Category 2

Articulating Clear Design Goals


The word permaculture has different flavours for different folk. My favourite flavour is that of design. I see permaculture as an amazing design system helping people and landscapes partner to look after each other, each providing the other with a significant amount of what they need to thrive, now and into the future.

My main experience in applying this flavour of permaculture relates to what I do for a living: for the last five or so years I have been collaborating with friends to design and create edible gardens in and around Melbourne. In this work we use a permaculture design process to bring people and space together in backyard edible ecosystems.

The design process we use starts by tuning in to the people and then the site. Next, we find suitable spots for desired areas (like orchards), and then things within those areas (like apple trees). Taking a cue from nature’s book, we make mutually beneficial connections among these areas and things. We also consider harmonious access and circulation patterns throughout the site. All the while, we wriggle back and forth between patterns and details, problems and solutions, observations, interpretations and new design ideas. It is a fluid and beautiful thing, and you never know exactly where it will take you.

In this article I will focus on just one part of the design process. I want to share our starting point, and why our experience has taught us that it matters.

Nadja Osterstock


I design practical, productive gardens, help people get the most out of their existing gardens, and sell organic and heirloom seeds through my market stall.

What are you passionate about?

It’s a cliche these days, but empowering people to live more sustainably is what drives me. I love learning about others’ dreams and visions for how their garden could work, and applying design skills and gardening experience to help them turn it into reality. I get a huge buzz as I see people gain the confidence to get growing.

What inspires you to do the work you do?

I love the Arthur Ashe quote, ‘Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.’ I don’t have all the answers or experience, but I sure want to share what I can. Permaculture offers us a set of principles and ethics so that we can take effective action and overcome the sense of powerlessness that so easily arises over environmental issues.

Parenting The Permaculture Way


A few years ago we thought up examples for parenting (and other systems) to illustrate the principles of permaculture and how they can be applied to all systems. When we did this our own children were young, so most of the explanations were for parents of small children. This article expands those ideas for parents of older children; it is a mixture of practical and philosophical examples of parenting according to permaculture principles.

1. Observe And Interact

Look for signals from your children about what developmental stage they are at, and support them to learn what they need in this stage.

Observe your children’s behaviour to discover what they love and engage in these activities with them – this will facilitate greater connection and better relationships.

Observe your children in their difficult times, to assist them in finding their triggers and patterns so that they can learn from them.

Tabitha Bilaniwskyj-Zarins


I am a qualified horticulturist and landscape designer with permaculture training and values. I am also a holistic manager. Everything does something and has a purpose. I also felt, spin and am in a band with my husband and some great friends. My motto is ‘it starts with a dream for it to become a reality’. Give anything a go because it will lead to another and another.

Tell me about your farm.

Myself, my husband and our three children have been on our property of 93.7 acres for going on twelve years. Having grown up in the Bega Valley it was a place I dearly called home.

Our mixed farm enterprise is mainly undulating granite hills with some basalt and a 1km winding creek with deep pools running through the middle of it. We have extensive beautiful views that are always breathtaking, so daily work life is very hard but always a pleasure.

Co-Creating A Fun, Sensory And Edible Family Garden


I got hooked on gardening at age fourteen when I found mustard seeds in my parents’ spice rack, planted some and watched them transform into little trees with yellow flowers followed by a tangy and crispy crop! I started growing my own vegies and fruit, then started planting trees in local parks when there was no space left at home. Years later, when my own children started exploring and playing in the garden, I set out to connect my children’s experience of the garden with my passion for edible gardening, and came up with the ideas behind what I do now as a designer of edible and sensory children’s gardens. In this article I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learnt over the years if you’re interested in gardening with or for children.

1. Observation

Observe how children use the spaces in the garden and play spaces generally. Kids are generally far more imaginative than us, and care far less about things being neat and tidy, so take your cues from your kids as to what sort of garden they would enjoy most. Reflect on your own childhood experiences of the outdoors and how this shapes your expectations now: do you expect your kids to keep the garden neat and tidy or do you encourage messy play? will you let them create their own ramshackle treehouse or will you insist on it being perfect?

2. Planning

Plan ahead so that your garden can grow along with your children.

Two Men And A Pumpkin


In Feb 2014 Brett and Nici Cooper along with farming neighbours Ken and Carol Maddocks set up Two Men and a Pumpkin farmgate roadside stall along the Bucketts Way, six kilometres north of Stroud, NSW, seventy km north of Newcastle.

Why did you decide to set up the roadside stall?

Our location offered an opportunity to bring our permaculture strategies full circle, providing a financial return that then would support the costs associated with regular farm inputs.

The farmgate stall benefits our local community and travellers from afar as an outlet for chemical free, farm fresh produce at market prices direct from the farms that grow it. Our customers can see our Perma-Market Gardens from the stall and upon request can visit the garden and even taste test some of the produce.

From our Facebook page, we also offer tips on ‘how to cook it’, ‘

Madelaine Scott


Nineteen year old Madelaine Scott is an egg farmer and has been for twelve years. While people her age are often studying or still trying to find their feet, Madelaine is a full-time farmer running her own business.

How did Madeleine come to being a successful egg farmer at her age, a business she has built up herself from scratch? Well a lot of it comes back to being homeschooled by her parents Rob and Colita. Rather than sitting down in a classroom and learning addition and subtraction, and biology, Madelaine’s parents thought the best way for their children to learn was by doing. So they encouraged all their children to start up a small business. When she was seven they helped her get a few chickens and start selling her eggs.

‘By running that business she learnt maths, science, how to kill animals, how to nurture, how to use an incubator, how to read, public speaking and finance’, says her father Rob.



NW Tasmania hosts the next Australasian Permacullture Convergence [APC 12] in March 2015. The town of Penguin is home to the RESEED Permaculture Centre and the NW Environment Centre who will host the event from 9–12 March, with a festival before and tours afterwards. It’s 40 years since permaculture conversations began between Mollison and Holmgren in Tasmania and so the theme is ‘Honouring the past– transforming the future’ – the challenge to permaculture.

Visit: or Facebook

Pip Picks


The Chikukwa project is an amazing story of African villagers who turned their lives around. This film made by brother and sister team; Gillian and Terry Leahy is a feel good story about an incredible permaculture project that has been growing in Zimbabwe for the last twenty years.

Where once the people of the Chikukwa villages suffered hunger, malnutrition and high rates of disease, this community has turned its fortunes around using permaculture farming techniques. Complementing these strategies for food security, they have built their community strength through locally controlled and initiated programs for permaculture training, conflict resolution, women’s empowerment, primary education and HIV management.

Now they have a surplus of food and the people in these villages are healthy and proud of their achievements. Their degraded landscape has been turned into a lush paradise. $12.99 digital download or $20 for the DVD

The Ethics And Heart Of Social Enterprise


Economics has always been driven by supply and demand: you make something, and if people buy it in enough quantities it gets made again, usually in greater quantities. Supporting businesses with good ethics not only supports them to offer their products and services, it has the potential to empower all involved in the transaction.

Many of us choose to shop locally, shop organically, shop in accordance with our ethics and really live the catchcry ‘put your money where your mouth is’. By shopping at big chain stores, and with non-local businesses that have money making as their prime motivation, our money supports their ethics rather than what’s close to our heart.

By supporting businesses with environmental, social and heart-based ethics we enable them to continue, grow and thrive. This creates a continuing cycle of love, support, passion, creativity and good service, as well as supporting a healthy mind, body and spirit, for the patron as well as the business. It’s so important to remember that every cent we spend is making a statement and contributing to the world we want.

The term ‘social enterprise’ is becoming more commonly used by those of us who run small businesses as a basis for offering our gifts to the world