THE PEOPLE’S GARDEN PROJECT
Proudly Sponsored by
The Project Explained
The People’s Garden is a project undertaken to develop an education in permaculture for the community and create a garden area for social, ecological, environmental and food source sustainability. We want to bring together people of like minds to network in a spirit of community while creating a community asset for all people to utilise.
We want the program to benefit, the community as a whole, the environment of the region, as well as adding a food source to homes and areas of residential settlement. In addition we believe the whole program will act as an education for all ages.
The Method used to produce this result will be to conduct permaculture classes using experiential techniques in the garden under a structured four phase plan facilitated by experts and to use the existing garden area to create a finished product over a 12 month period – Summer 2018 | Winter 2018 | Autumn 2018 |
Students gather to listen to Facilitator David Lewis at Week One of the course
Students rotate working tasks as they commence the construction of the first composting beds.
How it all works
The first semester contains 7 modules and lasts over 21 sessions. Courses are held at The People Place on Thursday twilight commencing at 4.30pm and finishing at 7pm. Participants at the first two sessions enjoyed the facilitation which is conducted in the garden using practical applications of permaculture. Participants are involved in creating the garden under supervised expertise provided by the EYC Academy and EYC Labs.
Experiential learning is applied by involving students in actually doing parts of the tasks, thus helping them learn while building a garden which can be used by the community
Weeks One & Two
After just two sessions our team has already made an impact, creating the garden’s compost bins ready for mixing our ‘special brew’ Great work team – it’s all beginning and we’re pretty excited.
Weeks Three & Four
Compositing? What a complex issue. Getting the mix of Carbon & Nitrogen is vital and as we’ve now learned there’s an art to it all. The team needed as much information as possible and by experimentation and looking at results from previous weeks we’ve final started to get the right result. It’s a matter of getting the mixture right while adding plant material, saw dust, newspaper, straw and an abundance of food scraps. Along with all this we added Comfrey leaves.
Comfrey has been cultivated and valued by many cultures for almost 2500 years. Today it is still valued for its use in salves and other topical skin preparations and as a fertiliser. Adding leaves of the Comfrey plant to a compost heap gives the compost added nitrogen, resulting in increased microbial decomposition of the compost.
Comfrey (Symphytum spp.)
Week Five was all about soil and if you thought for one minute you knew something about this magic stuff you, like most of our participants soon found out how wrong we were.
Within half an hour we soon discovered that soil plays a vital role not just in growing but in our lives, affecting water, root growth and importantly impacting on our atmosphere. It became even more interesting when we ventured into our garden to commence the creation of our orchard.
Preparing the soil the boys from EYC Labs. demonstrated how to make the perfect soil composition by the addition of minerals, clay and a myriad of natural materials. This perfect mix allows for the correct drainage and soil types which assist in healthy plant growth.
The enthusiastic crew started the arduous process of digging and separating as the orchard’s soil not only changed composition in looks, but appeared to offer an easy root transition for the development of our new trees.
Weeks Six & Seven
Fruit trees and worm farms? Oh yes we all became pretty excited when they said fruit trees because we knew it was time to plant the orchard. We’ve been busily preparing compost, treating the soil and getting the right balance.
Now it was time for the tree’s and we could start to see thing growing. It was all hands on deck and we’ve got some very willing workers. Peaches, plums pears in fact a little of everything built on permaculture principles to produce a lot. All on dwarf root stock they’ll help educate, feed and create a circular system, which feeds the earth and helps add give us humans the nutrition we need.
Week seven saw us creating a worm farm and we soon learned the value of worms and benefits they bring. An old bathtub with a strong wooden frame acted as a home but the most interesting thing of all was the care and attention our ‘red wrigglers’ require to ensure the reproduce and keeping giving us the worm juice and casting to keep the soil alive and well.
Week Eight & Nine
We’ve really moved ahead in weeks eight and nine. We’ve put the finishing touches to the orchard with the planting of citrus and a peach tree which is dedicated to Dawn Robinson who passed away some nine months ago and because other members of our permaculture family have a desire to plant trees in memory of loved ones passed, we’ve decided to erect a special memorial placard to honour those who have dedicated trees in memoriam.
Beside finishing the orchard, we began our chicken coupe construction and boy have we created a mansion for three beautiful chickens. Everyone helped and while the boys sorted out the construction the ladies cultivated and painted to ensure we are maintaining our compost heaps, our worm farm and getting the best out of the orchard’s soil.
Time Line Progression
Week Ten saw the completion of module two and so far we’ve created a brilliant compost heap which is starting to supply us with the most delicious composting material, we’ve planted out our orchard area, but not before we’ve reinvigorated the soil. We’ve created a large worm farm, built and stocked the ‘Boulevard Hotel for Chickens’ and created an espalier rack for our citrus fruit. So now were really into the swing and with new sponsor ‘Puma Energy’ on board we can make headway with our material purchases.
Week eleven was dedicated to the creation of the hugelkultur mound. It’s a german word and it’s the process of making raised garden beds filled with rotten wood. This makes for raised garden beds loaded with organic material, nutrients, air pockets for the roots of what you plant, etc. As the years pass, the deep soil of the raised garden bed becomes incredibly rich and loaded with soil life. As the wood shrinks, it makes more tiny air pockets – so the hugelkultur becomes sort of self tilling. The first few years, the composting process will slightly warm the soil giving a slightly longer growing season. The woody matter helps to keep nutrient excess from passing into the ground water – and then re-feeding that to the garden plants later. Plus, by holding so much water, hugelkultur could be part of a system for growing garden crops in the desert with no irrigation.
The crew digs the hugelkultur mound. It’s hard work digging but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating when we’ve planted sweet potato and leeks
With the hugelkultur mound construction completed, three important tasks remain before we turn our hand to the wicker bed construction. Our first task was to construct the medicinal beds using sleepers to build our boundaries followed by rejuvenating the soil in the bed to ensure maximum growth potential. While all this was happening some of the crew planted out the hugelkultur mound with sweet potato, leeks and the appropriate companion plantings to ensure our bed is as bug friendly as we can make it. Concurrently one of our crew’s youngsters was cleaning out the chicken mansion and refurbishing the ground with fresh straw. What a great little worker she turned out to be and when she was finished the crew help to wheelbarrow the old straw to the compost heap. Nothing is wasted in the world of permaculture.
Thirteen may be unlucky for some but this week’s segment was a beauty. Rod from Geographe Community Landcare Nursery was a guest speaker and what he doesn’t know about our local plants is not worth knowing. After introductions, Rob showed us a variety of local plants, which are significant in their use by our Aboriginal friends. We acknowledged the local owners of the land and Rod laid out our Traditional Use Garden area and as he did so explained all the facets and uses for these wonderful native plantings. Some of these included The Blueberry Lilly (Dianella brevicaulis) as an edible fruit. Flavourings such as the Coastal Daisy Bush (Olearia axillaris) and the WA Peppermint (Agonis flexuosa). Edible seeds such as the Dune Moss (Acacia lasiocarpa). The whole night was pretty much summed up by planting up the bed and returning to a warm room to enjoy a meal of curry kindly provided by Lyndsay from EYC Labs. Perhaps Julie Howes summed it up best the next morning when she wrote on the group facebook page:
“What an amazing night! Just love Thursday evenings. Learning, planting, learning, eating, learning, friendship, swapping, sharing, good times! :-)”
The Blueberry Lilly (Dianella brevicaulis)
The crew watches on as Lewis demonstrates the making of a raised bed. It’s sturdy timber and Jarrah makes such a pleasing sight. The final outcome for the night? Two sturdy raised beds ready for soil and plants.These solid raised beds will host a variety of vegetables ready to feed the visitors who come to the garden. It’s hard work but very satisfying and while the boys get stuck in with the heavy work the rest of the gang clean out the chicken hotel and turn the compost ready for use in the raised beds. Next week it’s the wicking beds and we’ll all be into that again.
Special thanks to Kaye for the goodies and especially for her curry. She grows the most orange coloured pumpkin in the land.
Brent and his wife from Landsave Organics
Before we began these weeks we welcomed Brent form Landsave Organics who gave a revolutionary account of his work with composting. We learned the value of microbes and fungi and how small amounts of compost can be added to large amounts of sand and soils material to create a disease free and potent soil which can change the composition of things and make a weed free garden. Brent’s company donated a quantity of his special brew of compost and became a partner in our permaculture project. Exciting and passionate Brent inspired us all to continue our work in saving our earth
It was also more hard work for the team on week 16 as the raised beds needed filling and we all wanted to get the right combination of soil into the beds so a to grow the best vegetables in the City. Finishing the second raised bed was a priority and with all the muscle boys digging out play equipment in the sand area it meant the ladies were left to shift metres of sand, wood chips and adding Brents special brew compost into the beds – no easy task.
EYC Labs David Lewis loads up the special compost mix
Tonight we prepared & planted out our new Jarrah raised beds with rocket, spinach, kale, other brassicas such as cauliflower & broccoli. keeping companionship in mind we also planted out marigolds, basil & chives. Once planted we mulched the top with lucerene hay & inoculated the beds with beneficial microbes using organic seaweed extract & worm tea..
As the nights close in it becomes more difficult to get the garden work completed, but the team continues on and with the aid of some lights we keep on getting things done. Planting out our raised beds with veggies was an interesting exercise especially in the beds of raw sand and inoculating a small amount of ‘Landsave Organics’ special compost. Layers of sand, compost, wood chips and straw are the major components and we’ll be watching closely as we see the soil enriched by microbes and fungi.
Lindsay gave his first health presentation in which he emphasised the importance of optimising hydration routines. Students were issued with homework, to consume lemon & salt water first thing upon waking, they would then report back their experiences to the group so we can all learn more.
This week we are lucky enough to be joined by Dave from South West Organic Seedlings – The weather outside was viscous, which mean’t all outside work was impossible. In the warmth of the People Place we had an open panel discussion & informal presentation about Organic Seedling production vs commercial seedling production, seedling resilience, the nutrition of organic foods and how we can best make changes beginning at the grassroots level using organic gardening methods. While we nourished our minds, we nourished ourselves on some delicious pizza prepared by the wonderful Suzanne, another great week in the People’s Garden, despite the weather.
As our photographer Jack soon discovered it was bitterly cold, windy and bleak. Not a night for man or beast.
A fantastic evening saw us host Dave from South West Organic Seedlings. Dave and his family have been instrumental in the beginning of this project donating a large part of our seedlings planted in the hugel mound. As the weather was again cold and rainy we had a fantastic resource share and discussion inside The People Place. Dave shared the books and resources that helped him begin his journey into horticulture. The team enjoyed his extensive knowledge on plant species, organic seeds and seedlings, diet and much much more.
This week took us to on a field trip to one of our beloved students home. Kaye took us on a tour of her large, beautiful property on acreage in Vasse. We had the privilege to view her expansive garden, including fantastic chook housing, very permaculture vegetable garden beds and picture evidence of just how much work had actually be done over the years, leaving us impressed at how much progression had taken place. Following our tour we enjoyed a wonderful home cooked meal including curried eggs from our chickens (Thanks Pam)
Week Twenty One
This Thursday night we were host to Permaculture Designer, Wink Lindsay. Wink has been experimenting with a vast number of gardening techniques for many years and was happy to share her experience on all the do’s and dont’s of design, planning, planting and eventually eating. Wink was wonderful enough to donate some plants and the evening began with an outside planting of the new bed around our big Peppermint Tree, before moving inside to the warm and finishing with discussion and Q & A.
Week Twenty Two
Here in the People’s garden we’re back into construction. We’re reaching for the floodlights extra early as it’s the shortest day of the year and the last day of the winter solstice. Tonight Students learned about the multiple functions chickens can provide in a Permaculture system, our remaining Chokos ‘Sechium edule’ were planted on the orchard perimeter and the crew set about building out Kikuyu barrier around the Hugelkultur mound.
Up cycled bricks have been used around the perimeter of not only the mound but the fruit trees in the orchard also, providing protection for the fragile roots when our hungry chickens get a little too excited.
Once we completed our works around the garden, including the framework for our new chicken tractor, we headed inside to learn some of the practical applications chicken tractors can provide, as well as their ability to be up sized for use in large scale regeneration cases, as demonstrated by permaculture guru Geoff Lawton.
Laughs were shared in abundance and something special continues to simmer here in the People’s garden, a journey which is turning out to be about much more than just gardening & is showcasing the multiplicity of positive potential Permaculture offers the community.
The Making of a Hugelkultur Mound.
We been asked many times to explain what a Hugelkultur Mound is and how to make one. so here’s our explanation followed by a pictorial of how we developed one in our own garden.
A hugelkultur system is an excellent way to harvest and recycle any woody materials and organic debris around the garden. This method allows you to clean up any piles in the yard while building soil fertility, improving drainage, and enhancing moisture retention. Hugelkulture garden beds also tend to be warmer than even raised beds for early crop starting.
A hugelkulture bed is a traditional eastern European gardening method that starts out with a pile of logs and branches. Layered garden beds are nothing new. Lasagna or sheet gardening is an element of landscaping where you flip your sod and layer it with newspaper, cardboard, straw or other carbon materials and then soil. The resulting layers compost quickly and add tilth and nutrients to the soil. Hugelkultur garden beds have much the same purpose. Instead of sod, however, these rely upon a basis of logs and branches. Then you just tuck in other organic biomass and top with soil and/or straw. The name hugekulture literally means “mound culture.” It is a useful practice on woody land where there is plenty of detritus from fallen trees and branches. In essence, a hugelkulture system is basically buried logs. The logs and branches become spongy as they decompose and soak up massive quantities of water. This means that after a year or so, you hardly have to water a hugelkulture bed at all. The layering of other organic compounds such as kitchen scraps, manure, newspaper or straw, enhances the nutrient composition of the bed. In side by side tests, the hugelkulture bed produced more and larger vegetable plants than a traditional raised bed. This is due to the water storing abilities of the log dome and the rich nutrients and higher heat of the soil.
Our thanks to Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist for her great explanation
The logs are cut to fit the mound
The crew starts the dig up by making the circle.
The sods get put aside neatly – we’ll need them.
The soil looks OK but it’s going to be even better.
Getting deeper and its time to add the branches and logs
After we’ve backfilled the hole, returning the sods to the earth upside down, we start to plant
Three weeks later the crop appears. Sweet potato, various lettuce and leeks.
A cross section of a mound showing how the logs soak up water and rot down to add carbon and retaining moister.
Week Twenty Three
Things are moving swiftly as we head for the dead of winter. Boxing of the big peppermint tree was a priority. We want to get more vegges into the ground and building up the soil to plant some of our lesser know veggies and salad plants means we have to raise the heights of the bed. Jarrah creates a great finish and it’s solid as a rock. Watch it turn grey as the summer comes.
Week Twenty Four
We’ve brought in the big guns this week as we move the sand in the old children’s play area. We move the top soil which contains all our composted material and lay it into the areas which will be our major beds. We’re also shaping the pathways and paving areas using the boys from Total Horticulture. They’re a great mob, very professional – we recommend them to anyone who wants a great job.
As the pathways are planned and shaped our facilitator David shows the team the traffic flow and the ease of access has been designed. Everything has been thought out and the whole garden is starting to blossom into an example of how to create permaculture at its best.
The access team looks on and we begin to see the shape of things to come. It’s so vital to plan the garden for visitation as we expect many visitors over future years. It’s a challenging time as the night falls early and the cold, wind and rain slow us down. But nothings to much of a challenge for these guys.
Week Twenty Five
It’s time to give the worms a roof and while the rest of the team start the maintenance work the boys get stuck in and create the frame and the fabric to create a roof for the worm farm. Its also time to harvest the crop slowly but surely and we feast on the homegrown varieties of lettuces with our meal. Earlier in the day the heavy weights move in again moving some of the stone blocks to form the entrances to the soft gym area.
Week Twenty Six
It’s cold and damp but that doesn’t stop this band of passionate doers whose whole mission is to change the garden into something special. The first brick pathways are in and this allows us to work at giving the orchard more aerial protection – later in the summer the bird netting will go on to protect our fruit from the birds- and despite the darkness setting in and the help of a small portable light, our rustic Orchard sign gets a professional look thanks to the artistic talents of a dedicated team
Everything we do is organic and the raised veggie beds are already producing insect free produce. What a great team we have – if you love the planet and you want a garden that’s earth friendly, producing like you’ve never seen before why not join us.
Week Twenty Seven
More than just egg layers, our birds have a job to do to help us fix the soil. So we’ve created our own little chicken tractor which will slide along our raised beds after harvest. The chucks get the left overs and any grubs that might just have sneaked in, while manuring and aerate the soil. We tested the little blighter on the lawn and it worked a treat. We only keep them there for a while but they’ll enjoy the outing and do their job.