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, community

The next step

Building is one of those biggies. We may want to extend family space, create additional space, make our backyard more multi functional or all of the above.

But what a lot of us non builders don’t realise is, when you say ‘let’s build an independent turf roof covered studio’ it’s not NEARLY that easy. If only.

Once you’ve committed to a big fat hole in the ground (100t of soil excavated), then the questions really start. What are the most environmentally sensitive materials we can use that fit our location, need, budget, accessibitly, council standards,¬† minimal impact. So – not easy and far far far away from simple.

You may be in a flood prone area. Or bushfire prone region. Or both at the same time. Maybe there are privacy issues for your neighbours. Maybe to make your structure meet regulations, your shopping list may be limited.

 

the next step (building ocnstruction).jpg

BUT – there is a world of wonder and connectivity. You may end up meeting some of the more remarkable people you wouldn’t normally cross paths with. When you’re genuine and treat people like extended family, they give back. A volunteer does 6 hours of working with hardwood above head height, does the dishes and then another 2 hours because they can see how much of a passion project it is. And they’re still smiling.

The food is good at our house, but not that good! All the professionals we’ve had round have been are absolute treasures. incredible stories being woven into the fabric of this building snugged into a north facing hill.

So captured here is the independent stairs, edged in wax wood (rather than any other toxic compound) back filled with gravel for drainage. That massive concrete wall to the right – a water tank doing double time a retaining wall, being on the southern side of the build will stay lovely and cool. Sandstone retaining wall, predominantly from our backyard. Labour of love is an understatement.

Putting the icing on this cake are our glorious neighbours, because without their blessing and driveway, there is no chance of realising this dream. I think we’ll have to create a tribute wall to every single peep involved with the process, as it just goes to show what collaboration can do.