Monday, September 10, 2012

Grafting Wtih Graeme George

Graeme George is a National Treasure. His wealth of knowledge is like non other that I have crossed, not am likely to ever come across this life time. We were lucky enough to have him for an afternoon of grafting at the Ballarat Observatory in August. The heritage conservation of fruit trees through grafting is something that I came across at the Toora Heritage Pear Orchid and so it was lovely to have this experience re-enforced during this weekend workshop. Withing the process of harvesting heritage species the importance of good record keeping is essential - and while labeling your stock and cyam is the obvious first step - keeping an electronic record is probably more critical. Which reminds me to photograph and blog what I grafted and planted!

Farm Stay at David Arnold's Murnong Permaculture Property

The All Season's Permaculture course has moved into Spring and we celebrated with a Farm Stay at David Arnold's place Murnong, at Violet Town. Having now visited several Permaculture properties, what struck me about David's design was its clear Zones and forward thinking. Consideration to succession planning was not obvious at first, but after spending the day walking the land with David, the complexity of his design became more evident. He had made use of Peter Andrew's leaky wear system to create a miniature delta flood plain (while the drought is over), with nearby town run off, that runs through his property, much the same as at David Holmgren's place at Hepburn Springs. Two elements of David Arnold's property got me really excited - the first being the emphasis on Agroforestry and the second his approach to grass or paddock spaces as microforests also to be managed through seasonal "pulsing". David consideration of tree species for optimum yield - for both fruit and timbre has developed over years of working with re-forestation projects and also through the simple method of trial and error. This is an area which has scope beyond what we could cover over the weekend and hopefully down the track an agrofrestry course may follow this PDC! At first glance of David's design, there appeared to be a lack of layering as is seen in the common design of food forests. However, as David spoke about the spacing of his orchard species, in relation to rain fall and soil type the picture above the surface of the soil began to make more sense. This is a farm which is harvesting soil life and plant complexity in all forms. What appears to be grass is in fact a microforest of species for trapping and ultimately recycling micro-organisms and nutrients into the orchid and farm system as a whole. What is critical for this element of the system to work is timing the cutting of the grasses, allowing for enough growth to harvest the full potential of the plant life both above and below the ground. Although not perfected, and still with a huge number of elements yet to be brought together, I admire David's ability to "Accept Feedback" and relate the land as a teacher.

Friday, June 8, 2012


New designs have been drawn up... the Tree Surgeon has visited and this long weekend transplanting will begin to make way for the new landscape design. The last 2 months has seen a huge amount of clearing, weeding, newspaper, weedmat and mulching and now its time to get preparation in progress for Spring. This past 5 months have been spent either in Ballarat starting the Permaculture Design Course or in the Garden. I am both inspired and exhausted. The more I learn - the more time I want to dedicate to the process of engaging in the environment and learning from Nature. A report and overview of progress thus far to follow.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Retrofitting the Burbs

I had the chance today to sit in on David Holmgren's Retrofitting the Suburbs for Sustainability at The Wheeler Centre.

It was very timely. Getting into work - a colleague spoke about how crazy the amount of time it took him to commute into the City given that he lived just North/West of the CBD. We had both experienced not being able to board 2 trains/trams simply because we couldn't fit in!!

As I took the tram up Swanston St and compared the volume of foot traffic to when I was studying in the city 10 years ago ... it feels as though it has doubled.

With what David describes as our Energy Descent Future and the subsequent reduced mobility of people and goods - moving either closer to the city or re-locating to a job closer to home is already looking like an appealing option.

At the moment riding my bike is an option - but even along Swanston St - with the new MEGA Tram Stops (no more Trams actually servicing these stops) the bike riders are currently battling with pedestrians and tram, so bridging the South Side of Melbourne has become ever more of a challenge for our warriors on 2 wheels.

But above the doom and gloom David's talk was humorous and engaging. I live in a street very much like the one he described in his talk on 'Aussie St' - a neighbourhood of four houses battling to come to terms with a failing economy and energy crisis. What rang true for me out of this talk - was how much richer in community we can potentially become. Choosing your neighbours wisely in this scenario was critical. I see the 'incremental adaption' that David described already emerging. I run a small business - using recycled material - not only because I love the vintage look - but because having worked for a multi-national fabric company - I know the extent of price exploitation on imported fabrics. I am also aware of the social and environmental impact fabric manufacturing has on our Asian neighbours - where most imported fabrics are sourced. I see the increments becoming leaps and bounds before we know it. Its not only a rather confronting time to be alive - but if you are willing to move out of old habits - its a really very exciting time - to watch and see - can our innovation overcome our fears.