Monday, September 17, 2007

Transition to Australia

This is the first of what we hope will be many posts chronicalling our pursuite of Permaculture. We do not claim to be experts on Permaculture and we have yet to teach a course. This is why we have choosen 'pursuing permaculture', for us this title represents a constant state of learning and exploration. We have heard it stated; that the futher one moves down the path of Permaculture the less one truly understands the details of Permaculture. A little bit cliche but it works.

From here on out to the end of our lives we are committed to providing an ever growing amount of our needs in a way that enriches, rather than destroys, the living systems of the planet. We are also committed to sharing in this experience with any others who are interested.

For us, Permaculture is a multidimensional perspective rather than a specific technique or strategy. Coming from a Permaculture perspective it is possible to work around any adverse conditions and achieve human needs while enriching the global ecosystems.

Australia is the birthplace of the Permaculture movement and after careful research decided that this would be the best place to learn. With careful management of our limited financial resources we sent Jesse on a two month trip to Australia in late 2006. While in Australia, Jesse attended two different Permaculture Designing Courses, one taught be Geoff Lawton and one taught by Bill Molison and Geoff Lawton. In between he spent several weeks training at the Permaculture Research Institute in sub-tropical New South Wales. At the end of his trip he was offered an opportunity to help with the design and implemtation of 480 acre system in September 2007.

The Plan...

Buy two plane tickets for Australia. Pack away and give away all of our unnessceary worldy possesions. Leave our two great jobs, loved ones, and everything familiar behind for a six month volunteer positions on the other side of the world. Cross our fingers and hope for the best!

The last few days before we left on our journey to purse permaculture in Australia were very busy, but we were able to squeeze in a nice evening with some great friends. The support that we received was such a boost to both of our spirits considering the huge leap we were making. Words could never express what the support of friends and family has meant to us. We know that we have made the right choice but it is not enough just to know, without the support we could not feel that this was right.

Life was really full-on in the days leading up to our departure. We were Pretty tired and nervous by this point but we managed to pull it together and spiffy up. Unsure of what was to come, we flew out on the 27th of September and landed in Australia on the 29th. We lost a whole two days and it is a wierd thing flying so far. It is almost as if you don't really exist during the flight and also a bit of a time warp.

In Australia...

Fredrik picked us up from the airport and took us straight to the land. The care and cultivation of this land will consume most of our efforts in the next six months.

We used an ATV to cover all 500 acres. We caught a glimpse or two of some Roos but they were to quick for my camera.

Jesse and Fredrik looking at one of the dams on site. Most of the earth works on site are going to need some repair. Jesse was feeling really overwhelmed at this point, 500 acres is a lot of land to try and envision especially after the flight. Most of our work will be concentrated on a small segment of the land near the new house site.

My PDC at the Permaculture Research Institute...

Three days after our arrival I went to the PRI and attended a 2 week PDC course, with Geoff Lawton. It was a lot of information to take in but I felt that it was the perfect length of time for me. I feel inspired to test all that I have learned but nervous too. After the PDC there was a dam and swale system being built at one of Geoff's student's place in Woolgoolga, NSW. Jesse, Fredrick and I went to watch and help. It was an extremly useful experience to be involved in. We got an opportunity to observe Geoff giving a consultation and to help with some of the surveying for the earth works. It took almost two full days to clear the site and dig the dam. We couldn't really help with the construction because there are certain things only a machine can do, not much need for muscle power during our time there. A fellow named EJ and his family are in possession of this land and have decided to take more resonsiblity for the food they eat. In order to have a food forest and increase the food they produce more water is needed. Hence the dam.

Geoff (Left) talking with EJ (right) about his vision and future plans for the site. EJ is trying to move away from working at his job and concentrate his time on growing for his family, using their six acre block of sub-tropical land. This earthworks project is his families big leap. EJ was really excited and happy about the whole thing. It was a great experince to give support to EJ and his family as they work towards their dreams.

The earth mover (in the distance) has arrived and Geoff is giving him directions on what will happen. You can see the dam area staked out in this picture. Most of the people in view are students from my PDC here to help and learn.

Jesse standing in the bottom of the completed dam. It is over 4m deep in the middle aproximatley 400,000l in capacity, and took a 15ton excavator 18 hours to complete. Once it is filled with rain water and had a season or two worth of growth it will be a beautiful little spot for EJ and his family. It is possible for an experineced aquaculturalist to grow 1kg of fish per litre of water at any given time. EJ could easily produce 100 kg of fish protien a year with this dam.