Learn by immersion, interaction, engagement, and pragmatic analysis. All sessions use the range of land uses and buildings at the sites for demonstration, engagement, and participation, to develop your practical design skills. The climatic range of the sites we visit ranges from cool wet and high altitude, through to semi-arid (with irrigation water).
Murrnong has been under development since 1996, with most tree planting done in 2000. The well established and maintained tree crops and shelter plantings, and the active farm homestead, are a rare opportunity to get immersed in permaculture. With the design examples all around us, and feeding us, you can engage with the design considerations, observe changes that have happened over time, ‘reverse engineer’ what was done and why, consider the pros and cons of design decisions, and discuss possible changes and tweaks.
Murrnong is the home base for the PDC. We use the undercover outdoor teaching area, the very varied settings around the property, and indoors if we need to.
Abdallah House This place is big thinking and big impact, in a small space. Richard Telford and his partner Kunie bought an old energy guzzling bungalow on a small (584sq m) block in Seymour, possibly the worst house in town, and have transformed it into a showcase of sustainable design. It’s about energy and nutrient cycling, building community, self-reliance, creatively using & reusing materials… all without spending heaps of money. Richard and Kunie garden in small spaces, educate their children, re-use grey water in the soil under their grape vines, work from a home office, and live very comfortably in their attractive re-built compact house, without debt. For more information, see their case study on retrosuburbia.com
Black Barn Farm Jade and Charlie Showers have been pouring their considerable energy and skills into this ambitious family enterprise and home since 2016. They are in the throes of establishing a biodiverse orchard, nursery and learning space. Their plans are meticulous, buildings are being retrofitted, orchard soils are being made ready, and their tree nursery enterprise started by raising about 1500 fruit trees for their own planting in winter 2018. This is a rare chance to see what these crucial first steps in the development of a site look like.
See what family self-reliance and small commercial production using permaculture methods within an evolving permaculture design can look like. They use few inputs, lots of crop and animal rotation with a chicken tractor system, and they started making their living from their farm production pretty much right from the start. Now they have ongoing farming tasks to fit in with house renovations and further permaculture development. Grahame will show us how his farming method works, his design for the property, and how the whole thing is integrated with family life.
Brian’s garden, Seymour
What can you do with a dry stony hillside with only about 3cm of topsoil? Brian Bowring is a skilled gardener and net-worker with great experience. His gardening style is social, with productive friendships that allow him to gather waste resources for garden use, connect and share information and resources with other growers. His system for collection/composting of local stable wastes helped inspire this research, although his own backyard scale research is probably the most valuable. He also keeps bees, propagates fruit trees, and is a keen grafter.
Energy efficiency retrofit of the Violet Town community buildings
We are not all going to build new ecological buildings, we need to make the buildings we already have work better. See what kind of tweaks can be made to diverse existing built spaces to make them function much better. These spaces were variously poorly insulated, dark, cold, hot, too sunny in summer, and drafty. David Arnold lead the retrofit project for these buildings.
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