Our First Permaculture Design Course

We have just completed our first Permaculture Design Certificate course as facilitators.

9 of the 12 students upon completion

Fionn has taught on numerous PDCs before and Laura has also. We’ve even taught on the same PDC before, but never solely as Fionn and Laura Quinlan. This, for us, is a real milestone. Something we’re very proud of, though are still very much aware of the managing and tweaking that can and will be implemented to make our next course even better.

We began designing our course around 6 months ago. Utliising the SADIM methodology, along with broader permaculture design techniques we mapped out the desire lines of the course, stated intent, objective and desired outcomes. Some of our included intent/objectives included goals as lofty as “assisting in creation of new neurological pathways”, through to more humble objectives like, “creating a safe space”. Upon initial analysis it would seem that we either accomplished stated aims, or we certainly got very close. This was however a particularly spirited and diverse group of 12 individuals, whom without it is obvious to us that none of it would have been possible.

the crew in front of our wee plot

The course was held over two weeks at the pictresque Hare Krishna Community outside Murwillumbah in the Tweed shire.  The children joined us, tentatively introducing them as a part of our tribe and an integral part of our journey together. So with tingle of excitement for what was to come we, slightly noisily, introduced ourselves to our group of 12 budding permies.

A final design highlight (Nicole Fredman)

Throughout the course we were able to take a couple of short trips to see some of the finer points of permaculture in action. We paid a visit to Australia’s best established Syntropic Agriculture plot, run by Scott Hall and an on and off again team of willing helpers. We also invited the whole crew down to Djaning to see our ever evolving 21 acre plot, with an emphasis on closed loop systems, earth works, main frame and garden design. These trips and grand design schemes, coupled with regular morning contributions to our shared plot at Krishna village, run ins with local Syntropic marauder Thiago Barbosa, swims in the nearby river, and regular yoga sessions made for all round fun and informative two weeks.

Students planting seeds at Djaning

 

If you’re at all interested in ecology, community and self sufficiency or the environment more generally then pop along to our next course planned for 2019. See https://krishnavillage-retreat.com/ for more details.

Conscious Design and The Importance of The Nucleus

We find ourselves stepping back from the potentially overwhelming task of creating a new life at Djaning to visit our old friends and family on the other side of the planet. We’ve now been in the UK for a very eventful, packed full of learning 3 months. Here over a few posts I hope we can briefly surmise our findings, and perhaps offer some ponderings for future… pondering!

First off the bat is the all important nucleus; The core of everything and anything. As designers we constantly look at and implement zoning plans for landscapes and are enabling others to do the same, though it would appear we’re only just now seeing this as wholly applicable and even necessary to and for ourselves at a psychological and emotional level. And although we’ve read it, have been told it, and have instructed others to do the same, the importance of our Zoning is only now seeming to come home to roost.

encouraging our daughter to photograph our Zone 0 made for some fresh perspectives.

For those who aren’t in the know of permaculture nomenclature, Zoning refers to the sphere of influence of the designer, homsteader. For example Zone 1 refers to the immediate surrounds of our home and dwelling, Zone 0 being the home itself, whereas Zone 5 is the outermost area, often being a wilderness area rarely visited, and very rarely, if ever, altered. The importance of these zones and what you do with them will naturally radiate outward. As if throwing a stone into calm waters, the more concentrated the effort and the size of the ‘stone’, zone 0, the easier it is to create ripples in the outermost areas of our pond of influence.

The importance of Zone 0 illustrated.

For us, being on the other side of the world, with a bit more space and time to observe what we’ve created thus far, we’ve noted that we’ve been creating aspects of almost all our zones in an attempt to see the bigger picture of our design take shape. This in part has been necessary to enable the framework of the larger design (dams, swales, access), though have found ourselves overextended in our attempts to develop all zones at once.

Enjoying the rain in our Zone 4 Swale.

Although this is, in hindsight, painfully obvious, its taken us some time and space away to realise the importance of what it is that we’re creating for ourselves and our little family. Allowing the time to observe what we need to sustain our lifestyle in all its aspects has been of utmost importance.

A perfect use of Zone 5

It’s the marriage of theory and practice that hits you upside the head. This ‘praxis’ has for us manifested in witnessing our Zone 1 garden flourish because we’re there all the time (duh), while our plantings in our Zone 4, along our swale have seen some fairly drastic failures (close to 40% of trees planted died – this was however part of our larger strategy; applying S.T.U.N.). This is not only applicable for the health of our garden and food production but for ourselves mentally and physically through the creation of a ‘safe space’ for us to not only grow but to thrive in. With this safe space, or nucleus firmly grounded we’re better prepared and equipped to pulse out from this consciously designed space.

Zone 1 Lushness

More mental meanderings from our trip away to soon follow. Stay tuned. x

Oak: Homo Sapien, Ka-Pow! & Slow, Creeping Confidence

How is one supposed to compose a considered piece of writing after several months of disengagement? Easy right? Well, not so much.

The fact that we haven’t written has been playing on our minds, and the fact that it plays on our minds creates further blockages. We do however feel we have more than enough ‘excuses’ to warrant our absence. We half promised ourselves we wouldn’t do this, but here’s at least one good reason why we haven’t ‘blogged’ for such a long time.

Baby.

Yep, a baby boy. We called him Oak. Yes, we named him after one of natures most brilliant gifts; a tree. But we also named him after a feeling, an energy, and a human being.

First off, we should probably apologise to Oak for using him as an excuse for not writing our blog. Then we should explain and thank him, as because of him we’re relearning to slow down. To wholly appreciate. To savior moments.  To stare into a little face and know that at each moment he’s receiving information  that is completely new. Never before has this little being seen a sun rise, a sun set, a rain storm, a cloud, a flower, a smile. This in itself is something to be greatly treasured… With of course “treasured” being a limited term in its capacity to describe such an on going transformation.

So with this new post, we acknowledge Oak Elliott Quinlan. Soon to be 4 months old. Just beginning to smile, giggle, recognise familiar faces, tones, and sensations. With this post we publicly embrace our newest friend and family member.

This all goes without mentioning further council approvals and the mountains of paperwork that includes, the Australasian Permaculture Convergence, Family from England visiting, erecting a yurt, planting innumerable trees, organising future workshops and courses, realising dreams, and conquering inner demons. Which we all know takes a whole lot of…

Now that we’ve explained ourselves, we’d also like to take this moment to acknowledge the passing of one year, one full cycle around our star on our little rock, since we’ve been on Djaning.

We’d like to share a few of the things we’ve learned in this time.

First of all, we’ve realised one year is a long time. It’s also no time at all, and for many things it’s just enough. It’s as if you only really begin appreciating and comprehending the passing of time once you’re doing that which you feel you were put on the earth to do. Or, begun listening to ‘your heart’. Cheesy we know, but it’s true.

The near 1000 trees we’ve planted so far are establishing themselves. We’ve witnessed a year of weather cycles; the deciduous trees shedding their leaves, the frost pockets showing themselves (minus 2 a few nights), the warming up of Spring, and the intense, humid heat of summer (45 degrees on one brutal Sunday). Through observing these cycles we’ve been better able to plan our movement through the land and its emerging organic design.

Our first ‘final’ design

The “final’ design we began a year ago is now coming into its own as the main frame is in. As many who’ve implemented such designs, there’s certain restrictions to any landscape. It’s curves and features naturally lend themselves to only a set number of mainframe alterations, ‘facelifts’. Djaning being no exception. As our two dams, main swale, and entrance road are now settling in, we have begun to be able to observe more closely our, and most importantly, natures, patterns.

Our zone one is evolving through this observation, tweaking our design as we use the space. The few citrus and stone fruit trees we planted a year ago are now settled in and are producing some excellent desire lines around our space, their edge becoming giant over flowing beds of perennial guilds. it is so exciting to watch this evolve and grow. “the edge is where its at” Thanks Charlie, David and Bill!

A happy and slowly evolved mix of pollinators, edible perennials and annuals, featuring; Kan Kong, lemon grass, nasturtium, sweet basil, stevia, cucumber, passion fruit (panama red & Norfolk black), native yam, strawberry guava, pigeon pea, lemon, native ginger, cape York lily, Brazilian Cherry, calendula, Brazilian spinach, seven year bean, winged bean, marigolds, chilli, comfrey, geraniums… on and on…

Our space is becoming a filled in canvas of food. Painting the landscape with garden beds. Our initial excitement at growing an array of annuals was quickly sidelined by the emerging perennials. As the delicious and common place annuals were eaten up and gone, our perennials kept growing and gave us something even more inspiring than just beautiful garden beds. Interesting greens like Kan Kong and the mushroom plant make excellent stir frys. We have all manner of wonderful herbs – medicinal, edible, insect repelling – this world of wonderous plants is just opening up to us and we love it!

Our flowers attract bees and insects, and really add to our overall moral through their constant changing beauty.

So with all this and more, we’ll be sure to keep you up to date with our progress and happenings.

Also, (another reason for our lack of blogging perhaps?!), see our up and coming as well as our recent forays into permaculture teaching!

Here:

Fionn teaching @ Zaytuna Farm, Home of the Permaculture Research Institute

Here:

And Here: http://krishnavillage-retreat.com/permaculture

This is Permaculture, right?

It’s 6am and it’s 2 degrees inside our caravan. The frost has killed off what was looking like some promising Cucumbers and Zucchinis, along with about 30 Pigeon Pea saplings and a bunch of other stuff. We’re wearing multiple layers, under the covers, drinking some not-too-bad Chai, and laughing. Guttural laughing. It started as laughter due to our 2 year old friend and companion doing something hilarious, it then gradually built as we began making fun of ourselves and the situation we’ve not only find ourselves in, but knowingly, willingly put ourselves in. Then comes the question (or is it a statement?) “This is permaculture right?!”

HotChoc

For all our pondering, we guess it is. Well, sort of. As we’ve heard on more than one occasion “It depends”. This is our brand of permaculture. The one where you drop more or less everything and begin to reinvent yourself literally from the ground up. Now we suppose that if we were horticulturalists, engineers, or any brilliant combination of anything that may serve our new found direction well, this whole process would, or could possibly be a whole lot easier, or just different. But we’re not. We’re artists, and educators, and learners and lovers, with a few healthy streaks of farm and woodland through us.

Dirt Path

One of the key tactics we’re learning is to drop our egos and ask questions. We always hear, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question”, but when you’re in ‘The Bolt Barn’ asking “Where do I put the bolt?” or in the local plumbing shop asking “Where does the water go?” you tend to feel you’re stretching the limit of that saying. But we’re learning. Every time we do ask an ‘interesting’ question we’re one more question away from complete ignorance and a little closer to implementing our permaculture dream.

Djaning real estate
The end of the ridge is where you’ll find Djaning Farm.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑