Posts from the ‘Community’ category

Interview with Rosemary Morrow

A permaculturist since the 80’s, Rosemary Morrow is based in the Blue Mountains (NSW) and is internationally renowned for her top notch design skills, her ground breaking teaching techniques and her commitment to working with, and for, people who need it most. She tirelessly works across the world including East Timor, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Europe, Solomon Islands, Africa, Vietnam and more. She ooozes integrity, is one of the most down to earth people you’ll come across and is surprisingly short. But don’t’ let this little pocket rocket deceive you, she achieves more in a morning than most and baffles and inspires me with her stamina, enthusiasm and strong character.
Rosemary is the lead teacher on our upcoming Permaculture Design Course this April 3rd-18th, so we thought we’d introduce you to her so you can get a good sense of this dynamic, talented woman.

How long have you been a permaculturalist?

Well I started looking in 1978 and then I did my PDC with Robin Francis in 1986 and so from those times.   Perhaps I was a ‘natural’ in a sense because consumption and materialism has always been a bit dubious for me.  It is never, ever boring.  The world simply goes on fascinating and intriguing me, with its possibilities from a design view point.

What does permaculture mean to you and you life?

I think this was succinctly put by Bill Mollison (co-founder of permaculture) when he said:  Permaculture enables what is morally required and scientifically necessary. So for me, a scientist with moral learnings and wanting to be part of the solution and stop being part of the problem, permaculture through its principles and strategies meant that I didn’t have to do my own research, nor put together my own framework. It fell into place and gave my life foundations and meaning. I love living permaculture because the techniques are not always evident and so there is always room for creative personal response.


RosemaryMorrow-teaching-e1377107951274How can permaculture help shape a more healthy, sustainable and just world?

Permaculture is about designing strategies for the world that are based on caring for the earth, caring for people and caring for future generations. Within a framework of ethics and principles inspired by nature and by the best that previous cultures had to offer, permaculture offers much toward shaping a more healthy, sustainable and just world.

The way permaculture is taught, and has spread from the grassroots up, has meant that permaculture ideas have spread rapidly around the world, particularly in those places that need it most.
We are presently going through an explosion of permaculture into minds and disciplines more diverse that I think David or Bill ever expected.  For example, my colleague, Lis Bastian, lectures in environmental management for a Bachelors Degree in the international hospitality industry, and permaculture is included in the text for that course. Her students come from over 40 nationalities and will spread these ideas through an industry that is the largest employer in the world.  So you can imagine what will happen to the health of the world when these young students graduate.

Is permaculture relevant to people who live in the rural AND urban environments?

I wasn’t sure about urban conglomerations until I saw Hong Kong and met with local permaculturists with their myriads to ideas, techniques, and determination.  The whole of the Hong Kong Botanic Gardens and offices are permaculturally designed.  And for rural environments, permaculture will rehabilitate all lands.  I can’t think of anything else that will.  However permaculture does need to improve its content for coastal areas under threat from climate change and rising seas, something I’m working on now.

What type of people would find permaculture useful to integrate into their lives?

It is harder to think whether there are any people who would not find permaculture useful. From premiers and kings, men and women in prisons and in every situation people are always better off adopting permaculture into their lives. Whether its cutting bills for energy, and growing food to running community gardens and local banking – it touches all areas of human lives.


What projects are you working on at the moment?

The two most exciting ones are:

1) fortnightly Skype sessions with young Afghanis who are peace volunteers and want permaculture for when peace comes.  They are funny and committed and hugely keen to learn.  And yet, we tremble when we read of the escalating numbers of civilians dying in Afghanistan and we worry about when and how a just peace can be brought about.
2) more challenging  terms of the environment for a small lagoon community in the Solomon Islands which offers a model of how permaculture can respond to vulnerable villages who may not get access to higher land.   It is testing and fascinating. And we cannot go quickly!   The answers may not lie in land solutions, rather in finding ethical incomes for the villagers. You can follow these two projects (and more) through Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute.
Rosemary-MorrowAnd it is time for me to put nearly 40 years of full-time permaculture projects – failures and successes up on the web for everyone to read. When I think back about outcomes from Vietnam, Cambodia, Albania, East Timor and so on, it is apparent that permaculture has so much to contribute and I’d like people not to have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ by learning from my experiences.

I also do Skype sessions with Miami, Chile, Argentina and so on.  Plus I have a commitment of some degree to the youth of southern Europe with their huge unemployment and so I’ve worked there for the past two years or so and now I am lucky to be invited to work in Greece in a very economically depressed community. The organiser is a brilliant young Greek-Australian permaculturists who has returned to Greece to be part of their future.

Rosemary is the lead teacher on our upcoming Permaculture Design Course taking place in southern Tasmania from the 3rd – 18th April. You can understand why we’re excited to have her, it’s going to be a pretty special course with Rosemary at the helm – why not join us! Click here for more information and to register.

**You can follow Rosemary’s work through the Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute, NSW.


Real Skills for Growing Food

We’ve just wrapped up a very full and incredibly inspiring weekend with some fine folk at our inaugural Real Skills for Growing Food workshop. We’ve been dreaming up this workshop for quite a while, as we wanted to offer a consolidated learning experience to take people through the foundations of how to grow good food in their own homes. We also wanted to make sure it was free of any powerpoint presentations and full of hands on learning through doing – which we definitely succeeded in – so much doing! We’ve come away feeling invigorated and with full hearts…. And dirty hands, of course.

Here’s a glorious photo journey of the weekend, everything from propagation, crop planing, bioinstensive gardening, no-dig gardens, composting, soil health and so much more….

IMG_1562Learning beneath a giant walnut tree -one of the best classrooms ever

IMG_1564Making seed raising mix

IMG_1571Sewing seeds



IMG_1578Making rooting hormone from fresh tips off a willow tree

IMG_1596Which looks like this when finished – simply dip in your cuttings to give them a significant boost in the growth department

IMG_1587Toby, one of the loveliest dogs ever, graced us with her presence

IMG_1589“Pricking out” seedlings  IMG_1608  Crop planning – aka stretching our brains

IMG_1610Making no-dig gardens

_DSF4995Enjoying each other’s company. Day2: Getting ready for another 6 hours of greatness with Suzi (second from right) in her market garden (below). Photo credit, Rob Walls

_DSF5011Photo credit, Rob Walls _DSF5036Photo credit, Rob Walls

IMG_1615Sheet mulching/composting grassy areas, reclaiming them for garden beds

_DSF4994-2Making hot compost: Photo credit, Rob Walls 


Here’s to getting your hands dirty, learning heaps of USEFUL skills which will stay with you for the rest of your life and engaging with where our food comes from. We’ll be having another Real Skills for Growing Food workshop next year which you can read about and register for here.

A big thanks to all the wonderful students who came along to this workshop – you are all SO full of life and passion – we loved meeting and working with you. Till next time!


Making Steep Banks Stable, Productive & Beautiful (Cheaply)

On the weekend just gone, we had a mini working bee with some good mates, i.e 3 hours of power followed by lunch and beers. The mission for the morning was to convert our very bedraggled looking front, steep bank into the startings of a bee paradise garden.  This is our second attempt at this bank – the first one was going really well, until we accidentally set it on fire from a spark from the angle grinder – woops. That was a few months ago and as you can see below it was more than ready for some loving.

IMG_1488The vision for this bank is to be a perennial bee fodder and beneficial insect garden. The idea is that we never have to try and access this bank as it’s actually capping off a significant pile of rubbish which the previous owners buried there when they gutted the house.  Parts of the bank are full of old couches, bed springs, lino and lots of random wire and sharp things. Basically we don’t want to touch it as it’s a world of pain and ugly surprises. So we’re converting it into a bee paradise instead.

As a weed mat we’ve used old bike boxes from the local bike shop which will eventually break down – but not before they’ve helped suppress the grass while more desirable plants establish themselves. We pinned them down with landscaping pins we bought from the local hardware – but if you’re patient, you could also make your own out of high tensile wire.


Next up we used heat treated pallets (chemical free) to create rows of shelves roughly on contour to ‘lock in’ the cardboard even more and to provide a “pocket” to place some compost which we’ll plant directly into. Again, the pallets are free – salvaged from the side of the road around town. We’re a big fan of free, cheap and DIY, especially when you’re capturing a ‘waste product’ and converting it into a highly functional resource. True, it doesn’t look super flash, but it’s semi-temporary in that it’ll be visible for 2-3 years and then will be swamped by beautiful and productive plants. The plants will effectively replace the pallet shelves and hold the bank together with their roots.

IMG_1521 We then made sure the cardboard received a solid soaking. This helps ‘bed’ it down and prevents it from repelling water, we want it to integrate with the existing soil as quickly as possible to ensure the seeds and plants we pop in thrive. You can also see we’ve started filling the shelves with compost in the photo below. This is where we’ll plant directly into, ensuring that we can get plants established all over the bank, and not just at the very bottom.


IMG_1525    IMG_1534

IMG_1529Looking down on the bank you can now see we have 4 mini terraces to plant into, where as before there was none – yay!


So, what do we plant the bank out with straight away? Tough stuff, that’s what – enter white clover! For the record, clover will get weedy, hence we NEVER put it near our annual beds or in areas where we don’t want to have to be constantly controlling it. The only places we’ve put it on our place is the steep banks which need quick growing, soil improving (it’s a nitrogen fixer) and flowering plants – clover does it all. We also put in stacks of sunflower and calendula seeds. In coming weeks we’ll also plant out the bank with perennial herbs and hardy native shrubs and ground covers.


IMG_1549One of our almond trees with a happy cluster of fat hen, amaranth and stinging nettle (all desirable ‘weeds’) growing around it

We didn’t bother mulching the bottom section of the bank due to it being so steep, instead have simply covered it with a combination of cardboard and jute mate to suppress the vigorous grass from taking over. At the bottom of the bank you can see our young orchard which we planted this past Winter which is settling in nicely.


The finished product (above), planted out with white clover, calendula and sunflower seeds. We’ll be planting strategically into the shelves in coming weeks with hardy flowering natives and perennial herbs to create a low shrub and ground creeper layer. It’s going to be beautiful.

And of course, all good working bees end on a high and tasty note – a hearty and colourful lunch topped off with cake and beer to express our enormous gratitude to some of our mates for making it happen. Thank you, thank you, thank you – we look forward to returning the favour!





Hobart City Farm

For the past two years, myself and a few other fine folk have been busting our guts in our spare time to find (and secure) land to set up a city farm. A city farm is just that – a small farm in the city. It’s not a community or school garden, but a working farm which employs people to grow serious amounts of food. As this process has taken longer than we hoped, Anton and I got on with life, started Good Life Permaculture, bought a house with a 1/4 acre and since then have been setting it up as a demonstration city farm.

But we’ve kept the flame burning as it’s something that just want leave us. And yes, we are setting up our own small urban block and home as a demonstration city farm, but we want to see paddocks of productive landscapes in our cities, paddocks and paddocks. It’s a vision that’s been lodged in my head and heart my whole life and I can’t let it go, not until its real. Cause nothing beats realness.

And so, it is with enormous pleasure, and some relief, that we’ve finally been able to launch the Hobart City Farm project at our local Sustainable Living Festival this weekend. We are a not-for-profit organisation, run like a social enterprise and focused on establishing a vibrant, financially viable and environmentally regenerative small farm that grows a diverse range of food, builds community and provides meaningful employment. We are more than stoked.


So, who are we exactly? We are 5 people, independent of Good Life Permaculture, and go by the names of James Da Costa, Bridget Stewart, Louise Sales, Sam Beattie and yours truly – Hannah. Anton is playing support on this project as he’s concentrating on not spreading himself so thin, smart bloke that one. And where is the land? It’s in New Town, around 3kms north of Hobart city centre, we’ll release the actually address of the site once we’ve finalised formalities – which are almost there.

Currently the site is a patch of lawn, but not for long as we’re running a multifaceted fundraising campaign to get the whole sh-bang off the ground. Part one is selling a huge amount of tomato seedlings we propagated ourselves at the Sustainable Living Festival this weekend. Pop on down today (Sunday 9th) to get your tom stash and meet some of the team, Good Life Permaculture’s stall is directly next door (we made sure of that) so you can say g’day to us too.

1656290_663245367107772_7241551968203277548_nSam hiding amongst the plethora of tomato plants – excuse the blurry photo

1236160_663243723774603_3622198941132883815_nThe team (minus Lousie Sales) getting excited at the Sustainable Living Festival yesterday

Part two of the fundraising efforts is our crowd funding campaign, complete with a pretty darn impressive list of gifts in exchange for your contributions. We’ve got beehives, permaculture designs, garden blitzes, seeds, parties, t-shirts, compost workshops and even naming writes to a tractor!

Watch the crowd funding film HERE

So why are we so gung-ho about this city farm thing?

Food: We’re passionate about investing in local and regional food systems to provide reliable access to a nutritious and diverse range of food. We see growing food in the heart of the community as an important way of rebuilding connections to where food comes from and the people who grow it. We’re committed to ensuring that the following generations have an understanding of the important role food plays in creating and maintaining resilient communities.

Community: In addition to producing food, the farm will grow community through facilitating educational opportunities in permaculture, food production and composting (to name a few) – both on and off the farm. The Hobart City Farm will encourage community involvement in the practical operations of the farm and help foster a vibrant community in the immediate surroundings and beyond.

Livelihoods: The Hobart City Farm will employ local Tasmanians, creating meaningful livelihoods for individuals. We are also looking and thinking beyond our farm gate and will explore the possibility of partnering with other organisations to provide training in small-hold farming. We hold a deep commitment to helping others gain the skills they need to become farmers.


We’d like to thank you in advance for helping to make our dreams of having a local, robust, ecologically based, kick-arse food system a reality. Cheers.

  • You can contribute to our crowd funding campaign here
  • Read all about us on our website
  • Like us on facebook to stay in the loop

Mullumbimby Community Garden

This past week we’ve been visiting family and the sunshine in northern NSW, trying to take a break from work (and almost succeeding) and catching up on some slow time. As I grew up in Brisbane and lived around these traps for a couple of years there are a plethora of fine fine fine folk I know in this region – but this time round we laid low and skipped the socialising bit and went straight for the rest. Which also includes dropping into local community gardens and peering over farm fences to see what’s going on since I last pocked my head in… Which has been a while.

For example, when I last visited the Mullumbimby community garden it consisted of a large paddock and a big herb spiral, it was literally JUST starting and had big dreams. So I was completely disorientated when I popped in this week and found this… I couldn’t even find the original herb spiral which I think has since evolved into a different food scape.



Having been around community gardens for well over a decade I know what I like in one… and I REALLY love the Mullumbimby community garden for several reasons, including…

It has the traditional private community plots where people can come and do their thing independently, no surprises there – as this is what most community gardens consist of in Australia. There’s also a Food for All section, space for anyone to harvest from – an offering to the community if you like. Again this is a common addition to lots of gardens around Aus which I love seeing.


And of course, like any good community garden, there are multiple gathering spaces for people to gather in, hold workshops, celebrations and to simply hang out in.


But there are a few things which set apart this garden from others. For example they have a large seed saving shed dedicated to preserving seeds and selling them on to folk who are looking for endemic, resilient goodness.


They also have a bug hotel, which is pretty darn cute and an effective method to attract the good guys (insects) into the garden. Providing basic habitat systems like this is a fantastic way to increase diversity into your garden.

IMG_1422And a bug hotel – I mean – how fantastic is that??

There’s also a patch of garden used by the Byron Bay College who use it to help teach their Permaculture courses, taking students through the practicalities of growing food, permaculture style. In the next patch over is a large section allocated to a very funky group called the Future Feeders. Their whole aim is to “establish a network of young farmers empowered by an ecological framework to build healthy soil, food security, ethical land management and resilient communities”. How awesome that they can do this directly from a community garden!

But you know what seriously tickles me pink?? The ultimate of the ultimate? They also make land available for private market gardeners to run their small businesses out of, growing food to sell at local markets. Now THIS is where it’s at. In so many ways this simple gesture is THE most powerful thing I can hope for our community gardens. That they move beyond a weekend hobby and towards fostering and supporting meaningful livelihoods and growing significant amounts of food.



I also loved visiting this garden as we ran into a very dear old friend of mine – Joey Venables, who I’ve know for almost half my life (yay for being in the right place at the right time). Joey’s one seriously great grower who just happens to have his own market garden within the community garden, he also works in bush regeneration and numerous other earth related projects – bascially, he’s a total legend.

IMG_1431Joey showing us around his garden, here’s to randomly running into good mates from a lifetime ago!



Over the past 10 years or so, I have watched and participated in community gardens (and other types of urban/rural agriculture) and have been overjoyed at how they’ve embedded themselves into Australian communities everywhere. They’re no longer a ‘fringe’ activity, but are recognised as relevant, effective, fun and beautiful in addressing serious food issues. And I get extra excited when I see gardens taking it deeper into what it means to foster local food systems by allowing ethical private enterprise to develop on their land. This is where seriously good things can happen. So thanks Mullumbimby community gardens and all the fantastic folk who make it happen – you were the cherry on top of our holiday!


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The Small Things

Lately, I’ve been focusing on appreciating the small things. Due to having an ever growing belly and the physical limitations that come with creating another human I have been well and truly slooooowed down. 

IMG_0702The Bump in progress – babe is due in late December.

This means no serious fencing, no helping build retaining walls, no digging holes for the hazelnut trees, no this, no that. For me, this is enormously frustrating, challenging and just so mentally hard. But after ending up doubled over in pain after doing some very mild physical work, I’ve learned my lesson – take it easy Hannah. I’m not complaining, just learning, and trying to appreciate the small things that I am able to do.

Like transplanting thyme to create a welcoming, aromatic entrance to our front door.


Making yoghurt, and lots of it.


Making home made muesli, lots of that too.


Tweaking the fence line, as in adding the top high tensile wire to create the ‘flop’ which is one of the few fencing jobs I CAN do.


Propagating and potting up seedlings for the imminent Spring plantings.




Organising every single workshop and event we’re doing in 2015 so that in theory, I can ‘take it easy’ next year. Hmmmm we’ll see how that goes.

I’m also still teaching, designing properties, running The Permablitz Project and thinking about all the good things to come. So there’s definitely not much twiddling of thumbs going on. Just a lot more inside time.

It’s lead to some pretty interesting conversations in our house around gender roles and stereotypes in the context of starting a small family. We can see how, through practicalities, women take care of the less physically demanding domestic ‘stuff’, while men do with the heavy lifting etc. For me, it’s been incredibly challenging to slot right into this stereotype and have to watch Anton do all the ‘fun’ stuff.  But as we discussed recently, this is a temporary arrangement for us. Once my body bounces back (fingers crossed) we’ll resume our standard patterns as much as possible which sees both of us digging, building, creating, washing dishes and cooking.

So, while my body is preoccupied, I focus on the small things, as it’s how I can be useful around here at the moment.  The dishes have never been done so regularly, we’re pretty sorted with our propagation and crop planning systems and we’re looking freakishly organised for 2015 work wise.

And I must say. A big ups and nod of the head to all the women and men out there who take on the domestic role in a home in a major way. It’s an often under valued, yet critical role to making the wheels turn, you’re friggin amazing and I don’t know how you do it. Respect!


Radical Homemaking

Radical homemaking – it sounds awesome doesn’t it. Straight away I have strong images of people wearing sequined capes while growing food, baking bread, making clothes, milking goats, building ‘stuff’ and raising children… All. At Once.

However, really – it looks something like this…


And this…


Basically, a lot of digging, building, fixing, inventing, creating, constant learning and problem solving, no sequined capes in site – however technically this wouldn’t be that hard to arrange. Don’t get me wrong, radical homemaking also looks like this…

kitchen bench



And this…


It’s real, home-based life. A mixture of the good, bad, beautiful and ugly – all mashed together and bound tightly by hard work, commitment and those things we shape and base our lives on called values and ethics. Radical homemaking is a very hands on approach centred around taking responsibility for where your required resources come from (food, shelter, entertainment, clothing etc).

Shannon Hayes is the woman who coined this term, wrote a book about it and lives her life in this fashion. Her tag line to this term is “reclaiming domesticity from a consumer culture”. In a time when choosing a domestic lifestyle (housewife/husband, stay at home mum/dad etc) isn’t overly valued, it takes some gumption to embrace this lifestyle as your ‘career’.


“Radical Homemakers [the book] is about men and women across the U.S. who focus on home and hearth as a political and ecological act; who center their lives around family and community for personal fulfillment and cultural change. It explores what domesticity looks like in an era that has benefited from feminism; where domination and oppression are cast aside, where the choice to stay home is no longer equated with mind-numbing drudgery, economic insecurity, or relentless servitude.”

We read this book a few years ago and while there was nothing new in there for us to mull over, we were both completely captured by it. It articulates so well and so powerfully what we have been quietly working towards with no way to describe it (that does it real justice). It’s a way of life which helps change the world by moving towards what we love, instead of running away from what we fear. By needing less [consuming less], we are free to live our beliefs. To us, this seems ordinary. To someone else, a values-driven lifestyle might seem an extraordinary act of bravery – Shannon Hayes.

For us, radical homemaking is all about re-embracing the home and local economy. This doesn’t necessarily mean ONLY working from home, but that it is at the heart of activity and life. When you think that a full time worker will spend around 40 hours in their workplace, plus commuting time which can be as much as 2 hours a day (if not more) – that’s 50 hours away from home during the week. It means that ‘home’ is something you get to do on the weekends, which seems kind of backwards and perhaps even a little unhealthy in terms of ordering priorities.

To help people re-focus their lives, Shannon put together 10 easy steps for becoming a radical homemaker to support folk in living a values-based life….

  • Commit to hanging your laundry out to dry (instead of using a dryer).
  • Dedicate a portion of your lawn to a vegetable garden.
  • Get to know your neighbors. Cooperate to save money and resources.
  • Go to your local farmers’ market each week before you head to the
    grocery store.
  • Do some spring cleaning to identify everything in your home that you absolutely don’t need. Donate to help others save money and resources.
  • Make a commitment to start carrying your own reusable bags and use them on all your shopping trips.
  • Choose one local food item to learn how to preserve for yourself for the winter.
  • Get your family to spend more evenings at home, preferably with the TV off.
  • Cook for your family.
  • Focus on enjoying what you have and who are with. Stop fixating on what you think you may need, or how things could be better “if only.”

At this point I should clearly state that we do not think that everyone should quit their jobs and cover themselves in dirt permanently in order to live a meaningful or worthy life. At the very heart of living radically lie values. I personally believe that if we can move towards living with/by them, then that is the most radical, wonderful, productive and happiness-creating thing we can possibly do. If nothing else, tap into what you hold most dear and live your life accordingly.

Love, Hannah and Anton – Radical Homemakers in progress… x


If you’re interested, you can find the book – Radical Homemakers here.

*Your blogger is Hannah Moloney, co-director of Good Life Permaculture and lover of all things fun and garden-esk.


Working with people is awesome… & sometimes really hard

Working with people is the hardest part of my work, it’s also the majority of it. I know it sounds awful and it might not be wise to put this in writing, but I have said (more than once) that if it wasn’t for people, ‘insert name of project’ would be perfect.

I don’t dislike people by any means, but we’re a diverse bunch us humans and some of us are especially unique – in both good and interesting ways. And of course, how we interact with people is often a reflection on ourselves, so please don’t think I sit up on my hill judging folk. I do believe that when you judge others, you’re judging yourself – I get that.

But people are hard work. Working with them meaningfully is hard work. You have to… well, really work at it – constantly.

And of course we all have our own baggage which we accumulate over life. Whether that’s trauma, anxiety, stupid political policies/laws imposed on us, mental illness, old age (and the mental fatigue that can come with it), sickness or stress, people can get way complicated.

A while ago, around 13 years ago to be exact, I had already developed a similar perspective to the one I’ve just outlined above. However, despite this somewhat ‘dark’ outlook on humans, I recognised that if we want a healthy future for our one and only Earth, if we want to develop strong, vibrant community cultures and if we want our children to be born into a world worth living in, then we need to cooperate with people to create this.

Around that same time, I stopped sitting in tree sits trying to help protect Tasmania’s old growth forests and started looking into this thing called Permaculture more. I liked the ethics – earth care, people care and fair share. In particular, people care caught my eye, head and heart. That’s we’re it’s at I thought to myself. My work and life needs to be focused on earth care and fair share BUT this shizzle will only happen if we actually work together to make it happen. We need to look after ourselves and one another, but we also need to collaborate and coordinate to create a world worth living in.

So yes, if it wasn’t for people, everything would be so much easier and straightforward. But we are here, and the good news is that we have everything we need to get this ‘living fairly’ business right.

And so, most of my work is people-centred, because I chose it to be so. I remind myself this on days when a brick wall is more receptive than some folk I have to communicate with.

And of course, the hard moments are all worth it when you get to have the golden times like these….

Refugee gardens

The Live and Learn project 2014: Working with refugee families, teaching them how to establish food gardens in a cold climate


The Australian City Farms & Community Garden Network’s national gathering, Food 4 Thought, (Hobart 2014) organising team

group photo   Students from our first Permaculture Design Course (2013). An absolute wonderful bunch of human beings this lot

1698143_orig2011, Uganda – working with Actionaid on a campaign to raise awareness about African small-hold women farmers


2010, Melbourne, Cultivating Community – The Composter’s Composium relay race


2010, Doing a worm farm workshop for a community garden while working with Cultivating Community


Felicity, one of the ace participants of The Compost Kings & Queens Project, Hobart 2013

I only take photos of the happy, celebratory moments so haven’t got any ‘hard moment’ photos to show you. It doesn’t bode well when you’re having a rough time with people to pull out your camera and say ‘hey, can you just hold that pose/crazy face expression you’re pulling right now’. So I show you the good times, because that’s what fuels me, inspires me and reminds me of the opportunities we have to do amazingly great, useful and fun things with our lives, for ourselves, each other and our one and only Earth.

Interesting Resources

*Your blogger is Hannah Moloney, Co-Director of Good Life Permaculture and lover of all things fun and garden-esk.


Brunswick Tool Library

On Anton’s recent trip to Melbourne he got lucky and gate crashed the Brunswick Tool Library’s first birthday (yes I’m jealous). The Brunswick Tool Library is a lot like a book library, but you get to check out tools instead of books – talk about fantastic.


It’s designed for people who do occasional home improvement, garden or DIY projects but don’t want to buy a tool they might only use once. It offers tools to the Moreland and surrounding areas, for both residents and community groups to access to hand tools, power tools, garden tools, ladders, etc. for use on their own projects. The whole thing was initiated by Joleen Hess, a highly skilled, renowned handy-woman – these days there are lots of people helping to make it happen.

Brunswick tool library

 Joleen Hess getting excited by tools.


Early May 2014 marked their one year birthday – the first of many I’m sure.


Each April they do an ‘Aprils Tool’ campaign where people can donate tools to the library – they’ve got a might fine collection going on. From what I can see they’ve got everything you could hope for – if you were to try and have this type of tool collection at home it would literally cost you thousands.



newdaily_070214_BrunswickWhen you get to learn new skills with good tools you get happy.

They also do the occasional community event where they teach people some of the basics, like how to hammer a nail into timber – you can see varying degrees of success below. In a world where we seriously need a reskilling revolution this little ol’ tool library is one of the simple, yet cutting edge initiatives which is helping to lead the way in teaching people real, useful skills.

And there is nothing more important than having useful skills to offer – I realise that’s open to interpretation, but the more we know how to do things with our own hands (cooking, building, sewing, growing, making, fixing) the more resilient and independent we are. Also, a happy side benefit is that life is a lot cheaper when you don’t have to pay others to do things for you.



Practicing how to hammer a nail

Want to get involved?

They’re open each Saturday (10am-2pm) and Wednesdays (4pm-8pm) and take memberships from residents of Moreland and surrounding areas (you do need to be 18 or over). There’s a small annual fee you need to pay, but we’re convinced it’s worth it – you can see their membership page for more information.

If you want to get involved in the project or have some old tools lying around that you would like to donate, they’d love to hear from you. You can also follow these guys on facebook to stay in the loop with what they’re up to.

So why buy, when you can borrow. Everything about this project is good – I’m hoping this incredible community resource goes viral and that we see them popping up everywhere, especially in Hobart!


*Your blogger is Hannah Moloney, co-director of Good Life Permaculture and lover of all things fun and garden-esk.


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Food 4 Thought

The Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network held their 6th national gathering, Food 4 Thought, in Hobart on the weekend. Over 150 people gathered from around Australia to this sold out event. And it was good, really good. We, at Good Life Permaculture, volunteered our time to help organise it and had an absolute blast bringing people together from every state and territory to talk, think and do all things urban agriculture.

The overall theme for the event was “exploring meaningful livelihoods in urban agriculture” as we’re particularly interested in establishing a culture which embraces this form of small-scale farming as a very real opportunity to play a significant role in our food system which can feed people, lots of people.

To share some of the absolute joy we had over the weekend, here are some happy snaps of priceless moments…


James Da Costa, Charlie Mgee and Bridget Stewart: these guys make straw bales look HOT

That wide eyed man in the middle is Charlie Mgee from the Formidable Vegetable Sound System. We brought him over from Perth, W.A to play his incredibly dance-able permaculture music… and also to help move straw bales with some of the organising crew – at 7:30am – what a legend.

name tags

Because the crew didn’t already have enough to do (I’m being sarcastic here) we made everyone their own special name tag, just for that extra special touch.

crowd farming

To show how amazing and significant urban food production is, we ran a crowd farming campaign to help feed around 180 people over the weekend and received an enormous amount of homegrown produce from urban vegie patches and market gardens, including this impressive haul Cara and Fin delivered from the Agrarian Kitchen. All up we estimate that 50% of the fresh food was crowd farmed – brilliant!

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Our amazing cooks from Source Community Wholefoods turned all this crowd farming produce into delicious and nutritious tukka – like these roast vegies; there sure were a lot of happy bellies walking around.

2014-03-23 11.34.06With a jam packed program of highly talented professionals from all around Australia, people were kept busy and engaged with workshops such as how to grow perfect onions (above). Below you can also see Costa and Anton (the other half of Good Life Permaculture) teaching folk how to build a no-dig garden.

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group work

We also made sure there was a lot of space for sharing and connecting. Time for people to tell their stories, hear about one another’s experiences and ultimately, develop meaningful networks – which is absolutely gold.

ACFCGN board

Amongst everything, the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network held their AGM and elected a new board and supporting members for this coming year. Here you can see them looking mighty fine, keep an eye on this lot, I anticipate great things from them .

1384223_10152374119069319_322913476_n We’re not sure how these two ever got separated at birth, but we’re sure glad they’re together now. Costa and Charlie Mgee = serious amounts of fun. It’s amazing how beers and Mountain Pepper’s organic woodfired pizzas bring the best out of people on a crisp Autumn evening in Hobart.

calvin n heart

And THEN, while Charlie Mgee was rocking the dance floor, Calvin the carrot arrived from Darwin and proceeded to steal the show. Courtesy of Emily and Lauchie, Calvin has now officially moved to Hobart and is living with us… in a suitcase, so you’ll be seeing him around town every now and then.


L-R: Fiona Campbell, Lissa Villeneuve (standing), me (sitting), Bridget Stewart, Costa Georgiadis, Gudrun Wells (standing), Nel Smit (standing), James Da Costa (standing), Margaret Steadman (sitting). Photo by Russ Grayson.

Us – the organising crew (plus Costa), happy and FULL after a weekend of work and awesomeness.

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Costa and Bonnie Wykman from Black Earth Collective

And then? Well, then we went to to the pub, as you do when you have dear friends visiting from afar. We laughed, yarned and tried to wind down, and totally failed :-).

For us, working on projects like Food 4 Thought is incredibly important. We see it as an investment in our community and future, helping to develop a culture of vibrancy, proactiveness and progressiveness.  Bringing people together is one of the more powerful things you can do to create a resilient and effective network across our big country. I’m looking forward to witnessing the ripple effects Food 4 Thought has created as people return to their homes and start or continue their great work in establishing urban agriculture as a meaningful and real part of Australia’s food system – yeah!

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