It was a winter Permaculture festival at Djanbung Gardens, with over 100 people showing up to our annual open day event.
With a cornucopia of fresh produce and tropical tubers for sale, free permaculture workshops given by students and professionals alike and a great set by local afro-reggae masters Kindling, the place was a hive of activity and inspiration.
After a good day or so of busy bee-ing around the property, harvesting vegetables and tubers and generally tidying up, the gardens were looking spectacular. With an action-packed time schedule for the day, it was all go from 10am as the first inquisitive punters came down to check it all out.
TLUD Stove Construction Workshop
One of the highlights was early in the day, with Conan giving a workshop on the Top-Lit Up-Draft (TLUD) stove alongside biochar gurus such as NSW ‘Charmaster’, Dolph Cook and Barry Batchelor, Director of Black Earth Biochar. The T.L.U.D is an incredibly simple and beautiful piece of appropriate technology, the basic principle being wood pyrolysis or ‘gasification’ rather than straight burning. The fuel (generally small twigs or, in Conan’s case, compressed sawdust pellets) is places into the inner chamber of the stove, which is then lit from the top, rather than from underneath. This encourages the wood to not ‘burn’ in the usual sense, but rather heats it to a point where gases are released, giving a clean, efficient burn more like a gas stove. Conan’s specimen, made from a couple of paint tins and a few bits of wire burned for an hour with little more than a handful of sawdust pellets. Long enough to cook a family meal and boil the kettle to boot!
For more of an insight into TLUD stoves check out this blog: http://backyardpermaculture.blogspot.com/search/label/Biochar
Community Networking Conversation Café
It was all about reconnecting and relocalising with Sofi taking the reins of the Transition movement into her hands and hosting a Building Sustainable Communities workshop. People were put into groups of four or five and asked to discuss what the concept of healthy community meant to them and to talk about ways they could bring this into their bioregion. It was an engaging discussion for all with talk of everything from compassion vs empathy to kerbside veggie gardens and ‘sustainable internet’. It turned out to be a great ice-breaker to have early in the day as well as an effective networking tool for people in the same bioregion to brainstorm ideas for their community.
Seed Saving – The Best Insurance Policy There Is
Things got a bit seedy with Charlie’s Seed to Seed workshop – a guide to establishing the best family insurance policy there is. Using some rotten eggplant and a squishy old Richmond River cucumber (a localised variety originally introduced by an American soldier from the window of a train heading out of Casino early last century) folks were shown how to complete the full cycle of their veggie gardens by harvesting and processing seed. The cucumber and eggplant, as with any ‘wet’ seed, needed to be scraped out and fermented for three days before being cleaned and dried out on paper towel. ‘Dry’ seeds such as basil and lettuce on the other hand (ones that form in a seedhead or pod on the plant and then dry out in the sun) can be plucked and stored in paper bags until every seed has fallen out of the capsule or head or until they are dry enough to thresh and separate from the chaff.
Wild Food Forage & Edible Weeds
Toni took everyone out on an expedition around the property where they were introduced to the various edible obscurities that can be found lurking in most backyard lawns. Gushing forth rave reviews on such delicacies as chickweed salad and apple & dock crumble, she had the entire group practically grazing their way around Djanbung Gardens. Ending up at the bushfoods forest, people were introduced to some of the native goodies that can grow in the region such as the lemon, anise and cinnamon myrtles, finger lime and lillypilly.
Natural Craft Materials
Anyone wondering what to do with their surplus supply of privet were treated to a surprise when Jess demonstrated its superb usefulness as a basket weaving material. She gave insights into various basket-weaving techniques using privet, wysteria and various other commonly found and weedy cane plants, as well as delivering a beautiful demonstration on homemade paper-mache and paper making.
The day was back-to-back action, with every topic being covered from Compost Tea to Bamboo Crafting, and anyone lucky enough to make it down was treated to a lifetime’s worth of Permaculture knowledge condensed into one fun-filled open-day. From the quality and insightfulness of the workshops and the hard work of all of the students and volunteers involved, it’s clear that the next generation of highly-skilled permies emerging from PCA are getting ready to take on the world!