autumn, community, explore growing

Learning from the curious

The opportunity to learn should be a right, but quite often I like to think of it as a gift. What a treat to meet someone that spark’s curiosity (or to be the one inspiring others) so much they want to find out more, give you their time and energy to grow.

This is exactly what happened to me last week, but time moving as it does, it went by in a blur. We had a gorgeous group of permaculture students through, seeing how we’ve implemented and overlaid permaculture design principles to our home. Could have happily chatted all day long, as it was – we only had 1 1/2 hours to engage, inspire and faciliate the site visit. I heard we got a tick in the inspiration department, so yay.

 

I LOVE questions. Sometimes it’s tricky to hear everything when we’re all spread out (hot tip 47 – bring people in closer for an outdoor discussion), maybe not everyone heard (hot tip 48 – repeat question so whole group benefits), slowing down to really embrace the minutes together (hot tip 1 – have a plan of the way you’d like to share).

IMG_1024.jpg

So why the mulch ??

We had a question about managing our grass. (Not galahs) Grass fields are great for games, not so good in the market garden. Our answer – manage by mulching – sheet mulch the area.

For this you need a few things – newspaper (our neighbour drops hers over the fence once read – her contribution to our garden), mulch (free woodchip from a local arbourist), moisture (if you’re lucky) and time. Start at the highest point  you wish to eradicate grass from with a pad of around 10 sheets of damp newspaper. Lay the next batch of 10 sheets down, overlapping the 1st set by a good 10 cm. And on you go – ’tiling’ the grass underneath. Cover all with a good 10 cm layer of woodchip and you’re done. The main aim is to deprive the grass of light, making it extraordinarily difficult to grow. Tile from the top so the water can still penetrate to the soil, but keeping the light off the grass. Beware of trying to do this job on a breezy day.

Over time, these layers eventually return to their original material – soil.

Job done – no grass and more soil and a few more people inspired to try stuff out.

Big shout out to Milkwood Permaculture for the really fabulous work they do.

collaboration, everyday, explore growing, homegrown, observe

Why we do what we do….

_DSC0747.jpg

Thanks you so much beautiful Kelly for your patience !

….I’ve been struggling to write a decent business plan of late, so whilst watering this morning, I came up with a brain dump of why all this important to me….

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO……

Short answer – because I’m curious.

I want to see how seeds grow, what happens in the light, I love the play of water on the garden.

I don’t want to create more waste to be a problem and I like to know how (at least part) of my meal is grown.

I want to be outdoors and not too far from home.

I love seeing how soil comes to life when you feed it properly, when you get the layers of mulching right and the garden helps do your job. When opening a bed, there are so many worms partying and their little bodies glisten metallic shades in the sunlight.

I love it when it’s quiet enough to actually hear the bees and the winged life early in the morning.

I love being able to harvest something I’ve helped to grow, sharing with people in our local area & knowing that local businesses love supporting our adventure.

Having food in your lunch box knowing that it’s come from only meters away is pretty cool.

I’m in awe of all the amazing people I been fortunate enough to meet, being so generous with their time and skills and experiences helping me on the journey to growing food.

I love the passion these people have, it’s not just an occupation, it’s a way of being.

I love that I don’t have to dress up to go to work, it’s more about being sun smart and protecting yourself from the elements.

(Sometimes I start work in my pajamas and that’s ok)

It’s really cute hosting morning tea, feeding those volunteering with us, being able to reciprocate a little nourishment.

My respect for the humble salad has grown exponentially – what goes into a mix isn’t just leaves; it’s a whole kaleidoscope of energy and resources and people power. None of this matters if you don’t feed the soil and look after the lifeforce which make this possible.

It’s really awesome when work is pretty much equal parts play and productivity. How awesome when you can encourage people to play with their food, play outside and there’s a little incidental learning along the way.

 

 

 

collaboration

Brace yourself

Any reasonable sized project requires a little plotting and scheming – especially if you’re working with reclaimed materials and even more so if you’re trying out techniques you’re unfamiliar with. Like earthen floors and a turf roof.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So this little studio was the test pilot for her big sister. Start small and learn.

Soil on a roof top weighs a lot, then add water, Thermal mass is super important as our neck of the woods really heat up over summer. The original concept was as an inside outside house. Dwelling in the cosy heart, nap, quiet read, (no wifi reception was an accidental bonus) storage around the periphery so it’s possible to access from the garden.

It’s a happy space. Loads has been learnt. The earth floor only took two attempts. Drainage around the site was a major piece of the puzzle, sitting at the bottom of a hill as it does. The studio has beautiful and unplanned carving over the door, thanks to one of our lovely passionate volunteers. He saw the space and asked permission to fill it.The only first thing you see in the morning is greenery and chickens.

Many hands helped to craft this building. Many materials were gifted, but this didn’t make them any lighter to carry.  Neighbours were called in last minute to help maneuver experimental wall panels destined for landfill into place. Sometimes I like to think I have very mild superpowers, but reality set in and I’ve come to realise weightlifting isn’t one of them.

I was asked for input on the bracing (so it looked more ornamental than purely vertical), this idea was sketched. Kinda like pick up sticks, dropped. To get the beautiful finish (and shortcut to the roof for the kids). Timber was de- nailed. Planed. Measured into place. Edges were chamferred. Cut. Hidden nails. Bio oiled. Now a work of art. Can’t even remember how long just that element took, but when you’e crafting living buildings it’s all about an energy exchange.