Permablitz #202 – Fairfield
The sky was clear and the earth was solid, and another relatively peaceful day was blooming over the back streets of Fairfield, Victoria. As mid-morning grew near, a grass-roots team of designers, caterers and family helpers were busily readying their site for the day’s activities, while a small but potent mass of eager volunteers were slowing trickling in closer from all the far-flung corners of the sprawling Melbourne metropolis.
The first Saturday of October 2017 was a blitz day for Jim, Sandra, Heipe, Mark and Matthew, a tight-knit combination family who share a (recently) custom built two story dwelling, featuring a rather comfortable energy star rating of 7.4, as well as a generous amount of space strategically set aside for the backyard and side entrance. The amount of open space left the site primed for a productivity makeover that would further bolster the environmental credentials of the large, modern family home, simultaneously making it just an awesome place to live, love and prosper for years to come.
First cab off the rank was the vigorous excavation of clay to make way for a reclaimed bathtub-cum-oriental style pond, featuring ferns, aquatic plants and logs to foster a small-scale ecosystem of insects, birds and amphibians. In true permablitz style, the otherwise hefty amount of physical labour was knocked out in no time by a rotating army of pickers, diggers and wheelbarrow pushers. Also in true permaculture style, part of the job was made easier by the interaction of natural substances; clay plus gypsum equals a much happier and less worn out gardener. Refer here for more info on this type of clever soil alchemy.
Opposite the attractive water feature, another reclaimed bathtub was put to good use as a raised wicking bed. This rustic, zero-waste design gives the family the ability to collect nutrient-enriched drain water in a bucket below the tub, which can then be used on the various garden beds located around the yard (of which there are many). On the subject of raised garden beds, the blitzers also installed a whole new one along the sunny northern edge, complete with an espalier system overhead to accommodate fruit trees and various tendrils of climbing foliage, providing seasonal shade to the living area within.
All this ant-like locomotion of soil seemed effortless over the course of the day, in part due to the engaging conversation to be had by volunteers of diverse backgrounds, as well as the energy packed away inside the tasty foodstuffs served up by the team of kitchen troopers representing Camp Eureka. There is also much to be said for the safety and personal wellness benefits brought about by the introduction of the Alexander Technique to the group, by the in-house practitioner Jim.
As the sun crept further across the sky in to the afternoon and the volunteers began to drop off one by one, an awesome transformation was noticeable in the beautification and extra functionality of the area. However, a single day is never enough in the context of a long-term permaculture design, so expect a follow-up blitz to address the humming potential that lies in wait beyond the back porch. Future improvements will include the renovation of an old shed frame in to an exciting greenhouse, the construction of compost bays, forever more planting and soil improving, and of course the seasonal adjustments and upgrades that come with putting a system to the test over the course of time.
To everyone involved – you were legendary, and hopefully we’ll all be seeing one another again in a garden not too far away.
Check out the rest of the cool pics by ace photographer Kerin Fogarty in the gallery here!