This month at PSN: It's Christmas time! Find out what is happening with permculture in Kashmir and join us at one of the many Christmas events!

News & Events
December 2017

Rowe Morrow with her Permaculture Design Certificate students in Kashmir (Back row, 3rd from right).

Here we are at the end of another year of permaculture in PSN and what a great year it has been, with a wide range of meetings, courses, and activities. I would like to thank all the volunteers whose time, energy, enthusiasm, and expertise have made all these things possible. Without them there is no PSN.

If you have been a member for three years or more and haven’t volunteered yet, maybe it’s time to step up for 2018 by joining the Management Committee or by volunteering your time and/or skills! For PSN to comply with requirements, it is essential that the four office bearer roles are filled: President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. To function effectively all other roles need filling too. You can nominate for a role prior to, or at, the AGM in December. The meeting will include some fun activities too, so come and join us (details below).

PSN takes a break over the summer to give everyone time to enjoy the warmer weather. Activities recommence in February, with plans already underway for another inspiring and informative year. We look forward to your continued participation.

Following the screening of the film SEED last month, we hope to revamp the seed collection at PSN in 2018. Experienced seed-savers are willing to demonstrate their skill and knowledge to increase the collection. There are many ways to get involved: become an active advocate for open-pollinated seed; propagate heritage and heirloom seeds; enjoy the company of like-minded people every fourth Saturday morning at Bidjiwong council nursery in Baulkham Hills; and more!

Will you be making a New Year’s resolution based on sustainability and permaculture? Here are some ideas, large and small, you could consider:

  • Plant more flowers to attract beneficial insects
  • Promote permaculture to the wider community
  • Take a permaculture course
  • Learn new living skills
  • Find out about a sustainable activity and give a 5 minute presentation at a monthly meeting
  • Advocate for change - local, state, or nationwide.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all, see you in 2018!

Cecilia Bird, President

  Regular Events
PSN Monthly Gathering:
AGM & Christmas Party

7pm Monday 15th May
Lindfield Community Centre

Join us to celebrate what we have achieved in 2017, welcome our new and returning Management Committee members, and share in our festive treats at our PSN Christmas Party!!

Activities for the night include a Fruit Auction with all donations going to PSN. So bring some $$$ and get ready to bid!

And... we will be holding our Inaugural Tomato Tasting Event! This is your chance to try tomatoes that are advertised in seed catalogues but are not often available in regular supermarkets.

Wear something festive and please bring a plate of food to share. Please avoid all single-use packaging including foil and cling wrap and bring your own cup to minimize the cleaning up afterwards.

Election of New Management Committee & Volunteering: PSN is run completely by volunteers, so we need all the help we can get, from small tasks such as serving tea and coffee at meetings to joining the Management Committee (MC) – every contribution counts! 

If you are interested in joining the MC to help shape the future of permaculture in our area, you can either fill in the Nomination Forms and return the form to the Secretary by Friday 8th December 2017, or you can put your hand up on the night.

MC position descriptions are available on the Member Only pages of the PSN website under Position Descriptions. 

If you want to volunteer, please contact the current MC at to let them know which role you are considering: Current MC members are available to help or mentor you in any role you choose.

Doors open at 6:30pm - a good time to check out our members' library & catch up with other PSN members. Free for members, donation for guests. 

Living Skills Workshop: Christmas Decorations
2-4pm, Sat 9 Dec

Make your Christmas more sustainable this year! Learn to make Christmas decorations from recycled & natural materials.

Register here.

Permabee: Mini-bee, swap, & Christmassy fun
9.30am-4pm, Sun 17 Dec

Help Cat & Chris with a few odd jobs in the morning, then relax over lunch. Bring a pickle or preserve to swap.

Register here.

PNB Gathering: End of Year Garden Party
12.30-4pm, Sun 10 Dec

Help PNB celebrate all that we have done in 2017 and get ready for the year ahead. Bring a plate of food to share.

More here.

News & Other Bits

The Intro Course Students at Stephanie Robertson's garden (Photo: Diana Watson).

Introduction to Permaculture Course blossoming

The Intro Course students have already visited some amazing gardens and learned about soil, composting, aquaculture, animals, and plants in the garden. They have started on their plans and learned how to analyse the microclimates in their gardens, test their soil, and collect data about the wind, fire threats, and other weather events. We are looking forward to seeing them all again after Christmas to polish off their assignments.

One of the most valuable aspects of all the garden visits is that the hosts share information about their challenges in their gardens as well as their solutions and revisions to their original plans and expectations. This releases the students from the pressure and expectation of perfection as a permaculture garden develops over time.

We encourage the students to set aside their reservations and inhibitions and design the garden of their dreams with multiple composting systems, chickens and choose apples of different varieties which fruit at different times in order to provide them with fruit for much of the year.

Other students live in units and we shall be exploring the opportunities offered for gardens in small spaces. For example, quails are the great alternative to chickens for a balcony garden and each can lay 200 eggs a year.

When the students have finished the course, we hope that the Garden Team and local group permabees will help the students convert their plans into a reality. 

Will you join us next time and start your permaculture journey with us?

Useful resources to share

Green Harvest has kindly supplied us with printed copies of their Australian Organic Gardening Resource Guide 2017-2018

This is the most wonderful catalogue with sections on seeds, cover crops, herbs, organic pest management, poultry supplies, and many others. Also included is a section on hand tools including a permie favourite, the ho-mi, an ancient Korean hand hoe. You can also learn about this hoe in an ABC gardening video.

Would you like to pick up a copy of Green Harvest at the next meeting? Would you like to share your order with someone else to save postage or organise a group order? Please let us know.

ABC Gardening has a gathered some fact sheets and resources for your Edible Garden. The link to fact sheets and videos for The Patch, a working display garden in Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, is one to watch for the future.

Are you wondering what to plant in December? Remember your ABC has a planting guide for your area of Australia.

About 1500 people created the Stop Adani message at Bondi. (Photo: Stop Adani Campaign).

Advocacy - taking permaculture values to our leaders

Some of you may have signed petitions and sent letters of protest during the year. You will realise that sometimes we just have to speak out when projects that have the potential to harm the earth are proposed and the Adani Coal mine is one of those projects - one that would destroy our reef, our climate, and our land.

In October, an Australia-wide day of action saw thousands of people gather to protest. PSN was represented at the Bondi Beach protest by Diana and Phillip Evans, Stephanie Robertson, Keelah Lam, and Diana and Ian Watson (photo left). You might be able to find Diana Watson, a small pink dot inside the letter “O” of STOP in the main photo above!

Keelah Lam had also had been protesting with her fellow Knitting Nannas the day before in Martin Place to catch the attention of the city folk.

Please let us know what you have done or are planning to do - we can promote upcoming events, and share experiences and photos in this newsletter and on our Facebook page.

Diana Watson and Di Evans, Education team leaders

Get your Fix at the Repair Cafe - Last Chance in 2017

Why not have a much loved item brought back to life as a Christmas gift to someone or to yourself?

We do free repairs, whenever possible, for household gadgets, jewellery, ceramics, sewing items, shoes, cooler bags, backpacks, umbrellas, and more. You can also bring garden tools and knives for sharpening. Everyone is welcome.

When: 1-3pm Sunday 10th December
Where: Uniting Church Hall, corner of Mowbray Rd and Pacific Hwy

Note that the Repair Cafe will move to an new home from 7th January 2018:
2-4 pm, Living and Learning Centre, 180 Longeville Road, Lane Cove.

Wendy Dwyer
0410280912 or 94204884

  Rowe Morrow in Kashmir

Houseboats on Dahl Lake once supported a thriving tourist economy. (All photos: Rowe Morrow)

"It is time for permaculturists to engage with the more difficult problems we face, such as melting glaciers, converting refugee camps to ecovillages, and solutions for the world’s coastal areas and deltas, and to hear from those working in refugee situations and in war zones. We need the brilliance of permaculture lateral thinkers shining on these problems." - Rowe Morrow, 2017

In her article for our September newsletter, Rowe wrote about meeting a Kashmiri couple, Shar and Amber, in England in 2015, who were keen for Rowe to teach permaculture in Kashmir. While Rowe was unable to go to Kashmir at that time, she did pull together a group of English permaculturists who gave Shar and Amber a free place on a PDC course. This lit the flames of a friendship that led to the development of Green Kashmir and the first Introduction to Permaculture course in Kashmir. Rowe has been mentoring the group via skype, but she was longing to go to Kashmir herself. Thanks to the generosity of the permaculture community, this was finally made possible in November.

PSN donated $1500 for Rowe's airfares, and with a $2000 from a Melbourne donor, and money raised by Green Kashmir, there was enough for travel, food, and course materials. Rowe and her fellow teacher, Jed Walker, were able to deliver the 1st Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) in Srinigar, Kashmir.

As I read Rowe's report on her trip (which she managed to write between the PDC and travelling to the Permaculture Convergence in India!), I was struck by two things - first, the passion, dedication, and generosity of permaculturists to help spread their knowledge and experience, and second, the incredible desire of people to learn even when living in very difficult conditions.

The PDC students were professors and graduate students of the Agricultural University, which helped promote and support the PDC course, who had to arrange time off from teaching duties. Others were farmers and supporters of Green Kashmir. All were juggling work and family commitments, which was especially hard for the women. Some students travelled for up to five hours on poor roads, and everyone had to get home before dark due to the military curfew.

Rowe wrote about the difficulties of teaching in an oppressed country, in a very different culture and language difficulties (students spoke Kashmiri and Urdu), and with less than ideal teaching space and equipment. However, is seems that to Rowe and Jed this was just another 'permaculture challenge" and they easily simply applied permculture thinking to find solutions - observe and interact, integrate rather than segregate, use and value diversity, creatively use and respond to change...

Rowe is already planning the next PDC and thinking about other courses that can build a strong foundation of knowledge in Kashmir, and provide further skills and expertise to help people, especially the young, find employment. She's keen to kind ways to work with more people including government officials and even the military. It will be exciting to see how PSN members can help support this work in the future.

Cat Dorey, Newsletter Editor

MISSED SOMETHING? Over our summer break there will be more 2018 events listed on our website and there are always more news & fun things on our Facebook group page. Sign up for the Northern Beaches newsletter here.