Category Thrive

Permablitz: Working Together

As its name suggests, a permablitz is a permaculture version of a backyard blitz. It’s a great way for like-minded people to get together, share knowledge, food and friendship, and build better edible gardens.

A permablitz sees a group of people come together to implement a permaculture design on one member of the group’s property. The lucky host (the owner or renter of the property) gets a permaculture design done for them and what would be months of work, completed in a single day. In return, the host must provide the materials as well as a healthy and filling lunch, drinks, and morning and afternoon tea.

Urban Farming: Spoke & Spade


Simeon Hanscamp finished his university degree and was searching for meaningful work. He took a short business course, worked on a market garden, studied online with Curtis Stone (the urban farmer, not the celebrity chef), watched a bit of YouTube, and decided he would have a crack at setting up an urban farm.

‘Opportunity comes from initiative,’ says Simeon. His business Spoke & Spade in Melbourne’s urban north-east was born from compromise; balancing his partner’s desire to travel, finances and family. Simeon runs his business across three sites in Heidelberg, Ivanhoe and Heidelberg West. He lives in one, and on the other two he exchanges vegetables and water bill money for free use of the land.

Broadscale Permaculture At Millpost Farm

In the hills east of Canberra, down a dusty lane that winds up past the Lake George escarpment through Yellow Box Woodland (full of finches, thornbills, cuckoo- shrikes, kookaburras and robins), there is a rusty old gate with a stencilled sign that says ‘Millpost’.

Millpost was windswept and degraded when David first arrived in 1979. Since then, we’ve planted or direct-seeded approximately 15 kilometres of native windbreaks using eucalyptus, acacia, bursaria, callistemon and casuarinas.

Sheep are excluded from about 100 hectares, including riparian zones, to allow natural regeneration. Stock and wildlife alike benefit from shade and shelter in every paddock. Big increases in bird populations (135 species) mean improved natural pest control. But it’s not all good news: the resulting increase in kangaroo numbers threatens our viability.

Hand Made In Heidelberg: Fd Ryan Toolmakers


Hidden amongst the factories and warehouses of Heidelberg West, FD Ryan Toolmakers is a father and son collaboration between Matthew and James King. They specialise in hand making bespoke garden tools that are built to last. While the collaboration may be young, this fledgling business has a long history that incorporates the family’s own story over four generations.

The FD Ryan workshop sits alongside the larger warehousing operations of the family’s main business—a bustling warehouse involved in importing garden tools for the Australian horticultural market. Matthew recalls that when he began working in the family business, started by his blacksmith grandfather Frederick Daniel Ryan in 1933, it was heavily involved in metal manufacturing (in particular, steel caps for the booming footwear industry in Fitzroy, Melbourne). But with the decline in Australian manufacturing, and iconic brands like Blundstone shipping operations offshore, the business had to change. ‘We went from being a manufacturer to an importer,’ says Matthew. And so a workshop full of steel manufacturing tools, some of them over 100 years old, lay dormant for nearly 20 years.

Frugal Living: Live With Less So You Can Live More


Life seems to be getting busier. We are working more, the cost of living is rising and so too are stress levels. We have seemingly less time for ourselves and our families. Even if your work is satisfying and fulfilling, having to work long hours to make ends meet affects your quality of life.

Imagine if you could reduce your hours of paid work, giving you time to do more for yourself in your home and become more self-reliant. This is possible and achievable. To change and simplify your life, you’ll need to spend less than you earn, take control of your money and pay off debt. Read on for a series of steps you can take to start taking back control of your life:

Neo-Peasantry: A Way Of Life


As a culture we have chosen climate change. We have created it through unbridled desires, our modes of travel, consuming passions and our gluttonous economic form. As a family, on a household income that would be considered below the poverty line, we have chosen another path.

Living With The Seasons

In many ways how we live is a form of neo-peasantry, observing and interacting with the six distinct Jaara seasons (early spring, true spring, early summer, late summer, autumn, winter), drawing on the surviving spirit of the moneyless ecological agrarianism that has existed on Dja Dja Wurrung country, where we live, for millennia.

We spend the autumn preserving food, filling the cellar, collecting fallen wood on foot, and planting alliums, broad beans and brassicas. The winter is a time for collecting mushrooms, dispatching roosters, preparing composts, and drinking plum pip mead and beer made from our hops, honey, dandelion and burdock roots.

Feather And Bone


Laura Dalrymple and Grant Hilliard run Feather and Bone, a small Sydney butcher selling pasture-raised livestock sourced directly from sustainably run, mostly local farms. Laura shares her story.

Grant started the business in 2006, in a fit of blind enthusiasm about rare-breed sheep. He’d worked with unemployed youth, as a waiter and sommelier, and studied filmmaking – not exactly the background you need to become a butcher. He didn’t set out to be a butcher, but merely followed his fascination with terroir and food.

We believe there’s a fundamental link between the way an animal is raised and how it tastes on your plate. Our business is built around the desire to ‘open up the line of sight’ between farm and consumer, so that decisions are informed and considered.

Slow Fashion


The slow movements’ gradual transformation of every facet of our lives has (unhurriedly) extended itself to the rabid international fast-fashion industry. While the idea of ‘fashion’ might seem frivolous to those of us who walk the path of permaculture, the way we clad ourselves can have a very alarming environmental impact, and one which we often overlook while we’re busy in the garden, smelling the rosemary.

If you own clothes, then you are almost certainly a participant in the fast-fashion industry. Open your wardrobe. Have a really good look. Who made your clothes, socks and undies? What are they made of? Where did you get them? How long have you owned them? When will you replace them? And where will they go when you’re done with them?

Fashion – though the word might make you cringe – is something we all participate in, one way or another, on a daily basis. Clothes are our wrappers: they tell the world who we are, and carry their very own cultural and personal identity baggage. They can tell us much about class, status, occupation, wellbeing and culture, so it’s no wonder we’ve been coerced, collectively, into the trillion dollar fast-fashion industry, ever striving to perfect the image of ourselves we wish to project to the world.

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.

Easy-Peasy $4 Singlet Dress


Western societies have been enthralled by technology since the beginning of the industrial revolution. From mechanised looms to 3D printers, technology has lifted people out of poverty, increased life expectancy, freed us from menial work, reduced pain and suffering, and helped us to see the world in new and illuminating ways. However, technology is a two-edged sword, for it has also brought pollution, extinctions, an exploding human population, unemployment and, of course, the warming of our planet.


A permaculture approach to technology is more like the ‘slow food’ movement than the high-tech, cutting edge of modern industry. It is technology that works for us, not enslaving us to it. It is technology that connects us to our place and community. It is beautiful and enhances our lives. It is more like a long, slow lunch with friends than a drive-through takeaway.