Category Thrive

Bioregions: Our Spirit Of Place


A bioregion is a geographic area with boundaries defined by natural features such as catchments, soil types, geographic features or vegetation types. Bioregions create a sense of place; where people can identify with their location; in which people can create some form of community self-reliance, producing and trading within those boundaries.

The idea of bioregions appeared in the 1970s, along with permaculture and, like permaculture, bioregions are a way of describing things that already exist but seeing them differently. Bioregions are more easily identified in rural areas, but even in cities, catchments such as the Yarra or the Hawkesbury have distinct bioregional characteristics, as do many suburbs.

‘Transition Towns’ has emerged over the last decade as a global movement full of practical actions to build resilience in a world threatened by peak oil and climate change. When combined with permaculture principles and the art of reading the landscape, Transition Towns have empowered communities to produce ‘energy descent action plans’, detailed permaculture designs for whole bioregions, not just for a farm or garden.

Cara Edwards – Urban Farmer


Cara Edwards rents a flat in the heart of Hobart and, despite not owning land or having much space, she has become an urban farmer, using her own small backyard and other pockets of land she has borrowed from friends. She sells her produce from a bookcase converted into a roadside stall, on the footpath outside her inner-city flat. I spoke to Cara about her life there.

Why here?

When my partner Fin and I met, a few years ago, we were both facing the age-old problems of finding ethical work, rising property prices and securing a loan. Last year we leased a tiny flat in the inner-city suburbs of Hobart, Tasmania, and started on our plan to grow a whole lot of food, make a little money and live a productive, home-based lifestyle.

Urban Food Street


The blackboards at every corner of this neighbourhood are a giveaway – there is something at work here, bigger than the sum of its parts. In this pocket of a suburb on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, a community project is changing the way local residents think about food and the act of eating. The scope of Urban Food Street has grown exponentially, and it’s hard to believe it started with one lime.

In 2009, residents Duncan McNaught and Caroline Kemp were inspired by the words of architect Ken Maher, at about the same time as the price of a single lime hit $2. Maher’s work pushed them to think about community engagement with the suburban landscape, and how they could add value to their Buderim environment. This led to the relatively simple act of using the road verge outside their home to grow herbs and citrus trees, for their neighbours and themselves. Caroline explained that, ‘This is an urban area, so space is at a premium. We wanted to take that dormant public space and turn it into something useable and functional.’

Create A Co-Op: Own Where You Work


Co-operatives are re-emerging as a global movement, as workers around the world – faced with rising unemployment and a slow transition to a sustainable economy – employ themselves in jobs they would rather be doing. Co-op laws provide a flexible framework for members to organise alternative ways to buy, sell, and manage work and pay. While companies benefit shareholders, co-ops serve their members, who participate in the business as suppliers, buyers, workers and/or owners.

The co-op model is a natural fit for a permaculture business – selfdetermination and independence, member participation, integration with other co-ops and valuing diversity are all core co-op principles. A business model that reflects permaculture structure also aligns with the principle of designing from patterns to details – co-op structures are flexible.

Jeff Nugent


I did my PDC with Bill in 1983 in Stanley, Tasmania, when I was thirty. Everyone loved the course. I was studying Environmental Science at Murdoch Uni at the time, and had the opportunity to explore permaculture in one of my units. I kept studying until it got in the way of permaculture.


2010 was our first seriously dry year. We went away for a few months and returned to find our soak was merely a puddle. We had to stop irrigating several acres, and ended up watering only our annual veggies, by hand. The established plants and trees had to suck it and see! I was amazed at what survived. We raced out and bought a rainwater tank, and pulled everything in around our house rather than spreading out too far. We realised we hadn’t been growing as many waterwise plants as we thought, and that our management practices had to change. We now use wicking beds, trays and pots extensively.

The Lost Art Of Mending


Have you ever had to throw out a piece of clothing because it got a stain you couldn’t remove, or a hole you couldn’t mend? In our efforts to reduce our burden on the planet many of us buy second hand clothes, or pass on the clothes we don’t want anymore so that they can have another life with another owner. But what about the clothes that are just too stained or damaged to be passed on?

While some of us are crafty, and quite happy to darn our favourite stripy socks, others feel overwhelmed by the prospect of having to mend or alter a piece of clothing. Never fear! The following ideas for altering and repairing old clothes will have you rebirthing old clothes into a whole new sartorial array.

Holistic Management For Life


Assimilating permaculture design as a fluent part of your repertoire takes years of practice. Along the way you inevitably adapt the way you design to suit your style and context of application.

These two statements apply equally to Holistic Management, or managing holistically (as founder Allan Savory prefers to phrase it). Managing holistically is a process for making decisions that are ecologically, socially and economically beneficial in the short, medium and long term. As with permaculture design, managing holistically is something you do in a logical sequence of steps or phases.

I have found that managing holistically helps permaculture projects more fully and consistently realise their promise. Darren J. Doherty put it well in observing that: ‘Permaculture by nature has not been that strong on decision-making, holistic management hasn’t been that strong on landscape design and landscape planning. So we’ve got two methodologies, which on their own are extraordinary, and together, can be so symbiotically powerful it’s just breathtaking.’

Natural Farming In The Family


Symphony Farm, at Tilba on the far south coast of New South Wales, is an integrated beef, pork, chicken and egg farm, run by Mandy and Graham Thompson with their five children, Brohdan, Denham, Huon, Heath and Sarah.

Mandy and Graham were raised on farms, and realised early on that conventional farming practices are not what people, animals or the planet need. Mandy’s father was inclined towards natural farming practices on the family’s diverse thirteen acres, and it was here that Mandy learned the benefits of recycling systems, compost and closed loops: ‘everything was balanced and healthy’, she says.

Graham was also introduced to the benefits of natural farming practices, for the health of people and the land, at an early age. Working on conventional farms as a teen forced him to question if there wasn’t a better way to grow food. Now he follows his instincts when dealing with problems on the farm, and farms without chemicals.

Nat Wiseman: Wagtail Urban Farm


Steven Hoepfner, Brett Young and I set up Wagtail in 2013. After completing an internship with Allsun Farm (near Gundaroo NSW) in 2011, my partner and I started looking for land in Adelaide to start up a small urban farm. Steven joined an urban farming interest group I’d set up, and mentioned he’d been offered land in Mitchell Park, about ten kilometres from the CBD. Along with Brett, we decided to start Wagtail together.

What inspired you?

The idea of trying to make a livelihood from growing vegetables in the suburbs; to see if we could make it work on a small scale and learn from our mistakes before we started something bigger.

Two Men And A Pumpkin


In Feb 2014 Brett and Nici Cooper along with farming neighbours Ken and Carol Maddocks set up Two Men and a Pumpkin farmgate roadside stall along the Bucketts Way, six kilometres north of Stroud, NSW, seventy km north of Newcastle.

Why did you decide to set up the roadside stall?

Our location offered an opportunity to bring our permaculture strategies full circle, providing a financial return that then would support the costs associated with regular farm inputs.

The farmgate stall benefits our local community and travellers from afar as an outlet for chemical free, farm fresh produce at market prices direct from the farms that grow it. Our customers can see our Perma-Market Gardens from the stall and upon request can visit the garden and even taste test some of the produce.

From our Facebook page, we also offer tips on ‘how to cook it’, ‘