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Peeking into permaculture - International Permaculture Day

She loves her chooks

I want to grow my own food, but don’t want to have to spend hours in the garden every day. The idea of having a resilient and low maintenance productive garden appeals to me. Given my lazy gardener attitude, the concept of permaculture interests me.

Our garden is finally starting to grow - silverbeet and garlic

Permaculture is about working with nature, rather than against it.

I’m particularly fond of Linda Woodrow’s attitude towards growing her own food. In her book, The Permaculture Home Garden, Linda writes that permaculture is about ..."saving the planet and living to be a hundred, while throwing very impressive dinner parties and organising other creatures to do most of the work." Sounds like a sensible plan to me.

Chicken tractor

My creature labour force currently includes guinea pigs, chooks and worms. I’m using guinea pig and chicken tractors to help prepare garden beds. The guinea pigs eat the weeds and grasses and leave behind fertiliser. The chooks then follow – destroying roots and adding more nutrients. We also employ a number of worm farms to turn our kitchen scraps into even more fertiliser.

Next I’d like to recruit pigs to prepare my front paddock for a food forest and ducks to help control pests. A couple of dairy cows fertilising my back paddock and a pair of Alpacas deterring foxes would be nice too.

Linda’s attitude to the aesthetics of a garden appeals to me as well. She suggests that “the best flavours come from the most seductive garden” and that “a garden has to be an art form to be really productive. It has to feed the eyes and ears and nose as well. It has to be a refuge, a place of reflection, creation and enchantment.” I agree with her sentiments that the “late, tired dash through bedlam with a shopping trolley compares very badly with a stroll through a seductive garden”.

Tomorrow, Sunday 5th May, is International Permaculture Day

I like visiting other people’s gardens for inspiration. I’m a garden sticky beak - so am really looking forward to International Permaculture Day tomorrow, with activities including dozens of open permaculture gardens across Australia.

We’re on the South Coast this weekend, so will visit a few gardens on our travels home, including tours of three Permablitz sites in Wollongong.

Local Hunter events include two farm tours and a wicking bed demonstration at Purple Pear Farm near Maitland (10am, 2pm, and 1pm respectively); a field day at Allyn River Permaculture near Dungog; and an open day at Limestone Permaculture Farm near Stroud. Permaculture Hunter is organising a bus trip for the day, visiting two of these farms. To join the bus trip call Ross on 0411174453. Details of these and other events can be found at permacultureday.org

[Originally published in the The Newcastle Herald 6th May 2013]

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