Category Featured

A Year From The Garden


Could you survive if the only fruit and vegies you ate for a year where those grown in your own backyard? Jodie Vennitti from Perth, WA decided to set herself a challenge and try it out?

Jodie’s garden is productive and beautiful, although it hasn’t always been that way. ‘Originally when I bought it, it had no trees, with grass front and back,’ she says of her Coolbellup, Perth backyard. Jodie soon transformed the 728 m2 yard into a thriving permaculture food forest, inspired by the nearby Jetto’s Patch edible garden (profiled in Pip issue 8).

However as Jodie was busy working full-time and looking after her daughters, she wasn’t making the most of her yield. She found herself still buying produce from the shops and discovering forgotten wilting vegies at the bottom of the fridge crisper. So she decided she wasn’t going to buy any fruit or vegetables for a year and instead make full use of what she was growing. ‘I was already spending time in the garden maintaining it, so it was just making sure that as I was going around I was actually harvesting,’ says Jodie.

Dreaming Of A House Cow


Do you dream of milking your own cow? Having fresh, raw milk available on tap? The thought of all of that warm, frothy sweetness pouring into your bucket is very appealing to many but before you consider bringing a house cow into your daily life, there are a few things you need to consider.


A cow will need your care and attention daily, maybe even twice a day. However you don’t have to milk her every day. You can leave your cow’s calf with her in the paddock and choose when to milk. You might choose once a day (in which case you’d need to separate the calf each night) or once a week.

Introduction To Biodynamics


Biodynamics is a method of organic farming that views the entire farm (or garden) as an organism. Biodynamics utilises a closed-loop system where growers aim to produce everything needed by the farm on the farm itself. While this sort of system is used in other organic farming methods including permaculture, biodynamics also incorporates other unique practices. These include the use of specially formulated ‘preparations’ to nourish the soil, planting and harvesting with reference to influences of the solar system and working with natural forces to revitalise their land.

As in permaculture, biodynamics treats soil fertility, plant growth and livestock care as a holistic system. Each part is interconnected with all of the others and the health and wellbeing of each part is important for the successful running of the farm as a whole. With its emphasis on local production and distribution, closed-loop systems and sustainable, ecologically sound practices, biodynamics is a farming method that integrates well with permaculture.

Retrosuburbia: The Downshifter’ Guide To A Resilient Future


Retrofitting our homes, gardens and lifestyles to be more self-reliant and resilient promises both a more fulfilling life for us and multiple benefits for society and the environment.

Retrofitting also enables us to focus on what we can do at the household level, rather than community or government levels. We don’t need permission or government funding to start making our lives more productive and enjoyable. We don’t even need to own the place we call home. Although the scope for physical retrofits is greater for home-owners, renters can also make creative changes to their habits, diets and work patterns to create a more resilient and fulfilling life.

This retrofitting can be done wherever we are, but in my latest book, RetroSuburbia: The Downshifters’ Guide to a Resilient Future (Melliodora Publishing, 2018) I have focused on suburbs and country towns, which I believe can be transformed into productive and vibrant spaces where we can live within our global means. I use examples that are primarily applicable to my home territory in South Eastern Australia, but by extension the patterns of retrosuburbia can be adapted to other climates and cultures.

International Permaculture Convergence, India


International permaculture convergences (IPCs) are an opportunity for people from all over the world to get together and share their passion for permaculture. With 1200 participants from over 60 countries at the latest IPC held in India last November and December, there was a wide representation from across the globe.

Bill Mollison and Robyn Francis came to India 30 years ago and taught the first PDC (permaculture design course). One of their first students on that course was Narsanna Koppula, who went on to create Aranya Farm. He has transformed a semi-arid wasteland into a productive and thriving demonstration farm, where he teaches and spreads the word of permaculture.

Narsanna has been instrumental in establishing permaculture in India, and from what I could see, there is a thriving permaculture movement there (so important when you have companies like Monsanto coming in and taking over). Narsanna and his wife Padma were responsible for this conference and convergence, and what an amazing job they did. In a country where things don’t always go to plan or run on time, they assembled an amazing program with the help of a team of hard working volunteers.

Commoning Sense: Growing Food In Public Places


The phrase ‘eating the suburbs’ is for many of us a rare pleasure. Most of the time, public vegetation means ‘don’t eat it’. Look at it, stand under it, breathe it in… but not too deeply in case your allergies flare, and whatever you do, don’t put it in your mouth. Eating from our everyday environment is far less common than common sense might imagine. There just aren’t that many public spaces purpose-grown to maximise edible yields.

The concept of growing food in public spaces seems stuck in first gear in most of our towns. As urban areas become increasingly dense and pricey, growing food in our private spaces becomes a harder ask. While pot plants, backyards, balconies and planter boxes are noble food growing efforts, what about those great big public spaces: parks, nature strips, verges, footpaths, even botanical gardens. Couldn’t we harvest those public assets?

A few folks around the country reckon we can and perhaps should. They’re inviting us to eat our suburbs and make our environment a whole lot tastier. They are the friends of fruit trees in Daylesford, champions of the council-grown carrot in Bega, and defenders of the pawpaw in Buderim.

Green Connect


The winner of Pip’s 2018 award for Best Permie Project is Green Connect. We’re excited to share what makes Green Connect stand out as an example of permaculture at its dynamic best.

Green Connect is a social enterprise doing good things for people and the planet. It grows and sells ‘fair food’ which is good for those who eat it, grow it and the planet. Last year Green Connect employed 114 former refugees and young people to do this, growing and distributing 13,754 kilos of fair food and keeping 1,990 tonnes of waste out of landfill. Recently Green Connect reached an all-time high of feeding 104 families fresh permaculturally grown seasonal food through their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) vegetable box scheme. Waste management and labour-hire businesses are also a part of Green Connect.

Green Connect is located in Port Kembla, south of Wollongong in the Illawarra region, 70 km south of Sydney. The Illawarra grew out of mining and heavy industry through the 20th century, and like so many places in Australia, large-scale manufacturing has been shedding jobs. Green Connect started under SCARF (Strategic Community Assistance to Refugee Families) as a project aimed at building employment skills and experience among former refugees in the area.

Build Your Own Natural Swimming Pool


A natural swimming pool is a beautiful and healthy alternative to a conventional pool. By building a natural swimming pool, you are creating a self-cleaning water system that benefits both people and local wildlife, with no risk of releasing chemicals or pollution into the atmosphere, local waterways or environment.

Natural swimming pools use no chemicals or pesticides to maintain the water quality, a welcome relief for those who suffer skin allergies or sensitivities. Through the use of plants and a small aerator, the water ecology is regulated and filtered to keep it clean and healthy.

There are hundreds of ways to build a natural swimming pool and the techniques and systems you use will vary depending on your circumstances. Generally, a natural swimming pool is divided into the swimming zone and plant zones. Usually the centre is for swimming, and the shallows for plants and animals to filter the water.

The plant zone is usually an equal area to the swimming zone. Plant zones have varied depths so different water plant species and varieties can be used, including fully submerged varieties. The plants and animals condition the water, keeping it clean, while the circulation system gently moves the water around the pool to allow the plant beds to remove excess nutrients.

The Seaweed Solution


Seaweed is having a renaissance. For years it has been undervalued; out of sight, out of mind. However, researchers around the country and the world have begun to explore its amazing potential as an alternative to many products and practices which are proving to be unsustainable in the long-term.

The seaweed industry is growing rapidly. Not only in food production where it currently accounts for $5 billion worldwide, but also in the medical and agricultural sectors. In Australia, research into seaweed is still in its infancy, but there are many exciting findings suggesting that seaweed may become a solution to many problems affecting our planet.

Oceans cover 71 per cent of the earth’s surface and with overpopulation and the destruction of natural ecosystems, it makes sense to utilise this vast space as a resource for our growing needs. As well as farming seaweed in our oceans, scientists are exploring potential methods of farming it in man-made ponds and pools.

Foraging Edible Seaweed


Growing in our oceans and lining our beaches, seaweed is familiar to us all. But what many of us don’t realise is the nutritional benefit that seaweed offers.

The edible seaweed industry in Australia is in its infancy. It’s only recently that scientific research is being conducted into the nutritional benefits of seaweed and how we can start incorporating it into our diets.

Southern Australia has more species of seaweed than any other region, with 62% of species not growing anywhere else in the world. This means that we’re starting from scratch when it comes to understanding the health benefits and nutritional values that it holds.