Category Meet

Pip Permie Of The Year 2018


This is our inaugural Pip Permie of the Year Award. We started this award because we wanted to celebrate dedicated people making change in the world with permaculture.


Callum Champagne, Che Hall, John Champagne, Karen Lenehan, Kat Lavers, Kate Venning, Kelly Ryder, Oscar Woods, Peter Axisa, Phil Shanny, Remus Avramides, Tania Brookes, Tom Speldewinde.



Interview by Robyn Rosenfeldt

Aaron Sorensen is our Pip Permie Of The Year for 2018. Aaron’s dedication to permaculture has made a huge impact in the schools he is involved with and the students he has taught. Aaron works with kids, teenagers and adults to teach them how to practically implement permaculture into their lives and gardens. Aaron is creating lifelong learning pathways for students from kindergarten to year 12 with career opportunities at the end.

Finding Community Through Gardening


These five inspiring people from refugee backgrounds have come to Australia and found their sense of community through gardening. By either joining or creating community gardening groups, they have become part of a network of people sharing ideas, knowledge and food, supporting one another through the difficult transition to a new culture.

Mariam Issa moved to Australia from Somalia 19 years ago. Finding herself having to bridge the gap between her family and their new community in Melbourne’s affluent suburb of Brighton, Mariam was inspired to start RAW in her own backyard.

RAW is a grassroots organisation that also comprises a permaculture garden, which brings together women to connect in a safe and welcoming space.

Alternative Economies: Groups Working Towards A More Resilient Future


Bought a whipper snipper and only used it once? Fret no more, as tool libraries will stop you from buying things you rarely use by allowing you to instead borrow what you need. Brunswick Tool Library has 250 active members who utilise the shovels, mattocks, axes and many other handy tools available to them, all for the cost of a small annual fee. Karleng Lim tells us how it works.

What was the impetus for starting Brunswick Tool Library?

Our founder Joleen Hess lives in Portland, Oregon, where there are four tool libraries. When she was living in Melbourne, she lamented the fact that there weren’t any in what was considered to be a progressive part of town. Being quite the DIY-er herself, she thought that one day she might start one. When the proverbial stars aligned and an opportunity came up at NORM Warehouse in Brunswick in early 2013, she took it!

Urban Abundance: Productive Small Space Growers


The Plummery sounds like a sprawling countryside property. Its garden beds grow an abundance of vegetables, with surrounding fruit and nut trees underplanted with shrubs, herbs and flowers. Bubblegum grape shades the house and there’s a greenhouse with bananas and babaco. A quail aviary sits by the side of the house and on the southern side are avocados, feijoas and a cherry guava.

Yet all of this is contained on a 280 m2 block in Melbourne’s inner city suburb of Northcote, at the home of permaculture designer Kat Lavers. Last year, the Plummery provided 350 kg of herbs, vegies, fruit, eggs and honey, with Kat only spending half a day a week gardening. ‘Sometimes I dream about planting oaks and chestnuts, but the reality is I don’t have the time to manage more than I’ve got,’ says Kat.

Kat is creative in overcoming spatial limitations, saying it has made her a better designer and gardener. ‘You can’t bury your mistakes under the rug!’ she says. ‘Observation and interaction are virtually constant and therefore so is the learning. It also means that you can concentrate your compost, mulch and water resources on a smaller number of plants. Many gardeners don’t get these basics right and have poor yields from much larger gardens.’

Rare Trades


What is a cooper ?

Someone who makes a watertight vessel out of timber. It involves a lot of skill and practice.

How long have you been coopering ?

‘I’m a fifth-generation cooper. I made my first barrel when I was fifteen, and I came to the trade full-time when I was forty – thirty years ago now. I’m an old bastard.’

What sort of vessels do you make?

‘Mostly buckets and barrels, butter churns, hand-operated washing machine tubs. I’m retired now, and I make mostly for alternative lifestylers, barrels for dry goods, wine and whisky barrels; they’re made to last. I have buckets my grandfather made that are still as good as the day he made them, ninety years ago.’