Author Archive | megu

Land Cultures: shared knowledges

Bruce Pascoe and David Holmgren to meet and share knowledges

Award-winning Australian writer, editor and anthologist Bruce Pascoe is leading a movement of researchers that is rewriting Aboriginal history in Australia.

On Thursday April 7 2016 Pascoe will visit Daylesford for a series of free events including Land Cultures: Aboriginal economies and permaculture futures at the Daylesford Town Hall at 7.30pm – Bruce Pascoe in conversation with David Holmgren.

LandCultures_jpeg_lThe evening event will commence with a Dja Dja Wurrung smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country. A Hepburn Shire Council representative will present a progress report on the Shire’s recognition and reconciliation projects. Pascoe’s keynote address will be followed by a response from David Holmgren, before opening the discussion to the floor. Supper will be provided by Hepburn Relocalisation Network (for a gold coin donation).

Come and join the discussion and understand how the foods of Australia pre-1788 may become the foods of a climate-altered 21st century economy that acknowledge and celebrate the past. You can join the Facebook event here.

Other free events on the day include:

2pm tour of Dja Dja Wurrung tools at the Daylesford Museum.
3pm reading by Bruce of his young adult fiction at the Daylesford Library.
4pm planting of murnongs (yam daisies) at the Daylesford Library community garden.

All events are presented by the Hepburn Relocalisation Network with the generous assistance and funding of the Hepburn Shire Council.

* * *

Bruce Pascoe has a Bunurong and Tasmanian heritage. In his latest book, Dark Emu: black seeds, Pascoe shows that the Aboriginal history we were taught in school — that indigenous Australians were chancey hunter-gatherer nomads — is a fiction. Using point of contact journals by European explorers, Pascoe demonstrates the extent of the ecologically sensitive agricultural practices that existed in Australia pre-1788, and shows that Aboriginal Australians were possibly the world’s first bread makers, preceding the Egyptians by at least 18,000 years.


Busy lil bees

The quinoa is finally ready so Mitch and Sanami spend a morning harvesting. Mitch has spent much time in Japan since 2002 and is happy to be able to practice his Japanese, impressing all of us.

quinoa harvesting

Sanami is one of the MIAOWs (Melliodora Interns and Other Workers) currently working, learning and sharing with us. She has been in Australia for two months. Before Melliodora she was helping out at Birrith Birrith.

Sanami and Anna have been up to all kinds of wonderful mischief including cutting up the last of the apples to dehydrate in our fancy dehydrator ie. up on the roof.

apple dehydrating

Anna, also a MIAOW, has a PDC and has spent time at the Permaculture Research Institute. Anna used to work in Melbourne as a wind engineer where she designed wind farms and wind monitoring campaigns, but now likes to spend her time immersing herself in the sensuality of soil.


We have been harvesting the last of our corn this week. Drying some for seed and cooking

corn shucking

and blanching some before freezing it for use over the winter months.

corn blanching

We have successfully experimented cooking in a GoSun stove that was gifted to us.

solar cooking

solar cooker

We netted the fig trees, though sadly we lost kilos and kilos as it rained (hooray!) and the water penetrated them causing them to ferment on the trees. Fig chutney anyone?

fig nets

We encouraged people to boycott shopping at the supermarket by setting up our table of bulk food on the same day as people come by to collect their veggie boxes.

bulk food

And when we needed some quiet we sat down to the meditative task of separating grains, as a bag of flax seeds had been contaminated with wild oats.

quiet work

We had a meeting with Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam Grubb to discuss their exciting new project.

Annie and Meg

We started work on rebuilding a jetty for the dam.

building jetty

And before the cooler months start, we harvested the honey from the hives. 117kg so far from 7 hives.


su bees

anna david honey

sanami honey

That’s it from us for now. We hope all is deliciously sticky and sweet in your lives too.


Graduate Certificate in Permaculture Design

In Adelaide today, at Central Queensland University, students are making history as they begin a brand new course: A Graduate Certificate in Permaculture Design, the first university-accredited permaculture program in Australia.

On Friday last week, the Hon. Jay Weatherill MP, Premier of South Australia, and CQUniversity Appleton Institute Director and Engaged Research Chair Professor Drew Dawson, officially launched the program.

The Hon. Jay Weatherill MP

The Hon. Jay Weatherill MP

Based in Adelaide and available to students nationally and internationally, CQUniversity’s Graduate Certificate in Permaculture Design will give professionals the skills of truly sustainable design, and has the potential to revolutionise our transition towards a low-carbon future.

Guests mingling at the launch

Guests mingling at the launch

The event also recognised the work of permaculture co-creator Bill Mollison, with CQUniversity bestowing on him an Honorary Doctorate of Science.

Geoff Lawton (holding Mollison's Honorary Doctorate) and Keri Chiveralls.

Geoff Lawton (holding Mollison’s Honorary Doctorate) and Keri Chiveralls.

Skyping in from his home in Hepburn Springs, David Holmgren, who sits on the Advisory Committee, delivered the following address:

I’m not sure that I can live up to that introduction in a few minutes, but it is good to be able join permaculture colleagues, university staff and the South Australian premier at this launch, without the need to burn precious fossil fuels (and contribute to climate change).

I want to applaud the university in its timely award of the honorary doctorate to Bill Mollison and its role in the Garden of Earthly Delights project. Obviously I could say many things about Bill but just one might be appropriate. Beyond his co-conception of the permaculture concept is clearly, the father of the permaculture movement. His vision that a social movement, based on education through the Permaculture Design Course, was the best way to carry our original and evolving vision out into the world, has stood the test of time (despite my original skepticism.)

It is 16 years since I wrote the section on permaculture in the Alternative Ag unit in the first post grad diploma of Sustainable agriculture, at what was then Orange Agricultural college. That course was part of the wider adoption of permaculture in the late 1980s and early 90’s, that I have identified as the second wave. Of course, the first wave in the late 70s and early 80s, was associated with the energy crises and the huge interest in sustainable alternatives, at that time.

I see this CQU course breaking new ground in the spread and diversification of permaculture education, as part of long, slow third wave of permaculture design, activism and education that is building, not just in Australia but right around the world.

These waves have run counter cyclical to faith in mainstream values, governance and economics. These pulses of permaculture activism reflect a heritage of earlier waves of ecological sustainability innovation in the 1890s and 1930s that coincided with challenging times.

It is highly appropriate that of all the places in the world, this event is in Adelaide. While ups and downs of economic cycles and activist enthusiasm have been as big a factor here as anywhere, I think it is true to say that permaculture has played a consistent role over more than three decades in making Adelaide and South Australia, more innovative than its population size might suggest.

Grass roots household, community and small business activity have been the core of permaculture activism everywhere, but in SA there has also been a healthy interchange with those seeking better policies and institutional change from above. Many people and projects have contributed to that creative exchange but I want to make special mention of Graham and Annemarie Brookman from the Food Forest in Gawler for their tireless efforts in creating sustainable solutions that resonate for radical visionaries, the average punter and policy wonks alike. It is no accident that this course was conceived here in Adelaide, given that post graduate education in permaculture has been part of Graham Brookman’s vision for as long as I can remember.

As one cranky ecological pioneer to another, Brookman knows well my skepticism about University education but he did manage to persuade me to support this course as representing the best of university education. I also acknowledge that Keri Chiveralls infectious enthusiasm and dedication and Drew Dawson’s can do approach to working within institutional structures were influential.

As I concentrate on finishing my book Retrosuburbia: a downshifter’s guide to a resilient future, the world is moving, into what could be described as an economic, geopolitical and ecological convulsion. While most of the outcomes will be bad news, I trust that this course and my book will be part of a tsunami of permaculture positivity about how we can surf a prosperous way down.

More specifically I see huge opportunities for the household and community non monetary economies to grow and prosper to provide basic and even more sophisticated needs and in the process rebuild community spirit that will be so necessary to that prosperous way down.

If there is a simple message for anyone working top down, including the premier, it is to focus on reducing the regulatory and other impediments to flourishing household and community non monetary economies. This is an equally important task to, considering policies that support households and neighbourhoods to be more self-reliant and permaculturally productive.

I trust that one of the outcomes of this university program will be the ideas for the policy initiatives to help that vision unfold over the coming years and decades.




The home economy

Ta da! Kamut bread fresh out of the wood oven ready for lunch. We’re all starving today, having built up quite an appetite.

Su bread

We’ve been harvesting pears, nashis and apples and are now removing the nets from all the trees.

net removal

Above left is Taron. Taron’s been spending every Tuesday here at Melliodora since he was 4 years old. Don’t you wish that your parents had arranged such schooling for you when you were growing up? We look forward to watching him continue to mature into a wise, thoughtful, creative and healthful young man.


We’ve been marvelling at the colours of the quinoa plants, waiting for their leaves to drop so we can harvest the seeds. Did you know that you can eat the young leaves of the quinoa plant, too?


We’ve been tending to the seeds we planted a week ago, as they slowly and miraculously grow into our winter veggies. On this tray Mitch holds leek, cabbage, beetroot, cauliflower and broccoli.


We’ve been harvesting corn, which we are now drying to cook and make into tortillas, and to save as seed for next year.


And we’ve been having meetings with our accountant who assures us that our home economy is in great shape. David adds, “This home-based and community way of life with more exchange and less money is healthier and more fun at the same time in that it builds household resilience and community connection. The big surprise for some is that it might be the most effective political action we can take to create the world we want and stop supporting the world we don’t.” If you’re interested in reading more of David’s writings on the issue of the household economy you might be interested in his essay, Household economy counts, originally published in#123 of Arena magazine.


OK, let’s eat. Please, come and sit with us a while as we talk and gobble and share stories. There’s a spare plate next to me. Itadakimasu!




A day in the life

It’s been a big week at Melliodora.

We are still coming to terms with Venie’s passing. Kevin Childs, in The Local magazine, wrote a beautiful account of Venie’s funeral, which you can find on page three here.

Earlier this week we had two MIAOWs (Melliodora Interns and Other Workers) arrive. Brianna is an architect from Brazil who is passionate about permaculture. Before she arrived in Australia Brianna spent over a year volunteering in Asia.


Tom (who’s camera shy) is from Castlemaine. He has a PDC, and has experience gardening, and with chickens and goats. When asked why he wanted to come to Melliodora, Tom said that he wanted to understand the property, the way elements interact, and to immerse himself in functional design language. Welcome both!


When you call the HDS office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it’s highly likely that Meg will answer the tromboncino phone. Meg has worked here in the office before. It’s great to have you back as part of the team, Meg.


Our intern Mitch has been with us since September 2015. If you’d like to know more about what Melliodora interns do, have a read of the Melliodora Apprentice Journal. When Mitch isn’t working or updating his journal, he likes to play hide and seek. Here he is hiding in the corn while David tries to find him.



If you don’t already subscribe to Pip Magazine, we highly recommend you grab yourself a copy. Pip has plenty of goodness to offer in the way of vital food for thought. The latest issue, whose theme is inspired by Nick Rose’s book, Fair Food: Stories from a movement changing the world, brings together ‘a collection of ideas and stories about people working hard to create a Fair Food future’, writes editor Robyn Rosenfeldt.

The magazine has gathered a great collection of people who are showing fair and sane alternative ways to producing and acquiring food. Along with Penelope Dodd from ‘Produce to the People’ and Angelo Eliades from ‘Deep Green Permaculture’ Melliodora’s own local food advocate, Su Dennett is profiled. Su has been working at the Rocklyn Yoga Ashram this week where a PDC is taking place. We miss you here in the office, Su!


And here, quiet as a mouse deep in thought is David working on his upcoming book RetroSuburbia: a downshifter’s guide to a resilient future Due to be released later this year, the book highlights the ongoing and incremental changes we can make to our built, biological and behavioural landscapes as we collectively strive to rebuild our household economies.


That’s it from us here today. We hope your soils are rich and fertile and your larder filling up with bottles of summer loving.