Category 2

Permaculture Around The World


Permaculture is being applied in many communities and contexts around the world. It plays a leading role and catalyses positive change, from sustainable redevelopment to disaster preparedness, renewal of small farms and creation of urban agriculture zones.

Urban Agriculture Zones In California

Vacant land in Californian cities can now be designated as agricultural zones since the passing of new legislation in 2013. It encourages increased use of privately owned, vacant land for urban agriculture and improves land security for these projects. The key to making this work is that landowners who commit their land to urban agriculture for at least five years will receive a reduction in property tax.

How To Make Chorizo

Chorizo is a sausage that you can eat at three different stages: the first is fresh, and cooked on a barbecue as normal; the second is hung and cured for a couple of weeks, and then sliced and fried and eaten inside fresh bread; the third is hung for four weeks until it is hard, like a good salami. Try the different stages and see which is best for you.

Makes about seven to nine sausages.

Making your own chorizo is really exciting and satisfying but you must be aware that there are risks associated with it, especially to the young, the elderly and the infirm of constitution. Do your research and understand the process. Cooking cured meats before you eat them, however, reduces that risk to almost zero.



I’m really excited about the diverse range of articles included in issue two. We’ve got stories from all over Australia. People are hearing about Pip, and the word is spreading.

Our six sections have changed slightly for this edition. ‘Create’ has become ‘Thrive’, which is a section about earning a living and the ‘B’ word: business. Robin Clayfield’s article on the ethics and heart of social enterprise reminds us of all the ways in which businesses can choose to be ethical, and it offers a checklist of what to think about – whether we are running our own business or choosing businesses to support.

Beck Lowe’s article on growing your own meat is something close to my heart at the moment. We have just gone through the process of raising, killing, butchering and curing our own pigs. I did wonder, just before we did the deed, whether it would be too traumatic and I would have to become vegetarian. But the pigs were happy and unstressed right up until their last moment. This raised all sorts of questions for me about humans’ role in the food chain, and our right to take lives to feed ourselves. It is something as a meat eater I have always wanted to do, to be truly in touch with where my meat comes from.

There are also some really great stories about different people around the country, and what they are doing in their own neck of the woods.

Karen Lott


My friend Barbara and I were disappointed with the amount of fruit and vegetables available for sale locally and knew that, with the great range of microclimates and soils in Nethercote and surrounding localities, there must be a lot being grown. We hoped that starting the market would be a great opportunity to encourage local growers to get involved and hopefully grow more.

We were frequently asked to hold the markets more regularly. One Sunday afternoon, while parked in the main street of Eden, I spotted an empty shop and the idea for Sprout was born.

My vision was to create a mini version of the seasonal markets, providing customers with daily access to locally grown produce, and a regular outlet for local growers to sell their excess. I also wanted to combine that with a friendly café, for people to meet and relax in while enjoying great food using local ingredients.

Reducing Waste Café Style


Australia is an enormously wasteful society: on average, every Australian throws away the equivalent of five bags of groceries each year. That’s $8 billion worth of food, rotting in landfill. Almost half of what goes to Australian landfill is food and green waste. We have a widespread problem of nutrient depleted soils on our farming land, yet huge amounts of useful organic matter are thrown into landfill, contributing to greenhouse gases and climate change.

In permaculture we pay a lot of attention to waste, or rather to the avoidance of waste. You’re probably familiar with the Rs of waste minimisation: reduce, reuse, recycle, and the more recent inclusions refuse and repair.

When we refuse to participate in wasteful practices we make a difference on an individual level. But it’s not always easy, particularly when you run a business like a café, when servicing hungry customers means going through thousands of kilograms of fresh food, milk, bread and wine every year. It’s impossible to avoid large amounts of waste in the form of discarded food, cardboard and packaging when you operate a hospitality business. Or is it?

Entrepreneur Joost Bakker has always challenged conventional thinking, from his early days as a floral artist, weaving rusted found objects into his designs, to his most recent venture, a zero waste café called Silo in Melbourne’s Hardware Lane.

Debt-free Housing


Many of the original followers of permaculture left the city and became owner-builders on far-flung blocks of land; creating lives for themselves which were free of debt; allowing them to focus their time and energy on what they felt was important. Land was still cheap up to the late 1990s. Building regulations were minimal and, with help from local LETSystems and keen WWOOFers, many young families built their homes without having to rely on banks for a mortgage.

The children of these families are now young adults, and it is a very different world they face when it comes to choice in housing. Land is much more expensive, making saving for a deposit almost impossible. Building regulations have escalated, adding to costs. And major banks are hostile to lending to owner-builders.

To get a house, most young people feel that the only option is to hitch up with someone else with a steady job, buy a house by borrowing $100 000s from a bank, and then stay in a job they may hate for the next twenty-five years. Starting a family along the way is challenging. They may lose their sense of freedom, and become extremely vulnerable to fluctuating interest rates in the global marketplace. Meanwhile climate change and resource depletion loom.

However, there are some other options for people looking to live with minimal or no debt.

Our House at Crystal Waters Eco Village


Our kids love the bright orange and yellow house we’ve built: of course – they helped design it, and chose the colours! Ecovillage homes don’t have to be in muted tones of forest green and mission brown.

Nature abounds with colour and beauty, and our permaculture garden is filled with these. These are reflected by bold splashes of colour on the walls that bring a fun, happy, positive feeling to the spaces in and around our home, and reflect a lively glow into our rooms, making a great living and learning space. We’ve been building our house at Crystal Waters Eco Village, near Maleny in Queensland, for just over a decade.

Green Manures


Growing green manures is an age-old gardening technique that draws on a large range of fast growing crops to build, regenerate and maintain soil health. I like to think of it as growing soil instead of food – which is all the same thing really. Among the many benefits is this impressive list adapted from Green Harvest’s website:

Green Manures:

  • help prevent and treat soil disease
  • increase organic matter, earthworms and beneficial microorganisms
  • increase the soil’s available nitrogen and moisture retention
  • stabilise the soil to prevent erosion – we’ve used them extensively on our steep banks directly after fresh earthworks, which has worked brilliantly
  • bring deep minerals to the surface and break up hardpans – when you choose plants with deep taproots, such as lupins
  • provide habitat for beneficial insects and reduce populations of pests
  • improve water, root and air penetration in the soil
  • can smother persistent weeds – good choices for weed suppression include lablab, cowpea, lucerne and buckwheat.

Waterless Composting Toilets


The original toilet was probably a hole in the ground – a waterless composting toilet. Human excrement left lying on the ground will decompose (compost) the same as any other animal excrement, and any other way of dealing with it is a refinement of the basic process. The main reason we have to deal with human waste in more sophisticated ways is population density. The level of complexity of a waste management system is generally directly related to the volume of waste needing to be treated. In a small rural dwelling on acres, a simple system will suffice; whereas a multi-story apartment block, housing up to hundreds of people, needs a complex system to ensure a healthy environment.

The basic principle of minimum impact treatment is to keep liquid separate from excrement. This is important, as it is the excrement that is the major source of bacteria, germs and viruses; if liquid is mixed with excrement the pollution factor is multiplied many times.

The development of the flush toilet was possibly the greatest factor in creating the massive problems currently experienced with sewage outfalls in our waterways. Avoiding the flush toilet is the best step that can be taken to solving sewage-based pollution.

There are various commercial suppliers of composting toilets, and most models supplied are approved by NSW and Victorian health authorities.

Aaron Sorenson


I’ve been involved in local bush regeneration projects, seed saving and sustainability for more than two decades. I came to permaculture because I was committed to making a positive change to my local environment by participating in earth remediation projects. Permaculture deepened my understanding of taking personal responsibility for my actions, and that meant considering personal sustainability and contributing to community resilience. Permaculture provided an ethical thinking tool that informs practical solutions for a world in transition; that still resonates with me.

How has your garden at the Wollongong PCYC (Police Citizens Youth Club) evolved?

The garden first sprouted in 1999 as a place for the rental community to see permaculture in action. Our initial focus was growing and sharing food together, in a beautiful subtropical food forest designed to provide respite from the industrial cityscape. This was a time of experimentation, with a variety of natural gardening practices that proved successful in our bioregion. It was also a time of celebration, because I was involved in creating something meaningful, and pioneering with friends.