View Full Version : The long journey begins - again!
20-02-2011, 09:33 AM
My name is Adie (Cobby) and I live in South East Queensland on the west side of Ipswich.
I was a member of the Lockyer Valley Permaculture Group about a decade ago, until they disbanded. I've always been interested in it, I grew up in the Kosciusko National Park, in a Ranger's Village, and my mother grew alot of our food, although I never showed any interest then!
Family, work, life, got in the way and it's taken me 'til now to come full circle back to Permaculture and what drew me to it in the first place. A year ago I was terribly overweight and at my wit's end. I did not know HOW I was going to get healthy. A friend mentioned the liver detox diet, so I went on the internet and found Raw food. I 'went raw' the next day and have been high raw ever since.
23 kilos lighter and it's amazing how important your veggies and fruit become when they are pretty much ALL you eat! Shortly after starting to eat raw I put in a small garden. I'm getting small yields but honestly have NO idea what I'm doing! Most of my lettuce bolts and my sweet little Chia seedling has turned into a monster, :blush:!
SO! Back to the books and Permaculture. I discovered Transition Towns at an 'Awakening the Dreamer' Movie night at our nearest (40 mins drive!) Organic food shop, and found a newly emerging chapter in Ipswich. They've just got a community garden off the ground - with a PDC consultant having made a plan - we've been to a meeting and have committed to going for a few hours every Friday to help out.
MANY challenges there - they were inundated 3/4 of the way up the garden in the floods in January, and the locals have 'appropriated' the first of the citrus trees already! (It's a pretty poor area and it's going to be a battle to get them engaged and interested, rather than thinking of larceny!) Any ideas?
25-02-2011, 09:02 PM
Had our first working bee today at the Community Garden. Got the compost bins moved closer to the entrance where it is more accessible for cars with mulch to dump. Weeded and mulched all the garden beds and found two wonderful big legless lizards living in the mulch bins! One would have been nearly 2 foot long and the most gorgeous yellowy colour. The other was smaller and a silver colour. We put them in the mulched gardens.
Next we plan to get one of my neighbours with a bobcat to put in swales to slow the movement of water down the block (it slopes at about 10%) and is North East facing.
27-02-2011, 04:03 PM
Welcome (belatedly) to the PRI Forum.
Concerning how to 'get them engaged and interested'. This is a huge topic that you have decided to open with, but one that is of the utmost importance to the 'success' of any permaculture project. To this end, I offer a few simple 'ideas':
Every community holds a certain number of people that without their help, nothing will ever be achieved. These people - the text books describe them variously, but I call them the 'movers and shakers' - hold the 'key' to your project's success. First of all, you need to find these people. This is not an easy task. They are generally pretty quiet, reserved types, who hardly ever gain the recognition they deserve, but then again, they would not have it any other way. Never-the-less, they do exist, and Ipswich is not such a big place that they can remain invisible. Try asking about them at the local volunteer coordination agency. Ask the agency coordinator a direct question, something like, "Who are the truly influential members of this community?". If the coordinator knows their stuff, they should be able to give you the names of the people you are looking for. Another place to look for them (or at least to find out about them) is at the 'local'. Pick your time (early afternoons seem to work well), and approach the subject 'softly softly', as nobody likes a 'nosey parker'. Buy yourself a drink (you may even offer to shout the barkeep one, or the 'old bloke' down the other end of the bar), sit down, and wait for someone to ask you what you are up. Don't worry, it will happen. When it does, explain very succinctly (but accurately) what it is that you are trying to achieve, and who it is that you need to 'get on board' in order for it to be a success. If the barkeep knows their stuff (the 'old bloke' is almost a given), they will give you some names, too. Continue about town on your 'movers and shakers-finding' mission. Approach local residents, store keepers, etc., anyone who has been in town for a few years and ask them the same question: "Who are the most influential people in this town?". Generally speaking, people will give honest answers. If you 'play your cards right', you might even score an invitation to meet the 'mover/s and shaker/s'. The more people you ask, the more names you will get, but you will notice a pattern emerging. One, two, maybe even three names will factor large in your list, and these are the people that you must eventually meet. Time is of the essence, here. You cannot rush this very early part of the engagement process. People need to know that you are 'genuine' and this may mean that you have to have one or two drinks more than you usually would at the local :). However, once you find the 'movers and shakers', you are half way toward implementing a successful engagement process. But remember that it is a process, and one that needs to be planned very carefully. Get to know your community, before you unleash yourself upon them :). When you do get to meet with them, the 'movers and shakers' that is, they will know who has been 'appropriating' your citrus trees, and they will more than likely know how you can get these people 'engaged and interested'. Community engagement takes time, patience, and a willingness to show a genuine commitment. We humans are creatures of habit; we like continuity. Turn up each week, and you will get there in the end. Nice to know that you are working at the local, bioregional level.
Center for Rural Affairs (2010) Planting a Community Garden Builds Relationships (http://www.cfra.org/newsletter/2010/07/planting-community-garden-builds-relationships)
Cheerio, for now, Markos
27-02-2011, 05:32 PM
Thanks for that in-depth reply Markos!
Not sure if I'd be much good at the pub thing - I don't drink and they mostly half scare me to death, lol! But as to the other suggestions, for sure! We've got a new bloke that started with us whom is 1/2 way through his (online) PDC and he'd be great for that sort of thing. I'm more the 'turn up each week and muck in' type! BUT I've been in this area for 12 years and have a pretty good network of horsey friends that can supply all the mouldy hay, straw and manure that we'd ever need. Also know every back road, every tip, every 2nd hand store and all the ways to do things on the cheap, thanks to owning 1/2 dozen horses that keep us poor! I'll check out the link, thanks!
27-02-2011, 11:35 PM
Welcome aboard Cobby
28-02-2011, 07:08 AM
28-02-2011, 09:10 AM
Cobby - Can you provide the link for a online PDC Course please?
28-02-2011, 08:00 PM
I was just told the website - thinking of doing it myself as soon as I can afford it! (It's apparently a good price.)
04-03-2011, 03:24 PM
Ok, had another meeting at the community garden today (somewhat washed out!) and the original PDC'er that did our design has kinda resigned and handed it all over to the PDC'er that is halfway through his online course. That's find and all, but the original design had swales down the slope as here in SE Qld when it rains it POURS and we often get the water sheeting down the hill. The new guy isn't that interested in swales (doesn't really get them) and I was wondering if we should still keep them, or not worry about them. The gardens on the site so far are in raised beds a foot high and about 2meters square. (A bugger to get to the middle of!) Treated pine too, which I dislike. The beds (6 so far I think) are at a 90% angle to the slope. The new guy is hoping that the beds will stop and absorb most of the sheeting rain. I doubt it, I think the water will just split and flow down either side. Of course some will, but we will still lose too much.
Can anyone explain why it would be better to put swales in, and how many, how long, and where? Or if not, then why not?
05-03-2011, 08:42 PM
The best place to store water is in your soil. Not a tank or dam. Swales are designed to help the water get into your soil by slowing it down so it has time to soak in. You are right that the water will hit the hard object and then tear straight down the paths between the beds stripping away whatever you have on the path and creating an erosion gully.
Sorry I can't help with the how many, how long and where questions.
Is there someone else that you can approach to help with the design? Maybe you could offer up the details of your place to someone who runs a PDC to use as a design project for the course and see what a group of students come up with under supervision. That way they'd get a real project to design and you'd get a free design.
05-03-2011, 09:46 PM
I'm sure I saw on one of Bill Mollison's Youtube vids where he said 3 metres apart - did anyone else catch that? And I thought I could make one of those triangle thingies with the plumb bob in the middle to do the contours and then the swales... but obviously I need the support of the rest of the group, especially the new guy.
As to approaching someone else, I do like the idea of getting my home done that way - what fun! The original design for the community garden was the 'project' for the lady when she did her PDC. Would be nice to stick to that, but the new guy has other ideas. Maybe also get the community garden designed, from students, as you suggest.
05-03-2011, 10:02 PM
I think that like most things in permaculture the answer is - it depends. On your rainfall, your soil type, the slope and so on. It is more complicated than just saying x number of metres suits all.
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