Category Design

Permaculture Planting: Fruit Tree Guild


Create a thriving and productive mini ecosystem that supports your fruit tree by designing a guild – a permaculture technique in which a group of plants are chosen to complement and support a central plant.

Guilds are a great way to make the most of under-utilised space in the garden and to obtain a diverse yield. Whether your garden is small or your property vast and rambling, the space under and around your fruit trees is valuable real estate. Being mindful with what you plant there can bring many benefits to the fruit trees, to your other garden inhabitants and to yourself. A guild can bring higher yields as it adds nutrients, attracts pollinators, stabilises temperatures and controls pests and diseases. By creating a little food forest of mutually beneficial plants below your fruit trees you can obtain a bountiful mixed yield, while at the same time, reducing the amount of work you need to put into it. Win win!

Permaculture Design – Planning Your Place


Turning a challenging piece of land into a productive permaculture patch doesn’t need to be as daunting or as difficult as you might think. Successful design starts with providing honest answers to the right questions.

Michelle and her two kids live in the northern suburbs of nipaluna/Hobart on a 750 mÇ urban property. Chosen for its low-maintenance house and the relatively large land size, other would-be owners saw overgrown lawn and a steep slope, but Michelle saw her future edible landscape.

As a passionate gardener striving for a productive patch, Michelle wasn’t interested in just popping in a garden bed here and there, she wanted to completely transform the property. We worked with Michelle to first understand what she wanted and how we could realistically achieve it given her challenging urban block, before turning it into a waterpreserving, soul-nourishing and nutrient-dense foodscape.

Watch and Act

Working smarter, not harder is a good way to create a resilient, high-yielding garden. And simple observation is the stepping stone for smart design.

To observe and interact is the first of David Holmgren’s 12 permaculture principles and arguably the most significant. It’s nearly impossible to create a resilient permaculture system without careful observation. Nature is a living, breathing ecosystem and the only way to truly understand it is to get out there and immerse yourself in it. Permaculture educators Angelo Eliades and Kat Lavers share their insights on how observing and interacting with their backyards over the years has led to the success of their renowned permaculture systems.

International Projects

The Indigenous people of the Oglala Lakota are revitalising their culture with permaculture, Indigenous wisdom and looking for solutions for the next seven generations. Based at Pine Ridge in South Dakota, a Reservation created in 1889 – originally part of the Great Sioux Reservation – there’s a need for change.

Ranked the poorest county in the nation, it has a lack of housing, abysmal health issues, severe food insecurity and has been described as a developing nation within the USA. OLCERI is an Indigenous-led organisation aiming to cultivate skills for regeneration. It’s creating gardens, earthships, appropriate technologies and practising holistic land management. Completely off-grid, everything the organisation does is supporting affordable and accessible housing and a resilient food system. OLCERI hosts Indigenous Wisdom and Permaculture Skills Convergences and Permayouth Americas have partnered in support.

Kitchen Garden: A Patch From Scratch


A productive food garden starts with great design. Applying permaculture design principles early on in the design phase means striking a balance with nature to get it working with you, achieving practical and permanent efficiencies to help feed you and your family.

Building a vegie patch from scratch can seem daunting, but by carefully observing your space and applying practical problem-solving techniques, you can create a thriving and productive food garden whether you’re on acreage or on a small city plot.

Homegrown vegetables are far better for both you and the planet than anything you can buy from a shop. Having a garden capable of producing vegetables for your family is a great place to kick off your permaculture journey and get you thinking about the best way to integrate growing food into your patch and your lifestyle.

Connecting Communities: Once And For All

growing food

Permaculture design is successful because it mimics nature’s interconnectedness. An interconnectedness which allows nature to be a self-supporting mechanism that can exist and thrive without added inputs or unnecessary waste, and it’s successful because nothing exists in isolation. If we can implement similar systems into our communities, all of a sudden we’re less reliant on external supply and better equipped to stand and face adversity.

Everything in nature – and in life – is interdependent. The home, workplace, school or organisation, for example, all form parts of a larger neighbourhood. Through permaculture design we can cultivate deeper levels of connection, collaboration and cooperation. It’s something we practise in our gardens and we reap its benefits daily, but if we can apply similar strategies to our communities, we would create self-reliant and fiercely resilient communities capable of bouncing back from anything thrown our way.

Burning Issue: Fire-Proofing Our Future

scorched landscape

Fire is an intrinsic part of the Australian landscape. With the opportunity to both reduce carbon emissions and build community resilience, Australia should be leading the world in transitioning to renewable energy to reduce the severity of bushfire.

Fire has become more destructive since European colonisation. And due to climate change and changes in land use, Australia has experienced even greater destruction over recent decades.

Australian landscapes were once effectively managed by Indigenous cultural burning practices, but stopping this has left us with denser forests more vulnerable to fire.

Traditional land uses of grazing and forestry which have contributed to both the prevention and control of bushfires have declined in recent decades. They have been replaced by residential, recreational and conservation uses that increases our vulnerability.

Garden Transformation With Permaculture Design


Samuel Ralph and Emily McMullen first became aware of permaculture design six years after moving into their suburban Hobart home. With renovations to their home finished, they turned their attentions to the garden on their 700 sqm block.

‘What we had was a weed scape and bare lawn that turned into dirt and dust in summer, and was impossible to get a spade into,’ explains Sam.

They were growing a few herbs, a lemon tree, some raspberries and greens, but they wanted to do more. Their introduction to permaculture came from an interest into reducing their waste. They watched the film ‘A Plastic Ocean’ and, as Sam puts it: ‘It was like having the blindfold ripped off’. They knew they wanted to change their habits.

Zone 00 – Looking After The Self


Many of us spend a lot of time and energy caring for the environment and caring for others in our families and our communities. Sometimes we find that, while spending all this time and energy caring for everyone else, we forget to care for ourselves.

Inevitably we get tired and struggle with our own health, happiness and sense of wellbeing, and we stop working effectively.

In permaculture, we talk about zones, with zone 0 being the home and inside the home, zone one the area directly around the home and it goes out from there until we reach zone five, which is the wilderness and wild areas.

Through these zones we look at how we design, build and maintain our homes, gardens and properties. How we look after our inner self is known as zone 00. Just as we apply permaculture design principles to these other zones, we can apply them to our own lives.

Embracing Community At Bend Eco-Neighbourhood


You’d go a long way to find a purpose-built, permaculture-inspired, organically certified econeighbourhood like Bend. With those credentials, you might expect a remote location, miles from anywhere, but Bend is located in a major town on the NSW Far South Coast, near schools, shops, a post office, library and medical facilities. The aim of this intentionalliving project was to build community, not just build ‘a community’.

‘Bend is integral to the town of Bega. We wanted to be inclusive and diverse, and part of the town,’ says Jenny Spinks, who was active throughout the project and now lives there. The eco-subdivision was intentionally medium density, with twothirds of the houses privately owned, and the remaining onethird purpose-built for affordable housing rental.

The eco-neighbourhood of 30 houses harvests and reuses its own water, mandates composting toilets and runs on permaculture ethics and consensus decision-making. Ideally, being in town allows a further reduction in ecological footprint, through less car use.