Permablitz #203 – Sunbury
The coolest new thing to hit Sunbury since ’72 was the blitzing of Anne and Ian’s humble home, made all the merrier by a bunch of budding first-timers getting stuck in to the action alongside some more experienced permies. Ambition was as high as the humidity when participants arrived to the sight of several formidable piles of soil in the front yard, not to mention a stack of back-quivering straw bales and concrete slabs lined up along the side fence. The work looked mean but the volunteers were keen, and after the obligatory welcome circle followed by stretches and a safety briefing, the permablitz magic began to unfold.
Prior to Anne and Ian coming along to put the sun into Sunbury, their site was a barren expanse of kikuyu on a slight angle. Then, earlier this year some professional landscapers transformed the area into a two-level terrace, featuring an orchard enclosure above and several rows of curved garden beds below. The kikuyu was all but banished thanks to fierce competition from a cover crop of beans and mustard seed, which was promptly pulled up to use as green-manure for what will soon become a paradise of fresh produce. Upon liberating the beds, the first cab off the rank was the soaking of cardboard for sheet-mulching, followed by lasagne-style layers of straw and nutrient-enriched soil.
While an ant-like procession of wheelbarrow-wielding dirt conveyors were ferrying the brown stuff from front to back for those beds, a crack-team were putting their brains together in the garage to create not just a two-bay compost bin, but a work of art. The result was an impressive amalgamation of pallets and sections of an old wooden fence in to something very sturdy and functional. Although still a compromise from the original vision due to the inaccuracies of working with weathered timber, some invaluable woodworking/problem-solving skills were covered under the supervision of Terry the designer. And we got to use some cool tools.
After a choice selection of super-scrumptious foods were put out by Sandy the caterer (and former Brunswick blitz host) some inspirational speeches were made to stoke up the spirits and run the momentum forward in to the afternoon. The lift proved worthwhile as the day wore on and noteworthy accomplishments became evident, including the raising and levelling of the entire front yard with soil dammed up by a straw-bale retaining wall. Hiding in there was also the now-submerged hügelkultur bed, as well as a neat little olive tree standing stoutly in place of a banished agapanthus.
By the end of it all the sense of achievement was palpable as the now thoroughly broken-in blitz beginners slowly began to head home one by one in to the afternoon daze. All of the volunteers put in a tremendous effort despite challenging climatic conditions, and all of them left that day holding a little piece of the energy that made Permablitz 203 the sweaty fiesta that it was. A big thank you to all involved!