Permaculture Principles Masterclass

In late July, I will be running a one day event in Suffolk (UK), exploring the permaculture design principles as outlined by David Holmgren in his 2002 book “Permaculture: Principles & Pathways beyond Sustainability”.  In the fifteen years since the book was published, David’s set of principles have become increasingly recognised as suitable for application to a wide range of contexts, rather than just applying to landscape or garden design.  In this workshop, through a process of individual and group work, we will explore each principle, find personal examples of each and look at how multiple principles can be used to help make decisions in relation to a single project, such as writing a song or building a house.

More information and tickets are available here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/permaculture-principles-masterclass-tickets-34854634149

chestnut farm principles card game

Cubby front wall

The last couple of days have seen some great work done on the front wall of the cubby.  Glen, new WWOOFer from the UK, took on the job of finishing the front wall, which was started by Clara a few weeks back.

chestnut farm cubby front wall 001 chestnut farm Glen cubby front wall 01

We’re cladding the wall in old fence palings.  They’re Australian hardwood and probably already 60 years old.  With a double layer of palings and a coat of paint, how long do you think they might last?  Another 60 years?  longer…?

chestnut farm cubby front wall glen 02

After finishing the second layer of palings (which are off set to cover the join line of the lower layer), Glen got stuck into a first coat of paint.  We’re not sure of the final colour but Pepper is keen to have the cubby painted and decorated as flamboyantly as possible, so consider this one an undercoat!

chestnut farm cubby front wall glen 03 painting

Pepper is being very patient about the time it’s taking to finish the cubby.  She loves working on it and says to me “We do a little bit every day, Dad”.  Wise words from a 4 year old.

chestnut farm Pepper at cubby June 2 2017 chestnut farm Pepper pointing to her name June 2017

Forest gardening in the Scottish Borders

It’s June already!  In a few weeks, I’ll have the very great fortune to visit Graham Bell at his home in the Scottish Borders.  Graham is an inspirational thinker, business person, campaigner and long term permaculture trainer (who was Ian Lillington’s PDC teacher many years ago).  I’ll be chatting with Graham, currently President of Permaculture Scotland, looking for ideas to improve both Permaculture Australia and Ballarat Permaculture Guild…

…but I’m also very excited to visit Graham’s forest garden, which Tomas Remiarz has described as ‘the best established .. in this country’.  Here’s how Graham describes his garden:

It’s a life’s work, an ambition constantly being realised. It’s a soft factory where food and fuel create their own abundance. It’s a classroom and the best meditation space I know. It’s a place to be in love and to play and to eat out. It’s an energy source and a living changing example. It’s a work of art and a solace. It’s a home.

Look forward to a report and lots of photographs.  Meantime, check out the forest garden page on Graham’s website.  Or Tomas Remiarz book Forest Gardening in Practice (a review of real life examples of forest gardens)  is available at Real Life Forest Gardens or your favourite book seller.  The cover looks like this:

Chestnut Farm Forest garden book

North wall window

I lay in bed last night as a huge thunderstorm pelted rain to earth.  It sounded like it was sitting directly above my place.  I wondered if I’d been a little optimistic on Friday when I didn’t put something over the window space in the north wall of Pepper’s cubby house.  I’d put corrugated iron around the window but didn’t get to put the window in before it got too dark to work.

Sure enough, the floor was wet this morning, so I swept it out and used a couple of sunny hours to put the window in.  Some scrap angle iron made great flashing.  The window is the unbroken half of an old bathroom window I salvaged.  The corrugated iron is from my brother’s dairy.    Still the South and West walls to finish before I go to Europe on June 19, but good to have half of them ticked off!

chestnut farm cubby window

chestnut farm tick

Obtain a Yield

The permaculture design principle Obtain A Yield often conjurs images of lush vegetable gardens or fruit trees, but there are many other yields to be found.

Yesterday I removed some roofing iron and old timbers from the roof of an abandoned dairy.  The timbers were old Australian hardwood; very strong and increasingly hard to get.  Because they are aged, they won’t twist or shrink.  The timber comprised 4 x2 purlins (already removed prior to photograph below) and 5 x 1.5 rafters.  I found a bit of borer in some of the purlins, but the rafters were all in great condition – and the larger ones measured out at 5.3 metres (sorry to mix the metric & Imperial systems, but I’m bilingual)

chestnut farm roof timbers obtain a yield

By the way, this is not Produce No Waste….  Produce No Waste relates to your place and your systems: when you go somewhere else and scavenge, salvage or forage something that someone else would otherwise discard, you are obtaining a yield.   😉

The roofing iron was 7.3 m long – too long to fit on my tandem trailer – so I cut it in half.  3.65 m is still a pretty useful size sheet.

chestnut farm roofing iron obtain a yield

Permaculture Design Course hosting

It has been a fabulous weekend; I’m really enjoying hosting the Ballarat Permaculture Guild PDC group… a great crew and it’s a real pleasure to share the farm with them on this learning journey.  Yesterday, we spent a beautiful Autumn day  at Melliodora – David Holmgren & Su Dennett’s property in Hepburn – where David gave the group a property tour in the morning (focussing on design process) and we talked about his upcoming book Retrosuburbia in the afternoon.

Chestnut Farm Melliodora dam autumn Chestnut farm David Holmgren laughing Melliodora PDC tour

Today the PDC group were back at the farm to have an enthralling day led by Ian Lillington.  We swept across several of the permaculture domains: land tenure, housing options, finance & economics, group processes, health & spiritual wellbeing.  In between robust discussions of LETS systems, the Brixton Pound, co-housing, whether there’s a place for spirituality in permaculture, how renters can crank their permaculture systems and much more, the design teams had brief meetings to set themselves for the final weeks before their presentations in June.  It was a FULL day!   🙂

Chestnut Farm Ian Lillington 2017 PDC Chestnut Farm Liz laughing

…and we’re back!

Welcome to the new Chestnut Farm website.  We’ve simplified the site and made it easier to stay in touch with what’s happening.  Our blog posts now go directly to the Farm FaceBook account, plus you can now subscribe to have blogs emailed to you directly.

It’s been a busy 6 months at Chestnut Farm and I’m very excited to be heading to Europe in just over 4 weeks.  I’ll be attending the Permaculture Scotland Gathering June 30/July 1 & 2, doing a weekend forest garden course with Martin Crawford in Devon and also offering some one day courses in Suffolk, so share that course info with your UK friends!  [If the details aren’t up yet, give us a day or so. .. 🙂]  After the UK, I’ll be in Germany for a few weeks, so…

…if you know cool places to visit in either the UK or Germany, please let me know…   🙂

Last weekend I was elected to the Board of Permaculture Australia, so thanks to Richard Telford and Oliver Holmgren for nominating me and all those who voted for me.

chestnut farm rainbow