Tag Archives: milkwood permaculture

The fire and the fury: Alexandria Permablitz

happy nick

Given that we are currently teaching a PDC with 40 students in the same precinct’s community centre each weekend this winter, it seemed to make sense that we should harness some of this influx of energy and point it at the garden. So with the help of Sydney Permablitz crew we put out the word and look what happened – a truly amazing day that saw the planting of a 70m living fence, new garden beds, no-dig potato patches, a new community worm farm and the beginnings of a food forest. Catch and store energy, indeed… Continue reading

Sydney Permablitz! Monday 14th June 2010


Please join us this coming Monday for an all-out, fabulous explosion which will create biodiversity, edibility and community along the edge of a football field in Alexandria, Sydney. It’s a Permablitz! 10am-3pm on Monday 14th June: everyone’s welcome. Bring your friends, your granny and your gloves. And it’s free! A combined effort by¬†Sydney Permablitz, Alexandria Park Community Garden and Milkwood Permaculture. Continue reading

Permaculture Design: Quirindi Public School Community Garden

Here’s a design we did a while back for Quirindi Public School Community Garden. Quirindi Public School is the centre of a diverse farming community in a small town in Central West NSW. Their climate is temperate and not dissimilar to Milkwood – heavy frosts in Winter, quite hot in Summer, and rainfall once predictable and now erratic. Quirindi, like much for the Central West, has also been in and out of drought for the past 7 years.

Late last year Quirindi Public School invited Nick along to do a consultancy and design a permaculture community garden and outdoor classroom. Nick took along Milkwood Permaculture interns Stephen Couling and Ko Oishii, this is what they collectively came up with – a design incorporating current and future use, active learning areas, butterfly garden, vegetable beds, rainwater harvesting, community composting and multiple opportunities for a growing community involvement.

We look forward to seeing Quirindi Public School’s garden grow, blossom and fruit with many good things.

FRESH movie screening: Sydney May 28th

fresh movie

Milkwood is hosting a screening of new documentary FRESH at 7pm on Friday, May 28th, at Alexandria Park Community Center in Sydney. The screening is free and everyone’s welcome. Directions to the venue are here.

Come along and enjoy free organic popcorn as you watch (or perhaps re-watch) one of the best documentaries around on food as we know it and what we can do to reclaim good, clean fair food in the western world today. Following the film will be an open forum on possible strategies for local food systems in the Sydney basin and beyond.

FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing their food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of their agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of all our food and our planet. Continue reading

How to Make a Wicking Bed

A wicking bed is an excellent technique for growing things in environments where water is scarce. It’s got two main parts: the bottom half is a contained reservoir filled with gravel and water and the top half is filled with soil, mulch and plants. By periodic flooding of the deeper half of the bed, mature plant roots get a big drink. And because it’s contained, that water gets a chance to ‘wick’ upwards into the soil, hydrating the soil of the bed and the smaller roots within.

Pretty simple, really, but amazingly effective, very water efficient and ripe for endless variation.

Below is a photo essay outlining the process of creating a wicking bed using everyday tools and materials, which took 5 people about 4 leisurely hours to make. It features the efforts of our awesome PDC students in Alice Springs earlier this year, led by Nick Ritar who also designed this particular wicking bed system.. Continue reading

Milkwood Internships

tanya + jesse
Tanya + Jesse making a no-dig vegetable bed outside the Milkwood Classroom

As part of our skilling-up phase, back in the days before we moved to Milkwood, both Nick and i spent time at various Permaculture farms and properties all over the joint. We learnt to milk beautiful, melting-eyed jersey cows, hack away at spiny amaranth with machetes, shift un-cooperative cell-grazed sheep, make good compost and propagate seedlings.

We emptied compost toilets, learnt to slaughter animals mindfully + respectfully, figured out how to make fresh bamboo shoots edible and coaxed elderly solar systems back to life with creative wiring. It was sort of like a really long-winded, purposeful camping trip, and we learnt a great deal and became enthusiastic about many things that we just didn’t ‘get’ previously. Sometimes you’ve just got to do it to get it – reading and talking about it aint the same. Continue reading

Urban Permaculture Design Course

ncik teaching in Newtown
Nick Ritar teaching an Urban Permaculture course in Sydney last summer

Designing Permaculture into inner-city environments is, in some ways, taking things to the heart of the matter. Our cities are so often synonymous with waste; wasted water, wasted food, wasted energy. But it doesn’t have to be this way – abundance and productivity is entirely possible within city environments – as always, it comes back to good design, and the energy to see things through.

So this Winter we’ll be running an Urban Permaculture Design Course which will be quite a treat: a part-time Urban PDC with a 12-day, one day per week format, in the centre of Sydney starting May 29th 2010. Continue reading

CarriageWorks’ Kitchen Garden Project


Just a wee heads-up that a most encouraging initiative is being launched in Sydney this coming Saturday 6th Feb. Namely CarriageWorks’ Kitchen Garden Project. Another nudge in the direction of local food security. Huzzah!

If you’re a Sydneysider you’re probably already familiar with CarriageWorks’ Saturday farmer’s market, which has a darn fine range of yummy regional produce and is fast becoming the biggest farmers market in Sydney. With this Kitchen Garden Project, CarriageWorks are pushing the notion of ‘creative sustainability’ through a series of events and workshops which I hope will result in more kitchen gardens outside (or inside) more local kitchens. Continue reading

New Milkwood Permaculture website

MPC website

A brief but shameless plug for our brand new website over at www.MilkwoodPermaculture.com.au. Over this winter we’ve been very busy selecting and organising a bunch of great teachers and courses to fill our calendar for Spring 2009 through to Autumn 2010. There’s Introductory and also Urban Permaculture courses, Compost Tea workshops, Keyline Design Courses, the full-blown Permaculture Design Certificate course and who knows what else still yet to come.

Oh *and* our courses are FarmReady accredited, so if you’re an Australian farmer, land manager or in the family of either, you can do our courses completely free through the FarmReady subsidy scheme. And you even get a refund on travel, accom and childcare. Wow. If I didn’t already live here, I’d come here just to attend something. So go on over, have a look at the site and tell us what you think? I think we’ve even ironed out most of the spelling mistakes now…

Autumn adventures

students planting trees on the swale

Our Permaculture Design Certificate students planting trees on the main swale

‘Twas an autumn of harvesting apples, and to a degree, reaping what we had sowed… we may not have brought a crop in at Milkwood, so to speak, but we sure did our Autumn toil.

To summarise the last period of time, Milkwood was awash in farmers, tractors, students, caravans and Keyline Plows. There was much planting of trees and eating of stews, and many, many pots of tea were drunk… a wood-fired shower materialized, a bigger (quite deluxe, really) Milkwood HQ caravan arrived. Landscapes were charted, courses were convened, hillsides were surveyed and many cakes baked… Continue reading


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