After waiting months, we finally completed our 2 day Introduction to Permaculture course in Alexandria on the weekend.
We’d originally been booked in to Ryde TAFE back in August for a comprehensive introductory course run over 9 weeks, half a day per week. Unfortunately the course never ran due to low numbers which was extremely disappointing as we’d heard lots about it from members of our local Permaculture group. More disappointing was recently learning that TAFE had canned the course altogether from apparent lack of interest.
One of the big problems with the TAFE system is that in order to cancel any course, they are required to give 10 days notice but as with many special interest short courses, most people decide to do them at the last minute. So often by the time they’ve made enquiries, the course has been cancelled. And rather than thinking laterally, some bureaucrat decides the easier way is just to can the course! Not to worry, the petitions are flowing think and fast so hopefully the TAFE course will be back on track before too long.
Anyway, after researching similar courses, and having been a follower of Milkwood Permaculture for some time, their introductory course and it’s inner city location seemed like a very good solution.
So what were we looking for in a course. Well we’re looking for ways to develop, nurture and grow our skills to help us attain our goal of living more sustainably, developing and increasing our backyard food production and embracing the spirit and connectedness of community.
The course was run by Nick Ritar who, alongside his wife are Milkwood Permaculture. They run and operate a small Permaculture farm business in rural Mudgee and run a range of unique and related Permaculture courses. Although Nick hasn’t been a practising Permaculturist for all of his life, he has an extensive knowledge base including a comprehensive grasp of Permaculture principles and provides many practical examples having applied them first hand on his own small working farm and organic market garden.
There were 24 participants from a wide ranging background and he managed to keep everyone engaged for the two very full days. While spending time on practical exercises, there was plenty of time to meet and exchange ideas and e-mails with other participants. As an introductory course, we covered in detail the ethics and principles of Permaculture as set out by David Holmgren, one of Permaculture’s originators.
As a diverse group, there was one common theme and that was that we all want to make a difference in the way we live. We want to value add to our lives by slowing down, we want to grow our own food and work co-operatively with other likeminded people to achieve great things. While most of realise that changing the world is out of our reach within this lifetime, we do believe that changing our own worlds, our own lives, and influencing those around us, we might just gather enough momentum to kick start a small wheel of change. And it’s already happening because there are so many people out there already using Permculture as a vehicle towards sustainability, they’re making a difference, people like you and I who are living normal day-to-day lives.
Once upon a time back in the 70’s when the concept of Permaculture was born, it was perceived to be just another hippy movement. But as was demonstrated at the course, the audience today is far wider and it’s great to see all sorts of people getting into this wonderful, cool thing called Permaculture.
And for us, finally after months of waiting patiently and working and discovering first hand in our own Permaculture garden, the course has helped us realise that we are definitely on the right track as we travel along our Permaculture journey.
Our beautiful garden is thriving, we’re providing a yield and learning heaps about growing healthy organic food. We’re also looking at problems and working through ways to solve them and learning from our mistakes. We’re being more objective, seeing positives and solutions where previously none existed. We’re planning and simplifying things so we can make our garden work better for us and make our lives more simple. We’re growing food we love to eat and eating food we love to grow and we’re learning how to bring it all together so we have a more reliable supply of food. We’re learning lots about making awesome soil, compost, worm castings and animal husbandry. We’re creating habitats, learning about natural pest control, managing our own on-site water and taking responsibility for our actions and choices. We’re re-learning homeskills making soap, bread, cleaning products and we’re learning about working together co-operatively, planning and to ensure we look objectively at our designs and systems. And we’re absolutely loving it.
Now all we have to do is convince others to join us in our quest so they too can share in the fun.
Thanks heaps Milkwood Permaculture for a fabulous, ideas packed, inspiring weekend and to all the wonderful like-minded people we met and shared a great weekend with.