Monthly Archives: July 2009

Permaculture Design Certificate Comes to a Close

Our PDC Crew at Zaytuna Farm, Permaculture Research Institute. Photo credit: Craig Mackintosh

Our PDC Crew at Zaytuna Farm, Permaculture Research Institute. Photo credit: Craig Mackintosh

Sorry this is a quick one! I’ll add pictures when I’ve got a better connection!


When the PDC began Geoff spoke about memory. How time seems to inch by slowly in the moment, speed by upon reflecting on it, and hold no real definition or colour when there is no emotion or life attached to those memories. But when experiences are full of life and emotion, time passes quickly in the moment, but in reflection memories and time expand seemingly forever because everything is held in vibrant technicolour and detail. It makes sense to me; even the difference in how children and adults perceive time makes sense when you think about it this way. Everything is fresh and exciting for curios children, so time seems warped and expanded. Unfortunately, for so many adults time speeds past as they work uninspired by their surroundings. 


Anyways, my point is that my time doing this Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) has sparked every curiosity and passion I have for the inner workings of our environment, and how these systems are connected and can be enhanced to support a hopeful & sustainable future. Every subject that I studied in University, from hydrology to ecology and toxicology has been drawn upon, and I can’t wait to learn more. Often while I was studying at Uni I enjoyed myself, but felt that there was something missing – the link between all these topics. For me, Permaculture is providing this link, along with realistic and practical ways to act upon this knowledge to create positive change. Transformative and inspiring, I’m excited to move on from the farm to learn more and share as much as I can. 


So are you wondering what all this permaculture stuff is about? It’s a good question and to be honest it’s difficult explain.  Geoff has a great analogy that might be helpful in explaining it. If you can imagine all the different techniques and tools for sustainability that you can think of (i.e. biodynamic farming, alternative energy, bioregions, etc) – they all fit on clothes hangers.  Permaculture is the wardrobe that holds them all, connects them all, and organizes them into a functioning system. A big part of permaculture is food production, but I think it is less about agriculture and more about regenerating and repairing the land and soil. To do this we mimic natural ecosystems and succession in our designs, and understand where food production, farms, communities, cities, etc, can fit into and enhance these systems. 


It is a scientific design of landscapes to create and enhance ecosystems within which sustainable systems for food production and communities to thrive. Each element of the system serving multiple functions, using resources from within the system, and providing resources for other elements within the system. It draws upon and connects all the sustainability tools we already have into a cohesive and efficient system.



Friday Night on the Farm

I thought I’d give you a snapshot of what hanging out on Zaytuna Farm has been like instead of describing every day in detail and writing for pages and pages! So here’s last Friday night!


After dinner we were all milling about the veranda when one of the interns walked by; she had a big torch (flash light) in her hand and looked like she was on a mission. Someone piped up and sarcastically asked if she was off to check on the sheep or something. 


“Yes I am. No one has checked on them yet today and you know what happened the last time we left them,” she replied.


The “last time” the sheep were not checked, twins were born and no one had known about it!  A couple of us got up and followed her up the driveway to the paddock. We decided to keep going and go for a walk to stretch our legs after the long day of class. We wandered up the road, passing rolling farm fields, and eventually ascending a steeper road up the ridge. As we passed pockets of trees along the road the occasional flying fox (a theme seems to be developing here) would pop out of the canopy and fly overhead. However, as the road got steeper and the trees became denser there were more and more flying foxes! As I tried not to freak out about the increasingly blackening sky over our heads, I heard a “splat” and felt a cool liquid running down my face. I suppose it’s good luck to be pooped on by a bat? I’ll leave it up to you to imagine the screeches, laughing, and mad attempts to wipe my face clean. I wore my hood for the rest of the walk.


As we got back to the Zaytuna Farm gates, we noticed that another student was in the sheep paddock trying to heard them into the small holding pen. We yelled to him to see if he needed a hand, and he responded, sounding a bit exasperated, that help would be great. Remember that it’s probably past 8pm and the sun has long set. We jumped the fence into the paddock, put our head lamps on, and got the low down on what was happening. Just after we had left for our walk, Fleur (the intern) had found a new born sheep on the wrong side of the fence (talk about intuition)! It didn’t look well, and had been rushed down to the house. Details beyond that were scarce, and time was short – our mission was to identify the mother sheep and get her into the small holding pen so she could be milked for the lamb. 


We ran, we stalked quietly, we formed barriers to try to close in on the flock, but we had no success. We would occasionally spot the mother amongst the crowd, but couldn’t get her separated. To our credit, it was dark and this particular breed of sheep is incredibly skittish. After about half and hour of running around in circles (literally), Geoff and a bunch of the other interns and students arrived on the scene. One or two circles with our bigger crew proved no more successful, and we decided to abandon ship. They had been successful in milking one of the cows, and it was decided that would have to do until morning.


Despite our efforts, feeding her cows milk, and warming her up by the kitchen oven, the little lamb passed away shortly after we got back to the house. With a sigh and a moment of silence, Friday night on the farm came to an end.


Ending the Permaculture Design Certificate

The PDC ended today, and already the atmosphere on the farm has changed significantly. It’s much quieter and calmer now, and it was really nice to spend the afternoon decompressing after the intense two weeks. 


The last few days have been particularly intense because we actually completed a design consultation exercise! We were split up into four groups, and each group worked on the same property – our resulting designs being a donation to property owner as a community service the Permaculture Research Institute likes to do. 


We visited the property, got a brief from the owner, and got to work designing what we thought would fulfill all the owner’s priorities. However stressful and time constrained it was, It was also really exciting to actually go through the process, and I think that it will make it a lot easier to go out on my own knowing that I’ve done this starter exercise. Yesterday afternoon, the property owner came down to the farm and all the groups got up and did 45min presentations. 


After all the presentation finished, we had a big feast, and then the party began! Everyone was required to do an act, and we had so many talented musicians, singers, and performers – it was a great night! I think it would have been a bit anticlimactic to end the day after the presentations finished, but the party was a great way to wrap it up. It was also nice to see that after only a couple weeks of knowing each other, our group was comfortable enough to do a talent show like this. 


What’s Next?

That’s a good question. Tomorrow, I’ll be doing some tree planting here on the farm. Sunday, I’m off to Byron Bay to meet up with Miranda. I’ll make sure to upload some photos then! 



Filed under Permaculture, Travel

Permaculture Design Course Underway

Photo credit: Chris Mackintosh

Zaytuna Farm - Photo credit: Chris Mackintosh

Wow! I don’t know where to start… or where it will end! It’s been an amazing few days here on the farm. I don’t have the time or bandwidth to get into details, but Craig (the internet/media/photography guru here at the farm) has posted a few photos that you might like to take a look at.

Click here to check out Craig’s recent blog post.

*I’m hidden in two of the photos – look for the bright pink!

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Filed under Permaculture, Travel