- Published on Thursday, 16 August 2012 19:33
This afternoon, after a very enjoyable residential design consult in Northcote, Dan dropped by Auburn South Primary in Hawthorn to check in on a few little bits and pieces (including a nifty little automatic watering system for the chooks). It was a lovely afternoon and the place is looking so lovely that Dan shot a little movie of the new system, including 16 VEG beds and a good-sized chook system. Stephanie Alexander herself will attend the grand launch of the garden in a few weeks and much is being planted and prettied in all directions! The chooks arrive in a few days and we can't wait to see how they enjoy their new digs...
- Published on Thursday, 16 August 2012 18:06
One of our biggest design and installation jobs last year was Julian & Linda's place in Eaglemont (see pictures here and a few youtubes here). Part of that system was a duck pond and hutch within the large orchard enclosure. We helped Julian source two beautiful Silver Appleyard ducks and he tracked down a most handsome male. They have all been busy doing their thing and now Julian has beautiful pure-bred Silver Appleyard ducklings on his hands. Here they are and if anyone is interested in getting some by all means get in touch.
- Published on Tuesday, 14 August 2012 11:24
Rose Creek Estate has been described as "Tuscany in East Keilor". Approaching all you see is an unassuming house on a suburban street, but venture down the driveway and behind the house and a remarkable six acre hillside -- a commercial olive plantation and vineyard appears! Here Tony and Lina have hundreds of olives and 3000 grape vines from which they produce award winning olive oils and (with their son Angelo) wines. They also have a wonderful house garden with lots of chooks, huge veggie beds, bananas and wide variety of fruit trees. What a paradise! Of course not one that looks after itself entirely... Lots of hard work. But that hard work doesn't seem like a chore when there's more than ten of you.
How did he learn to do all this?, we asked Tony. 'Lots of mistakes' said he.
If you’ve been following our newswire, you know some of the VEG crew and friends have been taking regular trips into the country to meet and work with some of the most creative farmers in the region. The skills and principles we can often bring back to the backyard. This time we didn’t have to go far, Adam and Will even rode their bikes.
The sun shone kindly on us nearly all of the day as Tony and his friends Frank and Tony guided us through their grape pruning strategies, and together we strolled down the rows (well Frank and the Tonys almost jogged, they were twice as fast as any of us), talking, learning and having a grand old time.
Lina cooked up a truly wonderful (and huge) lunch with olive oil and wine from on site. Luckily Paul brought chocolate covered coffee beans or we might not have been able to keep working.
But before we knew it we’d pruned 2/3rds of
the grapes (2000 thousand of them) and it was time to call it a day. A great one at that.
Don’t miss out on the wonderful, talented and generous Tony and Lina's open day in a couple of weeks, as part of the Sunburry Wine Festival:
2 Craig St East Keilor
Sunday 26th of August 2012 11am to 4:30pm
More info: www.rosecreekestate.com.au
- Published on Monday, 06 August 2012 11:08
Dusk is a magical time in the garden. Starting in spring, and as daylight savings gives us longer evenings, come and join Kim in her lush Heathmont permaculture paradise for one or more of these small-group workshops and light supper.
It started with growing a few pea seeds in a pot. The magic of germination and harvesting that small crop has grown into a passion (some would say obsession) for growing food and learning how to live more sustainably. The pot of peas has developed into a productive permaculture garden on half an acre - with 33 fruit trees, a troupe of chooks, lots of veggies, bees, and a year-round source of delicious, nutritious food.
She has a social work degree (counselling techniques now applied to her wayward poultry and dogs) and has completed a PDC with Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton. She's spent a year managing a permaculture project in Uganda. Her life is enriched by messing around in the garden, challenging herself to live more simply and sharing this good life with others. Kim's one of our favourite people in the world, with one of the best gardens.
It's a true treat to visit her in her element, learn from her, and to share her food!
See the garden featured on Channel 7's Guide to the Goodlife.
- Published on Monday, 30 July 2012 15:31
After a successful initial visit, last week eight VEG teamsters headed down to Dalpura for a couple of days of work amongst the many thousands of trees planted on the property. Under guidance from property owner George Howson and property designer and internationally acclaimed permaculturalist Darren Doherty, we set about pruning the likes of oaks, carobs, figs, mulberries, black locusts, honey locusts, tagasastes, acacias and many others. It was great to get more experience in pruning trees for timber, which requires pruning to a single central leader (opposite of how we prune most fruit trees). If anyone out there needs a hand pruning their fruit trees do get in touch as we love it, we're tooled up, we're skilled up, it is a great time for it, and we're ready to roll.
Here we are getting briefed by Darren & George on our jobs on the first morning...
Simon & Lex getting busy with the pole lopper...
George chatting to Simon & Callum before they go to it with the pole saw and pruning ladder. Great job on the big oaks fellas!
Lunch on day one. See the day two lunch here.
The most recently developed area at Dalpura...
Here explained by Darren:
Ciela (Amanda & Dan's daughter) chilling with Will & Paul inside at the end of the day...
Very serious, straight faced morning warmups (Lexercise) on day two...
An overgrown pear in the house orchard moments before Dan gave it a haircut it will never forget...
Calling in the big guns - Lex removing/trimming some overgrown tagasaste blocking light to fruit trees (speaking of Lex here's some lovely photos he took during the two days)...
Embarrassingly Dan got the VEG ute bogged at the far end of the property, meaning...
Darren had to come and rescue us with the tractor:
- Published on Thursday, 19 July 2012 11:47
We're excited to be hosting Rosemary Morrow in Melbourne in August.
Widely known and respected for her work as an international permaculture
teacher, writer and consultant, Rowe will be sharing her conclusions
from many decades of permaculture education in a four-day residential
Permaculture Teacher Training Course over two weekends in Heathmont
(note this course is now full) and a special evening at CERES (still seats left). Rowe's
visit prompted us to reflect on some of the amazing experiences VEG's
Dan, Amanda & Will have had working with this intrepid permaculturalist during the last five years
on projects in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Timor. In the
process we put together a few photos and videos (mostly with Rowe, some with VEG's Dan, Amanda & Will):
You'll see from the last photo that when in Melbourne Rowe travels in style!
Here are some video clips taken by Amanda of her and Rowe's latest trip to Ethiopia (to be part of a longer upcoming documentary we are working on).
Here Rowe comments on the Konso landscape and its relation to its people:
Here Rowe checks out a 100% locally initiated school community garden project contributed to by a student of an earlier PDC:
Here Rowe shares lunch with Amarich - a Konso local and past student of Rowe's:
This one is a description of a community greywater system by two wonderful friends (Kambro & Aylatte) from the Konso region of Ethiopia where Dan helped Rowe teach Ethiopia's first Permaculture Design Course in 2008:
This youtube is a tour of the Sabina Permaculture Project that Rosemary and Dan then Amanda helped kick-off back in 2008:
- Published on Monday, 16 July 2012 08:28
When designing edible gardens, a site-specific problem will often crop up. One of the most enjoyable aspects of permaculture design for us is devising site-specific solutions to those problems. In this series we give some examples from our experiences in Melbourne, with a new one each month for the next few months (you can check out Part One here).
Part Two – The Magical Chicken Tunnel
In late 2009 we were engaged to complete a design for a ¼ acre block in the Melbourne suburbs. It was for a family of four and the husband in particular was keen to grow lots of food.
The Site-Specific Design Problem
Most of the backyard was to be dedicated to the two little girls, meaning a grassed play area, sandpit, shade sail, cubby house, trampoline, and a large hills hoist washing line (for overseas readers, a hills hoist is as Australian as a kangaroo).
We located the chook house under the cubby to save space, and so the straw yard (a compost producer) would be adjacent to the main veggie patch (a compost consumer). Our problem was then how do we get the chooks from their house and straw yard to their run along the back fence? It was a problem because the washing line extended to the fence, meaning any sheets or large items of clothing would hang down and catch on even a low chook fence.
The Site-Specific Design Solution
This was the first time we used what we now call a magical chicken tunnel. Strictly speaking they are not magical, but it has a nice ring to it, we think. It is a mesh wire tunnel about 35cm high and 30cm wide through which the chickens can dart back and forth. Here's the overall design (see a bigger image in this article):
And here's a close up of the location of our first magical chicken tunnel (inside red oval):
Here's the tunnel in operation just recently:
It is a solution we have used several times since. Chook tunnels have actually changed the way we think about and explain chickens and the benefits they can bring to an edible garden. For you can think of chickens as being like water. You catch and store water in a tank, and you use pipes and taps to transport and distribute that water around the garden as required – a pulse of water here, a pulse of water there. Similarly, you catch and store chickens in their house, and you can use tunnels, runs and gates to transport and distribute those chickens around the garden as required. A pulse of chook here, a pulse of chook there. Being able to easily pulse the power of chook is a wonderful thing, and beneficial to both chooks and plants.
Here's another example (design indicating tunnel location then photos):
With a little youtube of Sassy testing it out (Sassy usually pretends to be a fox to test how fox proof our chook systems are but in this case she's pretending to be a chook!):
- Published on Friday, 06 July 2012 14:43
Whilst working out Mt Alexander way recently, Dan & Nath from VEG happened across some remarkable worm feats of soil building. Check it out:
- Published on Monday, 02 July 2012 20:31
We recently helped Peter from Fitzroy to get edible on the pavers and asphalt outside his terrace house, installing a couple of raised beds over the course of a day. Fully approved by Yarra Council, one of the beds is a parallelogram and rather eye-catching, we think. Check it out in the photos below and we'll add some photos of the beds chockas with veggies soon.
- Published on Sunday, 01 July 2012 00:00
Thanks to Deb from Weedon Heights Primary for sending the following statement from the school through. We are stoked at the win and delighted to be working with the school.
Weeden Heights Primary School in Vermont South is the Australian project winner of Project Earth’s 2012 World Environment Day Global School Contest. The school’s unique project to manage storm water triumphed from over 1700 project entries and is recognized in conjunction with the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The school took an innovative approach to solving a significant environmental problem involving storm water, which was not only detrimental to the school, but also damaging to adjacent private properties and local waterways. The school worked in partnership with the school community, local community and design expertise of local permaculture design firm VEG (Very Edible Gardens), to deliver the successful project.
This project not only overcame a local environmental issue, but provided the opportunity for the school’s students to have hands on experience in protecting and enhancing their local environment. This was reinforced by education sessions and associated research projects. The program was fully supported by the local community, neighbours and local authorities, with Yarra Valley Water representatives speaking to students on sustainable water practices.
In November 2011, a 40 by 2 metre contoured channel known as a swale was built along the edge of the oval which then drained into an existing earth drain. The swale was designed to slow any runoff and to hold 40 000 litres of water, to be slowly discharge into a proposed indigenous garden that was created by the students in 2012.
“We are extremely proud to have been chosen as a Project Earth 2012 winner,” said School principal Susan Campbell. “Programs and recognition like this continue to motivate the students to not only become involved, but to stay involved with community and environmental initiatives”.
School Council president Alan Taylor said “I’ve been amazed by the enthusiasm of the students for the project, vision of the teaching staff and the whole of community commitment to implement the VEG recommendations”.
Weeden Heights Primary School in Vermont South has a proven record and prides itself on creating a differentiated curriculum that caters for all students. In 2006, Weeden Heights commenced the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden project, now boasting an extensive vegetable garden, storm water recycling and chickens, with all Grade 3-6 students participating in regular integrated lessons in the kitchen and garden.