This month at PSN: A sad farewell to a great friend, teacher and inspiring human, Bill Mollinson, and a load of courses to help you continue his legacy!

News & Events
October 2016

Bill Mollison.Bill Mollinson, ecologist and founder of permaculture (Photo: Craig Sillitoe)

The community of PSN was very sad to hear that one of the founders of permaculture, Bill Mollinson, died last month at his home in Hobart, aged 88. We extend our condolences, love, and thoughts to his wife Lisa and family.

Many at PSN have never met Bill, but his teaching has touched and changed our lives, along with millions of others around the world. What an amazing legacy!

Bill worked with David Holmgren to weave together concepts and ideas from a variety of cultures around the world to create permaculture. These ideas spread through his books, education courses, and the permaculture communities that have grown and continue to practice and teach permaculture around the globe.

Ian Lillington wrote a beautiful obituary for Bill in the Sydney Morning Herald, which you should read here. Ian describes Bill an incorrigible optimist who wanted to restore the Garden of Eden – for everyone, "not for our children, but for us, now!" I'm grateful to Bill for the vision of recreating Eden, snakes and all!

Thank you Bill Mollinson, with all our hearts. We promise to continue your amazing work. RIP - Rejoice in Permaculture!

Cat Dorey, Editor

Upcoming Regular Events

PSN Monthly Gathering
Living Soil with Lee Fieldhouse

7pm Monday 17th October
Lindfield Community Centre

Lee Fieldhouse has been doing some awesome experiments with the role of biostimulants in soil mediums to create a living soil potting medium that can sustain growth in a limited environment. Want to hear about his extensive research and his amazing vermiculture projects?

In 2013, when Lee purchased land on Oxley Island (near Taree), he intended to grow organic vegetables for the local market. But it was pretty poor soil and Lee wanted to use the 12-acre property to grow vegetables, so he explored ways to improve his soil’s fertility.

He investigated various methods of soil improvement, including growing and mulching green crops, adding compost, applying compost teas, etc, but most of these were either too expensive or nonviable. However, when he started looking at the enormous benefits of adding biology through living microbes, he became fascinated by the work of the humble compost worm.

From an initial purchase of 10 kg of mixed compost worms and one worm bed under a shady tree, Lee has grown the business into a 600-square-metre greenhouse containing 30 stacking beds, two floor beds and two 19 metre-long mechanised cast harvest beds which, when combined hold close to 1 tonne (4,000,000) of worms, all working very efficiently to create beautiful worm cast.

From there his business has grown to be a leading supplier and manufacturer of liquid vermicast biostimulants and associated products. His signature product, Biocast+ liquid biostimulant is achieving great results in many and various fields of horticulture, agriculture, floriculture, landscaping and home gardens.

In our October meeting, Lee will talk about how he set up his own mini laboratory and the findings of his research and field trials - all of which have given him many insights and understanding into the future of working with the humble worm.

For a sneak preview of Lee's research and vermiculture website, go to Islands in the Stream.

Free for members free, $5 for guests. 

Doors open at 6:30pm - a good time to check out our members library, seed saving table, the swap table, and buy plants and produce from other members.

Please join us for supper after the main event, provided by our Hornsby group.

PNB Monthly: Traditional bush plants & their uses

7.15pm Thurs 27th October Warriewood

Jess Sinnott, owner of Koori Kinnections, will talk about traditional bush plants and their uses as food and medicine. She will also bring a few delicious dishes to sample.

More here.

October Permabee: A new permaculture garden

10-4pm, Sun 23rd October
North Turramurra

Filipa recently completed the PSN Introduction to Permaculture course, and is very keen to start transforming her garden. Plans are underway will be on the website soon.

Register here.

Workshop: Building & firing a small wood kiln 

10am-5pm, Sat 19th Nov

Artist Chris Suttie will show us how to build & fire a small woodfired kiln using common house bricks. We will also have a permabee in Chris & Cat's garden at the same time.

More here.

News & Special Events

Bridget repairs and adjusts jewellery at the Repair Cafe.

Repair Café: Coming to the Lindfield meeting on 21st November!

In a one-off event The Repair Café is coming to us! It will be a special event at our monthly gathering at Lindfield Community Centre, from 7pm on 21st November.

Via a short presentation, find out how the café was set up, bring something to be repaired, and enjoy the refreshments - all to the sound of musical entertainment.

Wendy’s coffee machine will be in full flow before 7:30pm – you can choose decaf or full strength and of course there will be a selection of goodies including Wendy’s gluten-free delights using produce from her garden along with contributions from members of the Willoughby local group. Donations for coffee welcome.

Register, at the event, for items you would like to have repaired. Repairs are completed for a donation. Even if you do not have an item to repair, come along to feel the vibe, connect with permies and enjoy the other activities taking place.

Seed-savers, the library and Sell, Swap & Share will also be running with the flexibility of time to make good use of these opportunities - something for everyone.

You do not have to have an item for repair to attend this event, but if you do it will help. The following are on offer:

  • repair of small appliances
  • sewing
  • jewellery
  • shoes
  • tools/knives sharpening
  • advice on use of smartphone/ computer Internet 

Please note, owing to the noise of the machines, wooden item repairs will continue at the regular repair café events in Chatswood (1st two Sundays of the month).

It’s going to be a buzz, see you there!

Digging swales in Libby Crichton's garden - learn what, why, and how in an upcoming course!

Introduction to Permaculture Certificate – Weekend Intensive

This two-day intensive course covers topics from gardening, sustainable housing, soil, site analysis, permaculture design, and zoning. It is a great overview of permaculture and will enable you to take the next steps to incorporate this into your life. It is also a prerequisite for the PDC (see below).

You will receive a Introduction to Permaculture (ITP) certificate and a copy of the late great Bill Mollison's book Introduction to Permaculture.

The course will be at Kimbriki Eco House and Garden at Ingleside (just off Mona Vale Road). This allows for practical exercises in the garden. The Eco Garden has an established permaculture garden, native bee hive, aquaponics, compost toilets, straw bale/hempcrete and buildings comprised of recycled materials.

Teachers are Peter Rutherford senior ecologist at Kimbriki and Michelle (Elle) Sheather ecologist, qualified permaculture teacher, and coordinator Permaculture Northern Beaches. Special guest teacher is biologist and Permaculture Sydney North President, Margaret Mossakowska.

When: 9:30am - 4:30pm on 29th & 30th October, at Kimbriki Eco house & Garden

Cost: $290 for members, $330 for non-members, concessions available for students, pensioners, and unemployed.

For bookings please contact: Elle Sheather

Learning about designing a permaculture garden in Lucinda's small townhouse garden.

Introduction to Permaculture Certificate - Seven Saturday mornings

Most of us have already made a start on creating a sustainable environment in our homes or our places of work. This course gives you the skills to make a plan that is tailor-made for your needs and overcomes the challenges of your garden.

You will learn how two of our best friends, chickens and worms, can help you recycle your waste, fertilise your soil, provide you with food and manage many of your pest control problems. You will learn how to deal with a steep block, manage and harvest water falling on your land or flowing in from next door ready for use in an aquaculture system to grow fish and vegetables. You will explore the alternative ways of using your space and stacking in more productive plants and trees for your enjoyment.

Please come and join us for this new Intro course starting in November and continuing in February in time for the Permaculture Design Course in March. Many participants have told us it has changed their lives – could it do the same for you?

We are offering 12 places for this Intro course which is brought to you by PSN members who have donated their time for your education.

Dates: Saturday mornings, 9am - 1pm on
November 12, 19, 26 in 2016 and February 4, 11, 18, 25 in 2017.

Cost: $250. Bookings here.

Please contact Diana Watson or Di Evans for more information:

Permaculture Design Certificate - March & April 2017

Have you been dreaming about having a permaculture property or teaching permaculture? Well, we have just the course for you. PSN and PNB are finalising the details for a Permaculture Design Course (PDC).

John Champagne will be the lead teacher. John has many stories to tell of his experiences developing his own property from scratch, including how he made all the mud bricks for his house, which you can see on his biography web page.

The 72‑hour residential course uses Bill Mollison’s Permaculture: A Designers Manual as the text book. It is an excellent book with outstanding diagrams and tables to make the learning experience easier and would make an excellent Christmas present.

This course is for all permies who have completed an Introduction to Permaculture certificate. It is particularly good for permies who would like to teach permaculture or dream of having a larger property.

What you learn in the course will help you to:

  • choose the property most suitable for your needs
  • create a design that helps you take advantage of the excellent features of your land
  • remediate any degraded parts of the property
  • create solutions for the problem parts of the property.

When: 20 March to 1 April 2017

Where: Glengarry - Girl Guides NSW & ACT’s State Training & Outdoor Centre, North Turramurra

Booking: Some details of the course are still to be finalised and bookings will open on the PSN website on 20th October.

We were inspired by the idea of an "anti-aviary" on a recent tour.

Have you been on, or would you like to go on a PSN tour?

One of the best ways to learn more about permaculture is to visit a property. Many of us have enjoyed visiting each others permaculture gardens and have been inspired by the creative solutions of our fellow permies.

A few of us can recall visiting larger properties on a recent PSN tour where we saw permaculture on a larger scale. None of us had seen a Maremma guard dog (photo right) before or a biodynamic vineyard. And rabbit farming, large chicken tractors, and anti-aviaries were an inspiration to us all!

There have been at least seven tours organised by PSN over the years, and if there is sufficient interest, we would like to organise another one.

Preparing a tour information resource
As part of the preparation, we would like to collate the itineraries and contact details of the properties visited in the past.
It would be valuable to create an electronic document of all the tours, with photos identifying the permaculture features, for all members to use. This will be shared with other permaculture groups to form a resource for everyone. In 2008, at the Australasian Permaculture Convergence (APC9), Bill Mollison told us to document everything and this project could be our contribution to that process.

We can then create several itineraries and organise some tours starting early next year.

If you would like to take part in this group activity or contribute tour itineraries, contact details, or photographs taken on earlier tours, please contact Diana Watson or Di Evans at the next meeting or by email.

A netted tunnel protects plants.

Diana Watson & Di Evans, Education Team Leaders

Personalise your Christmas gifts this year - Sunday 20th November

It might be only October, but you know it will be Christmas in a blink of an eye, so come to our gift making session in Lindfield, and personalise your Christmas gifts.

Ideas so far are:

Potting orchids – bring your own pretty pots or decorate a plain plastic one with paint or spray paint. We have a large bursting pot of Lady’s slipper (Cypripedium) orchids which need dividing. We will provide the orchid potting mix and spray paint for a small refund.

Making herbal vinegar and oils - Jill Fisher knows an awful lot about herbs and she will be there to consult and advise. Start collecting attractive bottles and bring what herbs you have.

Making herb sachets - Herbs can also be sewn into sachets to sweeten up cupboards and drawers, and to deter unwanted insect visitors. Add them to a Christmas card to make a special greeting. Bring some herbs to share and scraps of fine materials to make bags.

Other ideas for crafty Christmas gifts are welcome.

Join the Ku-ring-gai local group in Lindfield at 2pm on Sunday 20th November - full details provided on registration here.

Di Evans: 94161896
Diana Watson:  94162929

Photo gallery: Spring fruit babies

Since Spring has sprung, here are some photos of some of Stephanie Robertson's beautiful fruit babies. She is, off course, not sure how many will reach adulthood what with all the possums, birds, flying foxes and diseases, but you never know!

Thanks for reading to the end! With appreciation from all this month's contributors and editor, Cat Dorey. Your prize is seeing this rare Tunacorn!

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