Saturday, 2 July 2016

Working as a permaculture designer and teacher.

School holidays are a wonderfully busy time for me as a permaculture educator and designer - especially with children's workshops. This week was a particularly full one. I led 3 children's permaculture workshops, a worm tower workshop for adults, helped a couple design an urban permaculture garden, and participated in PhD research about living an Off-grid lifestyle. Tomorrow is market day at Crystal Waters where we have a stall and I'll be taking a people on a tour of the village and our place.

Each week my permaculture livelihood brings something different, interesting and challenging, and connects me with different communities and places. I always learn something new - about a plant, about a way of seeing the world, about an innovative technology... I love my work. This week I learnt from one of the mums from India that they mix Ajwain seeds with tulsi - the sacred basil I grow. Among other things, it can be used to sooth coughs and ease asthma. I am going to explore this plant more.

One of the beautiful smiling children I had the pleasure of working with this week with her mini-wicking hanging garden she made at my workshop at Brisbane Square Library this week.

I arrange seeds in their families and put pictures of the plants next to them for the pre-readers. I get many young people helping me to set up, and many of them who like to just get their hands in the seed bowls and feel them.

Rachel - historian, planner, earthship enthusiast and PhD researcher - interviewed me this week. Her work is focussed on Off-Grid living and with me she mostly explored the questions of why I live the way I do and what influences were in my life to bring me to these decisions. It was great to have the chance to think about and articulate this. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and hearing about her research too.

I've got my feet up now - not so much from being tired (OK - well a bit!!), but mostly because I feel happy and uplifted after a rewarding week of work. It could possibly also have something to do with the fact that I started the week on crutches (having torn a calf muscle composting last Friday!?!) and now it's aching and bruised. I had to postpone a food forest consultancy early in the week because of the scale and steepness of their project - I just couldn't envisage managing that on crutches. Next week I hope.


 CHILDREN'S PERMACULTURE WORKSHOPS

I have an absolute ball with the children's programs and am always delighted at their enthusiasm and knowledge. Together this week at libraries across Brisbane, I led free gardening sessions for almost 100 children.  We made mini-wicking gardens and planted them with cuttings of permaculture plants from my garden. We made newspaper pots for perennial cuttings and egg carton seed trays for a diversity of seasonal annuals. We made origami seed envelopes too. We explored ecological systems thinking, permaculture design ideas, edible perennial propagation and seed saving, working toward a zero-waste system, simple living ideas, and ways to protect wildlife and nurture diversity.

This girl is delighted with her cuttings of garlic chives, turmeric, pelargonium and cranberry hibiscus to take home for her garden. She has made and decorated a mini-wicking pot out of a 3L milk bottle to help her get these plants started.

This little girl is taking home some Brazilian Spinach, Sacred Basil, plus the ever popular Turmeric and Garlic Chives too.

At one of the seed stations, the children are selecting a range of seasonal vegetables, flowers and herbs to propagate in their egg carton seed tray. 

My little display at the workshops of upcoming workshops and articles about our garden. I am really looking forward to a Nature Kids program next week and a PDC from August 29 - September 9.

WORM TOWER WORKSHOP


During the week I also ran an workshop for adults at the Forest Heart Nursery in Maleny about worm towers.  The nursery is now the proud caretaker of a new colony of compost worms. Thanks to Hugh for breeding the worms.  My eight year old son, Hugh, is now launching into his second enterprise - worm farming (his first is Hugh's Bike Shed) to supply locals who want to set up worm tower systems. (have a look at this previous post for more worm tower information)

Chopping a length of pipe for a low-set worm tower (I have used the full length of pipe in my garden).

It's important to drill lots of hols for the worms and castings to move out of the tube into the garden. We used a 6mm drill bit here and spaced the holes about 5cm apart through the section that is underground. I don't put holes above ground to prevent flies from finding the compost. 

Extracting the compost worms from another worm farm to place in the worm tower. Mound it up, the worms go away from the heat and light. Scrape off some material and the worms go deeper. Keep doing this until you are left with a bundle of worms. 
  • In goes the pipe - nice and level in all directions (I'm a surveyor's daughter!). 
  • The soil and mulch will be brought up around the tower and the pot will be placed on top. 
  • Inside the pipe we made sure the base soil was loose, we placed some moist coco-peat at the bottom as a bedding
  • We topped it all off with a handful of mulch to help keep the temperature stable and to prevent flies from landing on the food scraps.

ENTERPRISING CHILDREN


Yesterday the kids and I were busy making things for this weekend's Crystal Waters Monthly Market. We have an abundance of lemons and limes so they decided to make marmalade. They researched and trialled a few different methods and made 24 jars of delicious preserves to sell at the market.  I have asked them to write these up - so hopefully you'll see these recipes soon. Maia has decided to join Hugh in worm farming and they'll have worms for sale too. It's going to be a fun day with lots of friends and neighbours meeting at the village green.

Some of the delicious lime marmalade Hugh made.

Some of Hugh and Maia's worms ready to be bundled up.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for positively impressing on the minds of children a different way. We need more of this so when they grow to be adults they can view consumerism with the disdain it deserves.

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  2. Absolutely love it Morag, how wonderful to live and breath your passion! What's that saying "find something you love and you will never work another day in your life" you are truly blessed but the best part is that you share your blessings.
    I can't believe I have missed another open day at a Crystal Waters! Hopefully next month I can make it up there. Have a splendid Saturday
    Fi

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