Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011 Dreaming ...

This year we have been dreaming of taking our permaculture design to a new level. We spent most of the last 12 years putting the core of our design in place, but there were several large elements that we didn’t get around to starting, and many, many details were left unfinished. This was not a bad approach as it gave us time to observe and assess how everything worked so far. We have now developed quite a large list of modifications and new projects that we are planning to start in 2011. It will be another busy year but we are excited by the thought that more elements of our permaculture plan will come to fruition. (Many of these projects were on our drawing board back in the 1990’s, so we have been very patient.)

Somewhere to park the car
We have a garage attached to our house. However for the last 10 years we have used it for a multitude
of other uses and the car only ever got a look in once. The garage space is just too convenient a workspace, so it has become a workshop where we house our tools and the materials that we need on hand. Our solution is to build a steel shed where we can keep our car and trailer parked undercover. However like most of our infrastructure it will have many more functions as well. We will attach our woodshed to it (see below), have extra storage areas and in the future we may use part of it for milking goats. The fact that it is 20m from the house and made of steel, means that in a fire situation, our cars will be under cover and we can store fuels away from the house. The cars will also be protected from hail damage. We have applied for the planning permit (a ridiculously convoluted and complicated process) and hope to commence building in the next few months.
The garage turned into an Art Gallery
New Woodshed
We have a wood combustion stove and wood heater, and soon will be the proud owners of a stationery steam engine that runs on wood fuel. (More on this in a future post.) Our existing woodshed is not quite big enough to develop a system where we can continuously store enough dry wood to run these three appliances. At present when we add more wood to our woodshed we have to shift the existing pile forward so we can add wood at the back, which gives it some time to completely dry out before we use it. We will relocate the woodshed to the side of the above garage and develop a system that ensures a continuous supply of dry wood.

Our existing woodshed
The hothouse will be relocated north of the new garage. This site is a bit more protected from wind, and allows us to water the plants with rainwater collected off the new garage roof. We can use the existing hothouse site to grow more nut trees and/or create an area for goats to graze.

Relocation of our solar system
The panels will stay where they are but we will shift the inverter and batteries down next to the house. This will necessitate the laying of a heavy cable but we will maximise the use of the trench digger, by laying electric cables to outbuildings so they can have an electrical supply.
Having the batteries and inverter under shelter and close by, will enable better monitoring, ease of maintenance, better security and should ensure they have a longer life. They will also be adjacent to our new steam engine setup, allowing for 24v input directly into the batteries.

Access Tracks
Our 400m driveway has coped very well over the past decade, but after the recent heavy rains it is in desperate need of rejuvenation. The main need is a grading of the surface to reform the camber and clearing out the gutters on each side. Regrowth after Black Saturday is seriously encroaching on both sides of the drive. Whilst we have the equipment on site we will also upgrade the access track to the solar panels. A non-flammable driveway surface will create a firebreak around the solar panels and improve our ability to hold back a fire on this side of the property should we ever need to do so again. This track would also provide vehicle access to our zone 2 gardens.

Interpretation Centre
We originally obtained building and planning permits to redevelop our old barn several years ago, but other events prevented us moving ahead with the project. So this is probably the biggest of all the jobs we have on our list and this year we hope to get the concrete slab in place and perhaps start infilling the mud brick walls.

Our list of dreams continues in the next post.....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


All the planning and hard work was rewarded by perfect weather and a beautiful and very successful day with over 2000 folk turning up.

Crunchy Love Mobile Woodfired Pizza - YUM!

Zaar Belly Dancers

Edible Weeds from  Hello Little Weed

The moonlight walk was magical

Seed Savers

Solarquip had all the up to date info about alternative energy
Autumnfest had a huge “growth spurt” this year. It has matured into a celebration of the wonderful community that exists in Healesville and the Yarra Valley and is a result of the cooperation, help & support of hundreds of people. It aims to promote a healthier food supply system, display the work of community groups, showcase local talent, raise awareness of future alternatives & possibilities and of course to provide a pleasurable day of activities for everyone to enjoy. The highlight was the grand opening of the magnificent Healesville Labyrinth.

The "Smoking Ceremony" to open the Labyrinth
During the day we spoke to hundreds of people and were delighted by the positive feedback and happy responses. Thank you to all participants and all the visitors for helping to make it a lovely and special event. The photos show some of the day’s activities.

The colorful scarf run
Tenderbreak's colourful stall
The best news of all is that it will all be happening again next year on March 24. If you want to join in as a stallholder or volunteer or just be kept informed about the event, keep an eye on this blog or send us an email and we will add you to our mailing list.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Autumnfest and the Labyrinth Opening on Saturday, March 19

A few months ago we mentioned that we are once again involved in Healesville Organic Farmer’s Market’s Autumnfest. This year’s event will be bigger than ever because it is combined with the opening of THE BRAND NEW Healesville labyrinth. For a peek at the concept plan see .

March 19 will be a huge day in Healesville because Healesville Music Festival is also being held on this day. Both events have free entry and we are hoping to have a shuttle bus available to ferry people between the venues.

There will be a variety of entertainment, informative displays, art and craft demonstrations and stalls selling good tucker for one and all from 9am through to 4pm.  Apart from an expanded organic produce market, there will be many other stalls selling/displaying eco friendly products and some that focus on domestic animals such as goats, pigs and chooks.

There will be plenty to learn about on the day: edible weeds, permaculture, local plants, heritage fruits, solar energy, bee keeping and more.

Days of Knights will dance, hold tug of war competitions and have craft activities children. Swords and chain mail will be on display in this interactive fun for kids of all ages.

The Chill out tent will provide a shady space to sit and connect with others. Songwriter’s and Poet’s Breakfast from 9am provides an opportunity for aspiring writers, poets and musicians to share their words with a supportive audience.

Performances include music composed for and inspired by the labyrinth, ZAAR tribal bellydancing and a mass choir performance.

Autumnfest is located outside the old Healesville Railway Station. Food stalls will include pizzas, barbequed free range pork sausages, and other delectable foods as well as chai tea, organic coffee, Mexican hot chocolate and more. Bring your friends and tell your neighbours. Come along, enjoy the festival, say hello to us and eat with your friends at the market.
PS: Photos were taken at previous Autumnfests
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