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Skills for sustainable living - workshops in the Hunter Valley May 2015

One of the aspects of sustainable living that excites me the most is that there's so much to learn. There's seemingly endless knowledge to acquire and more than a life-time of skills to gain.

Thankfully, there are plenty of individuals and organisations out there providing resources and courses to make learning easy.

Here's a selection of upcoming courses and workshops for the Hunter region this month.

Click on the headings for more information and to register. 

Wild101, May 15-17 with Wildcraft Australia

Note: registrations for this workshop closed yesterday - but maybe they can squeeze you in if you ask nicely :-)

Wildcraft Australia Wildcraft 101. Little eco footprints

Niki from Wildcraft Australia starting a fire without matches. Little eco footprints

This weekend course is for anyone interested in wilderness survival skills, bush crafts, nature and developing bush confidence.

Learn how to start a fire without matches, build a shelter, weave a natural basket and forage for bush tucker.


Hemp Masonry, 16th - 17th May, with Shepherds Ground and The Australian Hemp Masonry Company.

This hands-on workshop provides a unique and exciting opportunity to learn how to build your own hemp masonry walls.

You will go away with a whole new skill set and a manual. 


Part-time mid-week Permaculture Design Certificate, 10 weeks starting Wednesday 20th May, with Purple Pear Farm

This one has me seriously tempted. A part-time mid week PDC! (updated: I've registered! Anyone want to join me?)

For more than ten years Kate and Mark have offered the PDC to people of the Hunter Valley and beyond and have seen many people go on to do great things around the world. From consultancy and aid work to teaching and simply providing for their families, graduates of the PDC at Purple Pear Farm have gained the confidence to live life in a sustainable and regenerative way.

The course follows the curriculum set out in the Permaculture Design Manual by Bill Mollison and continues with the teaching of David Holmgren. 


Brian Keats workshop, 23rd May, with Hunter Biodynamic Group. 

Brian Keats has been publishing an annual Antipodean Astrocalendar and moon planting guide for decades. His calendars are widely used by biodynamic practitioners to understand natural rhythms and guide gardening and farming practices.

A morning seminar will be followed in the afternoon by a Q & A session on using the Astrocalender.

In the evening, a star - watching session will be accompanied by stories from Greek and Australian Aboriginal Cultures.


Medicinal herbs in cooking, 23rd May with the Common Sustenance Project

Nissa Phillips, Common Sustenance project coordinator at The Commons Cafe. Little eco footprints

The Commons is delivering a series of ten classes on healthy, frugal and sustainable cooking. Other upcoming classes include healthy cooking on a budget, cheese making, and cooking for kids. 


Grass identification, 23rd May with Trees In Newcastle and the Australian Association of Bush Regnerators.

Themeda triandra,  Little eco footprints

Grass expert Van Klaphake is coming to the Lower Hunter to present a 2 day plant identification workshop on native and exotic grass species of the Greater Sydney region. 

This hands-on workshop is suitable for bush regenerators, landcarers, botanists, plant enthusiasts, council vegetation officers or for general interest.


Introduction to Biodynamics, 30th May with Krinklewood Vineyard.

Peter Windrim and a few of Krinklewood Biodynamic Vinyards many compost piles. Little eco footprints

This hands-on workshop will be relevant to anyone wanting to produce healthy organic produce - whether you have a small backyard veggie garden or a large commercial farm.

Biodynamic practitioners John Priestly and Hamish Mackay will introduce workshop participants to the application and benefits of biodynamics.

Peter Windrim of Krinklewood vinyard (pictured above with a couple of Krinklewood's many compost piles) tells me "Participants will learn how to make compost, use a planting calendar, and make biodynamic preparations that can be used to enhance the fertility and life-energy of their soil".


Learn How to Make Goats Milk Soap, 1st June with Honeycomb Valley Farm 

This hands on workshop will teach you basic goats milk soap-making techniques including how to mix lye, how it saponifies and how to cure soap for a delightfully mild bar. 


Other regular sustainable living workshop providers within the region:


Purple Pear Farm

Kate and Mark deliver a range of courses on permaculture and skills for simple living. Courses over the coming months include cheese and yoghurt making, introduction to biodynamics, compost making, worm farming, plant propagation, and urban food production.


Herbalist Pat Collins

Pat delivers regular courses across the Hunter region on foraging, using herbs, and making your own skin and hair care products.


Master sourdough baker Warick Quinton

Warick runs regular workshops on how to make artisan sourdough bread.


Happy learning. 

A slightly shorter version of this post was originally published in the Newcastle Herald Monday 11th May 2015.