Certificate - March & April 2017

PSN is collaborating with Permaculture Northern Beaches (PNB) and has invited John Champagne to deliver a Permaculture Design Certificate Course (PDC)
from 20th March to 1st April 2017.

John is one of Australia's principle permaculture teachers with over 10 years teaching experience, and 20 plus years of active involvement in the permaculture movement in Australia and Asia.

Other local teachers will support John in this two-week residential course in North Turramurra. Places are limited so book early.

The course is based on Bill Mollison’s Permaculture: A Designers' Manual. You might wish to search out a bargain copy early, or put it on your Christmas wish list, and start dipping into the wonderful content.

For enquiries contact:

Further course details are available here.

Our Governments often seem rather disconnected from the people. (Photo: Cat Dorey).

Do you wish the Government would listen to you?

How often do you think that you'd like to offer a suggestion to the Government about how things could be improved? This sentence is phrased in a positive and solution-orientated way, rather than a complaining negative way, for a good reason: the recognition, identification, and acknowledgement of a problem is a healthy first step to finding a solution, and permaculture people like to find solutions and then share them!

Creating an Advocacy Team
For permies who would like to offer solutions to Local, State, and Federal governments on behalf of PSN, please consider joining the Education Team for a discussion about our modest experiences in lobbying and suggesting campaigns. This could lead to forming a group of people who can work together to craft letters and submissions to relevant government agencies - a new Advocacy Team.

PSN engaging with Government
In the past, the Advocacy Team has met with local councillors, State and Federal MPs, and written short letters through to lengthy submissions to MPs and various Government inquiries.

As it happens, what prompted me to write this was coming across a submission about the National Food Plan written in 2012 by Barry Hadaway, previously Advocacy Team Leader at PSN. Barry’s submission may be accessed at here. This is one of Barry’s longer submissions, but short letters are often more appropriate and would be a good place to start.

Letters and submissions do not have to be written from scratch. There are many examples of other submissions available and this is a really good opportunity for a small team of people to craft some elegant letters.

If you think this could be you, please contact Diana Watson or Diana Evans directly or at or talk to us at the next meeting.

Diana Watson, Education Team Co-Leader

Inspiration from Like-Minded Friends

Crop Swap Sydney

Meet your neighbours, swap excess produce, and fairly barter with other like-minded people for fresh, local, and delicious food.

Crop Swap Sydney aims to build a community for people to come together, reduce food waste and help each other eat better, at a lesser cost.

We also have an associated growing community that offers free Sydney-centric tips, "how-to" videos, and expert advice for any problems that you may encounter. Find it here:

Here are some examples of past swaps: honey, eggs, fruit, vegetables, herbs, seeds, edible plants, use of a food dehydrator, babaganoush, worm tea, fertiliser, pots and many more. Show us what you've got to offer!

Biodynamic Gardening Courses

Transform your backyard into a biodynamic veggie feast! Two courses available:

  • Cammeray: 10.30 - 1pm, three Tuesdays: October 11, 18 and 25
  • Blakehurst: 10.30 - 1pm, three Sundays: October 16, 23 and 30

The courses cover basic gardening with practical, ‘hands-on’ techniques using premium biodynamic practices:

  • Premium soil fertility
  • Simple and inexpensive biodynamic preparations for total soil care and protection from pests and diseases
  • Planting  - what, when and where
  • Seed saving, sharing, and the biodynamic Earth Seed Bank

Cost: $100 for 3 day course, payable in advance

Registration: Phone 9550 1682 or email

Course facilitator: Diane Watkin, Biodynamic Horticulturalist

Thanks for reading to the end! With appreciation from all this month's contributors, and the newsletter editor, Cat Dorey.

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.