Permablitz #181 – Kilsyth
“I’ll put you down a documentor for the blitz on the 22nd and I think I’ll be there as well. In any case everyone is very friendly.”
Such was my primer from Eka for Permablitz #181 which was about to beautifully transform a suburban garden in Kilsyth. Being a first timer I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but luckily it wasn’t long until two more PBlitzers arrived, also first timers! Well, we needn’t have worried, of course! Linda (our fabulous host for the day) was there at the ready with a warm handshake, a welcome smile and the name tags, don’t forget the name tags.
One of the great things about Linda and her family is they’ve incorporated so many permaculture-ry practices into their life prior to the blitz: there’s chooks aplenty; a nursery grade propagation space coupled with a lovely little glasshouse; a chook tractor which doubles as a pond-life protector (see the white pipe geodesic dome in the images); composting systems, water tanks and a fully decked out man-cave with a bar. Ah, ok… so perhaps that last one doesn’t quite qualify as a permie development!
We had two key zones to Blitz, designed by Adrian (the Rear/East yard) and Matt (the Front/West yard), both were first time designers. The extraordinary Seila ran the wicking beds workshop, and effortlessly delivered some fabulous knowledge across the whole day.
Work kicked off in the rear yard with the wicking beds, closely followed by the sheet mulching of the whole lawn. With plenty of ‘barrow behind’ calls we smashed most of the mulching, had the wicking beds plastic lined, screenings added and shade cloth installed, all just in time for the second best part of the day: morning tea! That could never happen before lunch, which was, quite subjectively, the best part of the day; yes, it truly was! The workshops were informative, engaging and inspiring, the physical work was good for the body and mind, but the lunch was a feast to behold.
The afternoon was marked by what might be the greatest large scale transformation in the history of permablitz. What was just a plain old lawn morphed into a orchard (with irrigation) literally in front of our eyes. With Linda’s husband Mark on the Kanga scraping down the grass, the food forest was built from the ground up: mainline irrigation off the water tank, the sub-line ribs running downhill.
(“Gravity is your friend”, another gem, thank you Seila) into the drip lines which would encircle the freshly planted forest. For the first time a phenomenon of the synchronised raking that was on par with any synchronised Olympic sport was observed at a blitz (please see photos). With a grand vision across 10yrs or so, the production trees were interspersed with some pioneer species (mainly Acacias sp.), emulating the functions of a naturally occurring forest system. As you may be aware Acacias are excellent pioneers – fast growing, short lived and they fix nitrogen into the soil; perfect companions for a tender young food forest.
This is definitely the site to be revisited in three or four years’ time.
My final thought is simply – when and where’s the next one?!? Oh and as for “Eating the suburbs, one backyard at a time”? You bet – sign me up!
Words: Jeremy P Images: Jeremy P, Helen M, Eka M