Tag Archives: Permaculture Design

Designing the Warré Apiary at Milkwood Farm

Designing the Warré honeybee apiary at Milkwood Farm has taken some protracted thought and planning. As well as designing for bee health, we’re also designing for educational access and best-practice Warré beekeeping, on a slightly tricky site.

The site selected for the apiary is a good one for our climate – an E-N/E facing nook, protected from western sun and southern winds. The main challenge has been the slope, and the fact that the surrounding earthworks that protect the site also limit its access. Continue reading

Latest student urban permaculture designs

The latest batch of Milkwood permaculture design students are currently hard at it in Sydney, taking their Permaculture Design Certificate part-time with the fabulous Alexia Martinez. I thought I’d share some of their latest permaculture designs…

These designs are all the student’s first full permaculture design, undertaken using a place they know well as the site. This design exercise is all about working with what you’ve got, both good and bad. Bring on the shady patios, the hot brick walkways, and the unused verges. It’s all potential for abundance, with the help of good planning and design… Continue reading

Rent-a-Goat weed control: coming to a verge near you…

It’s something we and others have joked about: what if we had a truck full of goats and just went around offering their weed-eating services? How cool would that be?

At one of our recent Permaculture Design Certificates  some of the students designed a rent-a-goat system as a permaculture enterprise that could be added to a farm. But as I’ve just discovered, this concept is already up and running. And chewing. And bleating. Continue reading

Top tank overflow: design + implementation

On occasion, our two big water tanks at the very top of Milkwood Farm overflow. What to do with the intermittent extra water? It’s too precious to just drain away. Time to design a water catchment and planting plan to make the most of it.

Since solving this problem is both necessary and interesting, we decided to develop an intern project around it. The brief: design, implement and plant a system that makes use of intermittent excess water, shelters the intern camp and shed, and provides a useful yield. Go, you fabulous interns! Continue reading

Milkwood Apiary Design Brainstorm

We’ve all been a bit in love with bees around here, ever since we met Tim Malfroy. Actually I liked bees before that, but Tim got us seriously hooked.

We’re now aiming to create a truly fabulous Warré apiary at Milkwood Farm that can showcase small-farm natural beekeeping at its best. And produce many buckets of organic, ethical honey. Yum.

So Tim came to Milkwood last week and spent some time with our interns to help them design the new Milkwood apiary… Continue reading

Our forest garden design: the future is forested and foodlike

Over the last couple of months, we’ve been cooking up a re-design of our top food forest with Harris. Once we move into our tinyhouse, this food forest will be right outside our back door. So we want to get serious about making it a gorgeous place that drips with fun and food.

Up until now, however, it’s been hard to prioritize this project over everything else (including the building of that back door), so things have been rather slow. But thanks to Harris, we now have a design. And that takes us a lot closer to realizing this particular patch of abundance. Continue reading

Urban Permaculture Designers ahoy

One of our students' amazing designs: a re-design for a suburban small holding

So Winter is ending and Spring is on its way.  We spent this winter just gone traveling to Sydney every weekend to teach Permaculture, which made us feel like short-range nomads very quickly. And the end result is now out there; 36 accomplished urban permaculture designers, who will go on to do amazing things. Not bad for one winter’s work. 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.

Our first dam

The studio dam, the one halfway up the ridge and in the middle of our system, was the first one we all sunk our teeth into. And boy oh boy…earthworks are something else… it’s like having your skin torn off in large slabs, while someone tells you it’s not skin, it’s just butter. No problem…

Strange analogy, perhaps… but until I had witnessed these earthworks, the landscape of Milkwood to me was a solid and impermeable mass… something that you could get a shovel into if you were lucky, but essentially one big, solid object. And then the bulldozer showed up. And now everything looks like a completely different place.

We were actually really lucky with what is usually a  traumatic time (don’t get me wrong… it was still pretty scary) when setting up a property… hydrology earthworks are something that you want to only do once, if at all possible. Nick and I had chewed over the Permaculture earthworks design for months, and to add excitement to the situation, we invited Geoff Lawton to Milkwood to teach a Permaculture Earthworks course during the first three days of the madness that has been the terra-forming of Milkwood. Continue reading

Surveying the site from scratch

Having grand plans is all very fine, but there comes a time when one must make the first, single, decisive gesture towards action.

For us, this meant placing a small wooden peg, painted white, at the southern boundary of Milkwood. And then surveying a contour which continued aaaallllll the way around the hillside at the same height as that first peg, right around to the other boundary of Milkwood on the western side of the ridge. This first contour was important to mark out for a couple of reasons: Continue reading


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