July 2004 newsletter

We’re coming to you live from the Dead Sea Valley again, the site of lowest permaculture project on the planet and central to the Holy Lands of the Middle East.

After arriving back in Australia in February this year Geoff and Nadia were immediately engaged in the designing and directing permaculture earthworks at Clunes in Northern New South Wales just inland from Byron Bay. A complete design consultancy job for total life style self sufficiency comprising two dams three swales with a total length of over one kilometer, plus some driveway work and levels.

In March we taught our first permaculture design certificate course in Cooroy, Queensland at the same site and time as the permaculture national gathering, which ran simultaneously during the three days in the middle of the course. The course was a great success with the students getting a unique experience with the national gathering as a bonus. During the national gathering the annual general meeting of Permaculture International Limited was held and directors for the year were elected from the membership. Geoff was elected as one of the directors standing as a representative of the itinerant teachers of the seventy-two hour permaculture design certificate course. This is the original teaching system promoted by Bill Mollison and taught by all teachers registered by The Permaculture Institute. It is the original institute of permaculture where Tagari Publications distribute books and certificates.

In the following months Geoff and Nadia teamed up with Greg Hallet and Jane Oliver of Footprint Directions on many design consultancies. These were mainly very large project developments on the Gold Coast in the new professional consultancy arena created by the local governments stipulations for “environmentally sustainable design” criteria. These ESD criteria will be enforced through out Australia and around the world hopefully. This field of professional design consultancy is enjoying a rapid growth spurt in many parts of Australia and any permaculture design consultant with some degree of experience can easily facilitate such design requirements. One of our ongoing engagements involves the implementation of the Currumbin Valley Eco-village. A state of the art development specifying best practices for sustainable development and we will direct some of the initial earthworks early in December.

Working with the Footprint Directions team we were also involved in the designing of a boutique organic winery tourism development on the Gold Coast. This involved major earthworks with the directing of a large feature dam with very high quality design features. This included a canal, beach, jetty, recycled rebuilt railway bridge and three back flooded sandstone and river stone filled bays to be planted to exotic aquatic plants with reticulated water for biological cleaning initially passing the water over water falls or flow forms.

In July Geoff and Andrew Jones (PRI director) were contracted to co-teach a permaculture design course in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. This course was in conjunction with Tulane University taught to both university students and professors and facilitated the possibility for the permaculture design certificate course to be taught as part of the university curriculum. The course was taught using a computer projected mind mapping program created by Andrew and Geoff. This program allows text, graphics, photographs and website links to enhance the detail of the curriculum and cover the full spectrum of the chapters of “the permaculture designers manual” which was used as a text book reference. Due to the time required to issue Nadia a visa for the USA it became impossible for her to accompany Geoff. Therefore she stayed with Julia Harris (PRI director) on her large rural property in Western New South Wales. This was a very different experience for Nadia to be in such a large open country with such a small population.

At the beginning of August Nadia and Geoff teamed up with the Rainforest Information Center to teach a permaculture design certificate course at the community property Yalunga at Barkers Vale in Northern New South Wales. This was a unique course taught on site with a theme of community development with international, national, numerous locals and indigenous students. We intend to repeat this course on a yearly basis.

All surpluses to requirement profits from the course were jointly directed by RIC to one of their projects in Ecuador and PRI to our support of six of our most active permaculture home gardening ladies in Jordan.

With just AUD$1,500, we were able to purchase six sets of: –

  • 1 cubic meter water tanks, to be mounted on the roof of each house for gravity feed, mains water supply is only available twice a week for a few hours and ALL water needed has to be stored in tanks. Mounting the tanks on the rooves of the houses will give us enough gravity fall pressure to drip irrigate fruit trees, herb and vegetable gardens.
  • A small electric pump to pump the mains water when it is supplied up to the tank on the roof. This is needed as the mains water pressure is often not sufficient to lift the water to roof height.
  • 25m of good quality garden hose.
  • Wheelbarrow.
  • Secateurs of the VERY best quality available, Swiss-made Felco brand.
  • Pruning saw.
  • Shovel
  • Hoe.
  • Mattock.
  • Small half size mattock.
  • Pitchfork
  • Metal rake.
  • 10m by 2m of shade clothe. for raising seedlings.
  • 25m by 1.5m fine square mesh bird wire netting, for small animal housing
  • 25M by 1.5m chain link fencing wire for fencing small animal pens.
  • 5 fruit trees.
  • 40 varieties of .non hybrid heir loom vegetable seedlings.
  • Small compost worm farm.

The five women have agreed to care for and maintain the tools, plant the fruit trees, install the provided equipment, materials and to grow the vegetable seedlings with a main aim of saving extending and sharing the seed. We are hoping to extend the action of these 5 women to become a small NGO with the intention of raising funds to educate and demonstrate to other people in their region extending the of success locally. We intend to continue contributing to worthy ground-based actions such as this with every course we teach.

Just two days after finishing the Yalunga course, Geoff and Nadia were on route to Oaxaca in Southern Mexico to teach a PDC on a project site managed by PRI course graduate César López Negrete Baptista. The site was originally designed with a large initial input from Geoff with earthworks and suggested placements for structures. Many structures have been built for accommodation, classroom, kitchen, dinning room, tree nursery plus bathrooms and compost toilet blocks, irrigation systems, solar power electricity, satellite internet connection, thousands of trees and extensive vegetable gardens. View www.pacificos.com for more details. The course was attended by over fifty student half of them scholarships from communities all over Mexico. Daniel Jarremello from Columbia a PRI graduate attended the course and Cesar co-taught a large component.

The next day after finishing this course Geoff and Nadia flew to New Orleans to teach a second course at the same site in one year. Geoff and Andrew co-taught the course together again and further refined the computer mind mapping system. This course may well of anchored New Orleans as a long-term project location for PRI and permaculture courses and inter-action. Although in the middle of this course hurricane Ivan threatened devastation and the whole course evacuated with an estimated one million New Orleans residents, we still continued to teach and complete the course through to certification with a great end of course party.

After finishing this course Geoff and Nadia flew directly to Cairo, Egypt and out into the Sinai desert to teach the four consecutive PDC which Nadia taught in Arabic over half of the course and translated the rest of the time. Hosted by Phillip and Samia the owners of an organic tourist farm in development, growing large numbers of olive trees with mixtures of other fruits and support species and a large eco village in the initial stage of implementation. This extremely dry and windy side on the coast of the Gulf of Suez proved to be very interesting design exercise and many useful connections will make building on Phillip and Samia’s on site trials. Very promising connections were made with the local Bedouin people who are interested in developing sustainable systems on their large traditional land to help stabilise their culture and traditions. We are now in the process of helping them set up an NGO so that they can receive funding to further their cause.

After the Egypt course Geoff and Nadia flew in to Jordan to visit family and re-visit the Jordan permaculture sites. The ground based funding of the six ladies with tools and equipment for their permaculture home gardening activities. Also the process of setting up a permaculture NGO for Jordan have been investigated so that PRI can be directly involved in administrating its own Jordan project, hopefully.

The next Australian action will be a state of the art permaculture design certificate course from 22/11/04 to 3/12/04 in Brisbane. Geoff and Danial Lawton will be co-teaching as a father and son team at Griffith University in Brisbane in association with Griffith Organic Society. Geoff and Danial, using Mind Manager (a mind mapping computer program), have the whole course including every chapter of the Permaculture Designers Manual and every sub heading covered extensively. Including a large number of digital photograph slide shows, graphic illustrations and text will be projected on screen during lessons. This comes from a wealth of experience accumulated over 25 years and 20 countries. During the course there will be site visit to Northey Street City Farm in Brisbane. For details or contact Danial Lawton directly on [email protected].

Cheers from Jordan,

Geoff and Nadia!

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