Dave Jacke changes VEG's game

Well it's been a few weeks since Dave Jacke ran his weekend workshop and in some ways we are still reeling.  Dave has done more on articulating the design process than anyone we know and we have taken much on board after spending time with him.  So thanks Dave for the work that you do - VEG will never be the same again!

Adam, Dan, Dave and Emily (yes Dan tried to impress Dave by wearing his nettle shirt ;-))

Adam acting as the client whilst Dave takes notes.

Brunswick Grape Insanity

A few weeks back Dan & Carey happened across the lovely Christina with a truly impressive grape vine. She had so many grapes she kindly offered to share some with us!


VEG PDC First Weekend

Some photos of the great time (and amazing food) we had March 22-24 kicking off our first ever Permaculture Design Course which runs part time through to late May.


Blitzing St John's

We had the pleasure on the weekend of helping transform/create a community garden at St John's Anglican Church in Blackburn along with 30 or so volunteers from the local community as part of the City of Whitehorse Sustainable Living Week.

Carey and Adam from VEG helped facilitate the explosive flow of people, wheelbarrows, compost, mulch and plants to implement the VEG design. It's days like this when being a part of this business is extra great.  Here's a few photos from the day...


And a letter from the wonderful garden caretakers Alison and Amanda:

Hello Everyone

  We felt the winning of permablitz award was a great blessing.  It came to us as a surprise.  Special thanks to Andriana Kursar (Whitehorse council) and Adam Grubb (VEG, Very Edible Gardens) who arranged everything in a short amount of time for the permablitz day.  We think the concept of permablitz day is wonderful.  We had lots of fun getting to know people from different walks of life who have the same interest and it give us a sense of community that can be very hard to find this time of days. 

  With the help of VEG team and their expertise, we created a very sustainable garden that is practical, low maintenance and beautiful.  We hope this garden will be a little green space for the local people and children, among all the urbanized apartments.  A place for people to recreate, reconnect with the local Church, where children can play and learn where the food comes from.  Not only that, there will be flowers to smell and good to look at.  All in all, we are so grateful to all the people who came on that day and without their help, we couldn’t achieve what we are looking at right now.

Yours sincerely,

Alison and Amanda

St John's garden

Whitehorse Chook Talk

Thanks to Whitehorse City Council for hosting us last night where we gave a two-hour beginner's guide to backyard chook keeping at the Box Hill Town Hall.  Thanks to all who came and for great questions and conversations.  And apologies about Dan's ridiculous impersonation of a chicken walking - how embarrassing is that guy!

VEG Giant Acorn Competition

A few days ago VEG's Dan happened across an oak tree (near Wesley Hill Markets, Castlemaine, VIC) with the biggest acorns he has ever seen.  Here they are. 

Because we reckon acorns are part of the key to the future of sustainable chook, pig, and possibly even human food, we think it is important to start assembling living libraries of oaks with useful acorns.  One useful property is size, another is productivity (how many acorns), another is low-tannin or 'sweetness.'  Now we are not quite at the stage of processing and nibbling on these things ourselves, as the North American Indians regularly did, but we have started trialing them as chook food.  As of right now, we are officially launching VEG's Let's Find the Biggest Acorn in Australia competition. Using a 50-cent piece as the reference, send us a photo of what you got.  Who ever sends through a photo of the largest acorn along with info of its whereabouts (and ideally willingness to mail us a cutting in winter we can graft onto oaks in Melbourne) wins, and we will send you a wonderful prize pack including a copy of the latest chook mag, the upcoming city permaculture three mag and some other cool stuff we haven't even thought of yet. Go for it, fellow acorn foragers, and may the biggest acorn win!  We will assess the results in two months from today and announce the winner.

Acorns and the future of chook food

A key question about the future of chook-keeping concerns their source of carbohydrates, usually imported as grains, pellets or mash grown far away and transported long distances with high energy inputs. Enter the oak tree and its acorns!  Here's how to turn acorns into chook food in six easy steps.

First - find yourself an oak tree and get underneath it.  Having a permaculture co-originator sitting in the tree is optional but can't hurt.


Second, look down and collect some acorns.


Third, pop them into one of daddy's socks.


Three, bang them with a hammer.


Four, if you want, separate out the shells (this is optional, as the chooks will happily do it for you)


Five, take some acorn pieces.



Six, feed them to the chooks.


Which they love so much they will be eating out of your hand in no time!

Disclaimer: We are new to this and all we can say for sure so far is that our chooks have enjoyed the acorns we fed them.  There may be some issues with feeding chooks acorns that we not yet aware of, so please proceed with due diligence should you pursue this promising pathway into the future of sustainable chook husbandry.

ps. Of course this conversation implies the question of how humans get their carbohydrates in future, and many peoples have eaten acorns, either by leaching tannins or finding 'sweet' varieties.  More on this exciting topic here and here...




Pergola power

We have been finding ourselves suggesting and installing several pergolas lately.  Here in Melbourne the shade thrown by a grape-covered pergola above the vegetable garden path makes a huge difference to human and plant happiness during summer.  Just putting it out there but we have rather enjoyed these pergola projects, so if you are interested get in touch and let's talk!

Recent Northcote Pergola

Recent Thornbury Pergola

Pergola install from last year now with grapes coming up (Eaglemont)

VEG @ Clayton St Festival

VEG has been getting amongst it again this Summer, and had a great presence down at Clayton Street Festival on Feb 24 - those people know how to party, and educate at the same time!

Carey was busy all day talking with young and old alike, about the joys of home gardening, using Permaculture to analyze and integrate our growing spaces, and the joys and pitfalls to be had when venturing into being a chicken keeper and compost maker. The latter two were in the form of free presentations, but really it was all that and more throughout the day.

Hard to pick only one highlight, so here's three: 1) Countess Compost & Gazza Garbage were the roving minstrels of the day, tipping all manner of post consumer stuff onto the street, whence they would be descended on by a flock of kids who would learn the difference between rubbish, recyclable, and compostable, whilst scoring points for slam-dunking that stuff back into the right bins! 2) The Chinese Senior Citizens Dance Troupe - old and wise and with plenty of flare! 3) The young lad who is the Compost Captain at his local primary school, who came in to get some pointers about keeping conditions right for his school's living, breathing, indeed magical alchemical pile of organic matter - what a legend!
See you soon at a festival near you :)

Next-Generation VEG Chook House

Some find excitement in the release of the latest smartphone. It takes more than that to get our juices flowing.  It takes something like the release of our Mark III Next-Generation VEG Chook House!  After years of R&D and feedback from some of Australia's foremost chook experts, we have now moved over to a pitched roof made from our ethically harvested untreated cypress timber, not only reducing the mined-material (metal) required but allowing for much more ventilation, more headspace for sleeping chooks, and, we believe, a more aesthetically pleasing finish.  They are so new we don't have many photos yet, but stay tuned, or contact us to ask about our 10% discount for customers willing to try it out and give us feedback.

Next-G VEG Chook House strutting its stuff at the Sustainable Living Festival Recently

The Permaculture Design Process - An Example

A few weeks ago Dan finished helping run a permaculture design course he has been developing for the Koanga Institute at Kotare Ecovillage near Wairoa, New Zealand.  We had 24 participants and a key part of the course, just like in our VEG PDCs in Melbourne, is working in small groups through every step of the permaculture design process to complete a design for an area of the eco-village.  Each time Dan returns he sees previous course designs being implemented on the ground, and it gives the design projects a very practical, real feeling to know that if they fit the bill they are most likely to jump off the paper onto the ground!  In this case there were six design projects to chose from, ranging from a 100 square metre greenhouse to a 50 hectare hill farm block.

One group not only came up with a great design, as did all the groups, but did an exceptional job of documenting the steps they took in getting there.  Let's revisit Katrina  Svensson, Travis Balabuck & Sharon Pitt-Harris's two-week journey from design brief to finished design.

Let us start with the site, a gently falling 1/4 acre ridge block within the fledgling Kotare ecovillage:

After an initial walk over the site, our group conducted a people analysis interview with clients Simon and Jullietta. Here is a summary of the people analysis and Simon & Jullietta's wishlist:

Next our team conducted a thorough site analysis, presented in this poster, shown here in full before we zoom in on different areas:

At the top we have a sector analysis overlaid with drainage patterns, relative solar access, and distinction of flatter top area from sloping areas around it...

Next the overall site dimensions...

...microclimates, levels and aspects...

...and a profile showing slope through a slice of the block...

Now design begins, with an initial draft sketch of how different required areas might map onto the site's identified microclimates:

And an exploration of how this might play out in more detail...

Before going into further detail before crash testing all the layouts, flows, and connections between elements to see what can be improved...

Culminating in this poster presenting their final design...

Here's the main concept plan...

...a close up of flows and contour layouts of garden beds and paths...

...and an overall summary of guilds and the zones of use they occupy...

...a few details such as the log-edged sandpit surrounded by espaliered pome fruits... bench...

...and pergola for grapes (for making wines obviously)...

...and here is a connections map that helped in the process...

Great work team - I have a strong feeling next time I am at Kotare Ecovillage I will see some of your ideas unfolding on the ground! Thanks to all for a great course.

If you are interested in doing one of our PDCs see here for our one starting soon in and around (mostly north-west) of Melbourne and here for the next Koanga PDC.

See large photos and photos of other designs (100 square metre greenhouse, the above 1/4 acre design, a 50 hectare hill block and several others) and the course participants here: