Solar Power! (albeit on a small scale)


Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a light! And it is bright! And it lets us read at night. Hooray!

Just for the record, we got all the bits for our little solar setup from The Solar Shop (ordered online), with minimum fuss and bother.

For the energy-techies out there, you’ll be pleased to know that our solar panel is of the amorphous type… lowest possible embodied energy panel on the market. And I think the whole setup cost us around the $350 AU mark… not bad for 15 years worth of light, no? How exciting to be able to read AND cook in the one space simultaneously….

How to: grow Figs from cuttings


As I think I’ve mentioned, this part of Australia is, although it doesn’t look it at first glance, a labyrinth of abandoned settler’s orchards. Every farm around here seems to have at least two of these gnarly fruit-thickets over in a back paddock somewheres. These old orchards are the only sign left of previous shacks and farmhouses which dotted the landscape here over a hundred years ago, during the gold-rush years.

The Power of Community: DVD Review

dvd coverYou would have to be living under a large, large rock to not have heard about the concept of Peak Oil. It's scary stuff – much debated by many, scoffed by some, acknowledged as a player on the field by all. Something's going on with the oil. Who can access it depends on who is friends with who this week, and it is something that all the major car companies are trying to prepare for (a sure sign that someone high up in their respective corporate structures is mighty tetchy about it). Down here at the 'little ol' me' level, the implications of this sort of change is… unsettling, to say the least.

I must admit I went through a little bit of a stage last year where I was feeling quite overwhelmed by the implications of energy descent, as it is sometimes called. We flapped about, trying to figure out what, if anything, we could do. Should we be trying to live in the city or the country? Was living in a densely populated suburb a potential asset or a disadvantage in the event of a sharp change, or even a slow change, in energy descent?

This documentary was one of the first examples I saw last year of how an urban population with a relatively high standard of living dealt with a sharp drop-off in energy (in this case oil) supply… and it was inspiring stuff. Enter the republic of Cuba, during the Special Period (that's the official term) in 1991…


Back from the Brink by Peter Andrews

'back from the brink' book coverOut in the rural areas of NSW (and probably in other states of Australia as well) this book has been causing a minor furore. Country town bookstores were selling out of all their copies in a day, everyone was talking about it, everyone wanted to read it, everyone was ordering in a copy for their father/wife/husband/themselves because the word on the street was that it contained mighty important information about how to drought-proof your land.

Upcoming: ITP courses are go!

urban community garden, vancouverJust a note that we  are rip-roaring ready to go on our 'Introduction to Permaculture' courses, which will be held in Sydney, Mudgee and Kiama before Christmas 2007.

We're both really looking forward to cutting our teeth on teaching sustainable system design and getting  whoever wants to learn worded up on the basics of Permaculture as it applies to the Australian environment.

The course also includes two days of great food and the inevitable sharing of information, making of connections, and the beginning of many conversations – all the good things in life, really…


How To: make a Feral Fruit Map

peachySelf seeded fruit trees in culverts, old orchards on abandoned sites, food trees hanging over the fence into the back laneway. It’s all what is known as ‘feral fruit’ and it’s one of the best, if unheralded, community resources an area has, whether you be in an inner-city suburb or out in the middle of nowhere.

A feral fruit map is a way of mapping the resources in your area, so that come late summer and autumn, many a happy weekend can be spent finding, picking and eating/processing the bounty of your local area. Free, local food. So good….

Milkwood: Arrival


Kirsten, Nick and Peow the cat leave their comfortable life in coffee-soaked Melbourne for an adventure in sustainability in the Great Dividing Range of NSW, Australia

Ta DAAAAAA – its our first video post. The idea is for these to appear weekly, and to cover all the bits and pieces involved with life at Milkwood. Be very keen to hear what y’all think – its our first foray into this type of thing…

Post-permaculture design course debrief

web of life exercise - a forest.. sortof.. I've spent the past week attempting to re-enter the world as i know it with a head chock-full of knowledge about permaculture. This has occurred following a two-week course (the Permaculture Design Certificate) at Aldinga Eco Village (well not actually IN Aldinga but at the caravan park nearby… long story) in South Australia.

The plan was that, since Nick is still working in his high office building until christmas, I would head off and do a PDC in order to get my head around Permaculture principles in readiness for our move…

I chose this particular course because it was being taught by Geoff Lawton , who, in addition to running the Permaculture Research Institute , is apparently the gun on arid and semi-arid environments, and how to get them regenerating in a matter of months. yup, months. I was ready to learn that trick….