An overview of the happenings and projects at our Sunshine Coast demonstration site.
by Zaia Kendall
The Vanuatu PDC students gathered around their 18 day hot compost
Tom was asked to teach a PDC for ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) in Vanuatu in May, which was a fantastic experience for him. He taught a class of 10 students — all local people that took their newly acquired knowledge back to their villages and local projects. Apparently from the feedback we have had so far, everyone who did the course are very inspired and have started implementing permaculture principles in their area!
Upon Tom’s return from Vanuatu we had a Earthworks / Water Management course here for a week. We brought in a heavy excavator to dig a swale to relieve the pressure on the existing large top swale on our property. With the last rains Tom noticed that the water in the existing swale, which handles our dam overflow, was close to breaching, so we needed an extension to that system. Unfortunately we had to dig through some regenerating forest on the other side of the dam, but the whole swale will be planted out with food forest species. Some ground cover has already been sown when it rained after the swale was dug, to get some growth happening there as soon as possible, with fruit trees and support species soon to come! This rapid planting out will prevent any erosion.
Measuring and indicating levels to the excavator operator
to create the swale on contour
Sowing support species and ground cover onto the swale mound
Immediately after the Earthworks course we did the second stage of our Biogas system. In that week we built the dome over the pit which was built in the first stage. Plywood boards supported the sand dome which was built on top, after which students and helpers applied concrete to create the dome. Then the gas connection was connected at the top. The next step will be to go in from underneath, break apart the plywood boards and remove the sand. In the next stage of the biogas system, we will add the input and output connections and possibly a toilet.
The finishing touches applied to the Biodigester dome
We now have a three week break before our next course starts, which does not mean that things will be quiet! We would like to build another toilet on the property in that time and we need to design and build a rocket stove in the teaching space for the comfort of our winter students. The next course will be a Permaculture Design Certificate course starting on 23 June. This is followed by a 10 week Permaculture Life Skills internship beginning 8 July, where interns will participate in projects like the ones above. We still have places available in the PDC and the Internship, if you are interested please contact us at info (at) permaculturesunshinecoast.org.