Category 6

Inspiring Teens Towards Sustainability


What can we do to help our teens become the sustainable innovators and guides that the planet needs? More so than ever before, young people need positive opportunities to escape and explore, to move from talking and watching to doing.

For the past eighteen years we’ve run the Crossing Land Education Trust, where we have camps for young people. We create opportunities for young people to learn and become inspired, for example through teamwork, environmental restoration and monitoring, sustainable design, tool use, outdoor activities and organic gardening. We believe that teens need to be given the following experiences, to: contribute with purpose; improvise and make mistakes; and explore natural places. Well-designed school camps, with excellent leaders, are great for this; but as parents and guides to teens, we can create such opportunities in a variety of ways.

When you think back to yourself as a teen, and the people you looked up to, there was probably at least one cool uncle or aunty, an older brother, sister or cousin, a teacher or camp leader who was influential. Whether by accident or design, they were the ones who supported you to launch off on some early adventure. Pushing the boundaries of activity and adventure was okay by your parents, as long as you had that acceptable guide nearby. It’s good to surround teens with positive and inspiring role models they can relate to.

Your Complete Guide To Natural Building Materials


Whether you’re thinking of becoming an owner-builder or retrofitting your home, you might be wondering which building materials will ensure an effective, beautiful and natural home. Some important factors to consider are: which resources are available to you locally (both on your property and in your area); cost of materials; thermal properties sought – passive solar design, thermal mass and insulation – and how these interact with each other; embodied energy involved; and the ease of material construction. With an introduction to these factors, you will be better equipped to begin choosing the materials that best suit your climate and house design.



I was asked recently what brought me to the place I am in today: the editor of a permaculture magazine, living in the country on a property with an evolving permaculture design, teaching permaculture, growing food, eating well and trying to bring up my kids to understand and respect the planet.

It made me stop and think: haven’t I always been this way inclined? I’ve always felt a connection to nature, but I definitely wasn’t brought up as the daughter of activists or living on a commune: I grew up in middle class, suburban Melbourne.

So what caused me to choose the life I have right now? When did I start to have this affinity with the earth, and wanting to do the best for her? Was it annual camping trips immersed in nature? Was it watching my dad garden when I was a child, and growing my first carrots? Was it getting arrested for protesting against uranium mining? Was it the feeling of belonging I had among others who felt the same way? Was it setting up my own garden and growing my own food? Was it completing my permaculture design course?

Well, it was all of those things. It has been a slow evolution, a gradual opening up and a growing awareness of what effect my actions and choices have, not only on the planet but on other humans and society in general.

I’ve been learning constantly since I started Pip Magazine; with each issue I gain a greater awareness and

The Art Of Frugal Hedonism


Several years ago I coined the term ‘frugal hedonism’, partly railing against the assumption – of more mainstream friends – that a life of gleaning, gardening, hitchhiking and op shopping was part of a grey and dismal martyrdom endured for the planet’s sake. But I knew my days were rich with sensory indulgence and diverse pleasures.

As time crept by, many of these friends plunged into debt, overwork, middle-aged spread and a general sense of entrapment. It became clear that curtailed-consumption keeps us self-reliant and free enough to be truly alive to pleasure, and I realised how protective it can be against many of the ‘ills of modern life’.

Anyone reading Pip is likely already pretty cluey about the ecological reasons for reining in our rabid consumer habits. However, reshaping our priorities and habits is challenging, especially in the face of a larger culture that suggests spending as the starting point for all pleasure. We don’t want to miss out on pleasure! We are only human.

Profile: Phil Gall, Architect


It was a younger Phil Gall, writing for Source in 1971, who set out into Victoria’s East Gippsland to report on a monumental natural farming conference. He came back with a prophetic glimpse into holistic agriculture that informs his design work today.

Phil is a youthful seventy-five, living and working in Bermagui on the far south coast of NSW. As an architect, landscape designer and specialist in water management, he sees himself as a problem solver.

Phil is renting an old holiday shack, brought down and reassembled from the Snowy Mountains, looking out over Wallaga Lake. ‘The place is cold in winter and hot in summer,’ he says, but it is surrounded by the beauty of the landscape, and he is enjoying a sweet and simple life there.

Rocket Stoves


Never Ending Food is a permaculture demonstration and education organisation working to help address malnutrition holistically, improve children’s access to healthy food and promote food sovereignty. It’s led by Stacia Nordin (a dietician) and Kristof Nordin (a social worker) who have been in Malawi since 1997.

Photos courtesy of projects

The Nordins moved to Malawi to help with HIV prevention through the US Peace Corps. They learned quickly that to address malnutrition they would need to improve the quality and diversity of food, and to do that they needed to improve soil fertility. That’s when they came across permaculture. They now help to teach permaculture across Malawi, supporting communities and schools to set up abundant and sustainable food systems. Their own house is a demonstration plot, where people can visit to learn about their approach. The Nordins believe that permaculture has great potential to benefit nutrition and health, increase income potential and make a significant difference to living conditions.

Given Malawi’s year-round growing season, access to water and large genetic base of local food crops, the local people have seen how permaculture can help to create abundant gardens with a diversity of food. And how permaculture farmers have, on average, better food security, a more diverse diet and higher crop yield than conventional farmers. By making simple and affordable improvements to family farms, Malawian families can increase their overall household food security significantly.

Permaculture Property Development


In 1988 Bill Mollison stood on top of a swale at Crystal Waters Eco Village and declared: ‘Permaculturists want to be property developers’. While the job description for a property developer might conjure up images of housing market bubbles, and terribly-designed boxes squeezed onto ever-diminishing parcels of urban land, in many ways Bill was on the money. The desire for a patch of one’s own has led many a permie down the garden path of property ownership. But what if there was a way to create a living out of ethically and sustainably developing land for the future.

Why Become A Property Developer?

The need for more environmentally-sensitive housing is a no-brainer. But is that argument enough to make you put your energy into becoming a property developer? Permaculture teacher and property developer Ian Lillington certainly thinks so. He and his partner Marita went into the business to create sensible, sensitive subdivisions, and to help people move out of big metropolitan areas and set up a good life in a smaller town.

How To Make A Boomerang Bag


The aim of Boomerang Bags is to minimise the use of plastic by sewing reusable bags from local, recycled materials. Making Boomerang Bags with your community is a great way to participate in a national initiative on a local level. It’s an easy, free and environmentally friendly way to engage your local community and encourage others to reduce their use of plastic bags. The idea is to get a group of people together, sort through some old fabrics (linen cupboards or op shops are a great place to start), and meet up, with a couple of sewing machines, to make some great, recycled, reusable Boomerang Bags.

Growing Fruit And Nut Trees From Seed


The vast majority of gardening books, and nurseries, will tell you to buy grafted fruit and nut trees. Although grafted trees play an important role in permaculture systems, in many cases seedling trees may be a better option. Fruit and nut trees grown from seed are tough, need minimal water and are resistant to many diseases. And they’re free.

How To Grow From Seed

The standard propagation method for such trees is asexual reproduction: a piece of the parent plant is either grafted onto rootstock, usually a cultivar; or the tree is grown from a cutting. The new tree will produce fruit exactly the same as the parent tree.

Producing new trees from a seed is sexual reproduction: the seedling has two parents and a unique mix of genetic characteristics. This is part of the fun with growing from seed – you can produce unique fruit. However, some of these new trees may be low yielding, or have boring or inedible fruit.

Melliodora: The Art Of Permaculture Living


If you’ve studied, read or participated in any permaculture- related activities in Australia (or far beyond), then you’ll be aware of Melliodora, the outstanding domestic-scale permaculture demonstration site situated in the village of Hepburn, Victoria.

Melliodora is perhaps one of the best known sites in the world which demonstrates permaculture design on a household scale. But it just feels like a happy and healthy place, with: a garden full of nut, fruit and forage trees, berries, vegetables, geese and goats; mudbrick homes; and lives worth living.

Founded by David Holmgren (co-originator of permaculture) and Su Dennett and their family in 1985, this site has progressed from a blackberry-covered hillside to a one hectare settlement of self-reliance and low-energy living at its best.