Permablitz makeover helping green Illawarra gardens
They’re a group of permaculture crusaders helping to transform Illawarra gardens one native plant and chicken at a time.
The Permablitz the Gong group will take to Coledale this weekend to rebuild their sixth domestic garden into an environmentally sustainable thriving eco-system.
“We work with the host who has agreed to put on the blitz and provide the materials, and a few months out we do a design with them and work out what they want,” Jacqui Besgrove said.
“In the last Permablitzes we’ve established chicken systems, native vegetation beds, fruit trees and ponds for native habitat.
“It’s a whole eco-system rather than just the vegies down the back.”
Jacqui and her fellow Permablitz members spend one intense day working on a garden, in the same style as the popular Backyard Blitz television show.
The idea started in Melbourne in 2006, where the Victorian crew have transformed 140 gardens to date.
“I’ve been involved in community gardens and I’ve never seen anything like this,” fellow Permablitz the Gong founder Sheryl Wiffen said.
“The blitzes are exactly on the mark and it hits what people want – they build a connection to the community, go away with new skills and feel great at the end of the day.
“You’re helping someone else, often with small children, build an environment where they can grow food and teach their children.”
In fact, the event is so popular, this weekend’s event has booked out with 10 people currently on the waiting list.
You have to help out at three Permablitz events to be eligible to host your own event, and people of all skill levels and mobility are welcome.
Both Jacqui and Sheryl have completed permaculture courses and lend their knowledge to the design and execution of the makeover, as well as drawing on information provided by the Melbourne team.
“We always look to Melbourne for all the cool stuff they have there and we wanted Wollongong to be awesome too,” Jacqui said.
She says most Permablitz events cost the owner $500-$2000, but she’s confident they could manage one for $100 if the host was willing to ‘salvage everything’.
It’s in line with the permaculture philosophy of using recycled material where possible and sharing knowledge and skills.
All the Permablitz team work as volunteers and have regular day jobs, but they say they keep coming back for the sense of achievement, and work regardless of the weather on the day.
Jacqui says one of her favourite experiences was blitzing all day in the pouring rain.
“The buzz is amazing and we blitz rain, hail or shine.”
You can find out more about the Permablitz the Gong team on their Facebook site.