Thursday, December 5, 2013

Permies get to work in the Philippines

On the morning of 8 November 2013, category 5 Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) made a direct hit on the Philippines, a densely populated country of 92 million people, devastating areas in 36 provinces. Haiyan is possibly the most powerful storm ever recorded. While we debate in relative comfort whether this kind of wild climate event is really a symptom of climate change or not, the poorer and weaker parts of our population gets hit hardest. The full force of the wrath of mother earth.
Yolanda first made landfall at Guiuan, Eastern Samar province, with wind speeds of 235 km/h and gusts of 275 km/h. Rain fell at rates of up to 30mm per hour and massive storm surges up to six metres high hit Leyte and Samar islands. Many cities and towns experienced widespread destruction, with as much as 90 per cent of housing destroyed in some areas. Roads are still impassable, and airports and seaports impaired; heavy ships have been thrown inland. Water supply and power are cut; much of the food stocks and other goods are destroyed; many health facilities are not functioning and medical supplies are quickly being exhausted.

To this devastation, permaculture activists in the Philippines, as well as the wider region, swiftly responded, setting up an aid group, called Permaculture Aid Yolanda (PAY). PAY members and partners gathered in Puerto Princesa, Palawan late November, devising strategies and plans. 
They have since sent out an observation team led by the aid expert Steve Cran, to affected regions, to connect with local partners, locate potential project sites, and identify needs gaps. The group has set up a base camp in the Maia ecovillage. 
The ecovillage will house volunteers and provide training, before deployment to the field. It may also serve as respite for field workers, should the need arise. The ecovillage will also be the training ground for practical permaculture aid and development skills for the locals.
They plan to establish bases in Cebu, Coron, Leyte and Panay.  These base camps will serve as hubs for the provision of aid and relief, community training and facilitation, and field projects. In the long term, regional base camps will be assimilated into the local communities as centres for health, education, and other community needs.

While the conventional crisis relief effort is focused more on getting life back on track as before, permaculture aid sees the devastation as an opportunity to develop a better future, more sustainable and resilient one. Sustainable and long-term solutions to crises require an integrated and holistic model that supports affected communities to rebuild their homes and lives in the short term, with a focus on self-sufficiency and resilience, putting the future back into their own hands.
Basic human needs of food, shelter, water and community are addressed from a framework that equally values the health of the environment in which we live.
PAY will tap into local networks, link and liaise with local groups, so through them they can learn and incorporate local and indigenous knowledges and skills. At the same time, they will bring in some novel ideas and techniques developed elsewhere, such as earthship construction, which will be designed to meet the local areas and conditions.

You too can help these devastated communities in the Philippines to rebuild their lives.
Funds are desperately needed, though PAY is operating on a voluntary basis, and all members are self-funded. HRN already has $1000($500 from the Bill Gammage talk) to donate to kick start a fund-raising effort for PAY.  HRN is happy to act as its local fund raising point. Even the smallest donation is a plus as it is a local group helping themselves so funds go further. Please contact HRN for bank details

PAY is seeking dedicated volunteers from the permaculture community, and related field. Understanding and commitment to permaculture ethics, a willingness to learn, and minimum availability of ideally 3 months is essential. Prior training and experience would be very useful.

As PAY operates on a collaborative basis, they are open to any contacts and connections within existing aid and development organisations active in the Philippines. Corporate partners who may be able to donate goods in kind are also welcome.

You can follow the PermaAidYolanda team here.
If you think you can help, please get in touch with them at

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Skate Park Garden Working Bee and Earth Render Workshop

Skate Park Garden Daylesford working bee  10.00am Wednesday December 11th

There is an upcoming working bee at the Skate Park on Wednesday December 11th at 10 - 12pm to put down a compacted sawdust path, and to install some weed matting around the baby wattle hedge plants. This will reduce the need for slashing those areas behind the fruit trees.  About 10 people are needed, but all welcome! Please bring shovels, old tent pegs and wheelbarrows.
          For more info contact Georgina

Earth Render Workshop    Guildford    Dec  7th and 8th (this weekend)

A two day workshop run by James Henderson and Frank Thomas that covers history, sands, clay, straw clay render, sand clay render, clay paints, application techniques and more.
Learn from two of Australia’s most experienced earth renderers.
$300 per person, organic food included.  Cook your own pizza on Sat in a cob pizza oven.  Receive a free copy of James’ new book “Earth Render” (worth $30)
Highly recommended

Fore more info contact Henderson Clayworks

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bill Gammage in Daylesford

  • 90 people packed the Senior Citizen's rooms to hear Bill Gammage, author of the book "The Biggest Estate On Earth".  The audience was captured by his presentation and there were many questions. It was a succinct  overview of the book.
     Across Australia, early Europeans commented again and again that the land looked like a park. With extensive grassy patches and pathways, open woodlands and abundant wildlife, it evoked a country estate in England. Bill Gammage has discovered this was because Aboriginal people managed the land in a far more systematic and scientific fashion than we have ever realised. For over a decade, Gammage has examined written and visual records of the Australian landscape. He has uncovered an extraordinarily complex system of land management using fire and the life cycles of native plants to ensure plentiful wildlife and plant foods throughout the year. We know Aboriginal people spent far less time and effort than Europeans in securing food and shelter, and now we know how they did it. With details of land-management strategies from around Australia, The Biggest Estate on Earth rewrites the history of this continent, with huge implications for us today. Once Aboriginal people were no longer able to tend their country, it became overgrown and vulnerable to the hugely damaging bushfires we now experience. And what we think of as virgin bush in a national park is nothing of the kind.
  • If you missed Bill in person, borrow a copy of his book from the library or HRN has 4 copies of the book available at $35 . We could do a book study group if there were a few people interested.  Any takers?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Charlie Mgee at the Sound Shell

Charlie delighted a small but enthusiastic crowd with great music and lyrics at the Sound Shell on Saturday and many decided that his CD was a must. But if you missed him, there will be another opportunity to see him or do a ukelele workshop with him in late January so stay tuned to HRN for the dates.
Charlie at the Sound Shell

Bill Gammage in Daylesford November 29th

Bill Gammage, the veteran historian and author of the ground breaking book, The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia, will give a talk at the Daylesford Town Hall on Friday Nov 29.

Bill Gammage is adjunct professor in the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University.

In this multi-award winning book, Bill refutes the common notion that pre-1788 Aboriginal people had no system of land management, on the contrary he shows that the people who lived here then had developed, over many generations, a complex, elaborate system of management to ensure the survival of their culture.

He suggests that time spent maintaining the landscape was a cultural obligation of great import. Bill Gammage uses written accounts by explorers and historians, and early landscape views (sketches, paintings, etc) to explain how Aborigines created an ideal landscape for obtaining the variety of food items they needed in their diet, and kept the countryside clear of dense vegetation (and thus dangerous fires).

A current exhibition of works by colonial artist Thomas Clark at the Hamilton Art Gallery illustrates Gammage's argument that the landscape was open and parklike. A room full of 1850-60's views of the western district ......wide open spaces, clear of stumps. Clark and other artists of the day had no agenda to paint anything other than what they saw. Where are the trees, now so plentiful?

The indigenous Australians were more efficient than Europeans, Bill asserts, in getting food, shelter and other needs from the land, mostly by the use of fire and manipulation of the life-cycles of food plants.Once the fire-based land management system was removed with the arrival of Europeans, the continent became overgrown and thus more fire prone (made worse in recent times, by the climate changing to a much drier one). With The Biggest Estate on Earth, Bill Gammage has updated the history of Australia, and our way of seeing our land.

The central premise of The Biggest Estate on Earth is that before white settlement, the continent had been looked after by the mindful and meticulous caretakers maintaining by cultural and religious norms which were essentially unified across the whole continent including Tasmania (that had been separated from the mainland for 8,000 yrs). The implications of Gammage's evidence and conclusions speaks directly to concerns with sustainability and landcare. The ensuing debate will change us and the land hopefully for the better.
Do not miss this rare opportunity.

7.30pm Friday 29 November Daylesford Town Hall
Entry $10 / $8 pre booked $15 / $12 on the night. Refreshments included.

 Here's Bill Gammage talking about the book:

Review on the Wheeler Centre website.

 For more info or phone 5348 3636.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

update Charlie Mgee

Hey all, Charlie will now be playing down at the Mineral Springs Reserve at the sound shell instead of the Skate Park where the Swiss Italian Festa action is. Come down between 1 - 3pm on Saturday (Nov 2nd) and join the fun.    We will do the Skate Park planting at another time.. tba soon!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Charlie Mgee at the Skate Park

CharliefarmerCharlie Mgee’s very special “End-of-tour, homecoming show” is a must see.
Mgee has recently returned from an international tour where he performed songs from his album, “Permaculture: a Rhymer’s Manual”, to sell-out shows. We’ve heard about Charlie’s heroics in England. We’ve heard about the many reviews. Now it’s time to see for ourselves this permaculture influenced dance music sensation.
Charismatic Perth-based singer songwriter Charlie will be in Daylesford for one show only  to perform his songs based on the 12 principles of permaculture in various musical styles ranging from ‘climate-change reggae’ to ‘peak-oil polka’, so don’t miss it. “Permaculture: a Rhymer’s Manual” focuses on bringing simple concepts of sustainability into the spotlight using the power of music and humour to convey permaculture principles in fresh ways to new audiences. Mgee takes a dynamic, brave new approach to communicating concepts of sustainability through ukulele, rhymes and positive inspiration. But its not just adults that Charlie manages to capture, bring the kids as they are sure to love it; that is why it is at the Skate Park where we hope there will be some young ukelele enthusiasts who can swing along with Charlie. His music is available here.
Our own David Holmgren, celebrated environmental pioneer who inspired Charlie’s concept album will be there, grooving along as well.
 A fun filled afternoon guaranteed. Great family entertainment. A rare act that kids and big people alike can enjoy. And we might just do some tree planting to help make the Skate Park shadier and more pleasant in the summer and a fruit or two. Come prepared! Bring a herb or veggie to plant, a trowel or  a spade
Charlie Mgee’s Permaculture: a Rhymer’s Manual
More Mgee’s songs, news and videos,  visit Permaculture Ukelele website.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Green Unplugged Film Festival

The Green Unplugged Film Festival features many free online films of interest to us all...
Highly recommended is the opening film Green Unplugged, from New Zealand.
It features lots of amazing footage on the beauties of nature and carries a strong message of change.
You can watch the film online, or if you are reading this in your email you can watch by clicking on this link.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Community Dinner

Did you know that the word "equinox" is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, night and day are about equal length?

Image from here

Come and help celebrate the coming spring equinox with a community dinner.

Bring a plate to share of vegetarian home-grown, local or preserved food, and something to drink.

Hepburn Primary School (enter on 14th street).
Thursday September 26.
7pm for 7.30 start.

Please feel free to bring along music, a poem, a song, a short story or whatever you fancy to help celebrate the changing of the seasons.

Equinox is 6.44am on Sept 23rd, if anyone wants to know.

by Tues September 24, please.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How are you going?

A couple of months ago the editor of the U.S. journal, Natural Hazards Observer, published by the University of Colorado, invited bushfire safety expert Joan Webster to write an article on ‘the fate of the Australian policy of leave early or stay and defend.’ You can read her article here.

It has been archived in the Bushfire Preparation section of this blog, which you can find in the top right menu tab. Well worth a look as we head into the warmer months.

* * *
Hop on your bike and head on over to Paradise Books on Friday Oct 4 for the book launch of Changing Gears:
Looking for inspiration about how to simplify their lives, Greg Foyster and Sophie Chishkovsky cycle from Melbourne to Far North Queensland (via Tasmania, naturally). Preposterously underprepared, they are propelled by the many inspiring and eccentric characters they meet – from a forest activist living up a tree to an 18th-century woodsman and a monk walking barefoot through Queensland. Featuring eye-opening encounters with DIY downshifters and leading figures in sustainability, Changing Gears is a jaunty adventure that explores an important question for the future: can we be happier with less?
Click for bigger

* * *

And speaking of bikes, here are some pics from last Sunday's e-bike demonstration:

If you weren't able to make it, you can always contact Sam at Ballarat e-Bikes directly.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Free Pruning Workshop

Come along this Saturday Aug 31 to a free pruning workshop at Rea Lands Park. Community gardener Luke Pither will explain the hows and whys of looking after our budding friends. BYO secateurs.

10:30am - 12:30pm.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Want to get on your bike but think the hills are too tough? Have you thought about an electric motor for your favourite treadlie?

Sam from Ballarat e-Bikes is coming to Daylesford to talk to HRN about the latest e-bike conversion kits on the market.

Sunday September 8 from 2pm-4pm 
at Meg and Patrick's house: 6 Tierneys Lane Daylesford.

If you are coming by car, please park in the Mill Market car park to free up Tierneys Lane for test riding some bikes.

Arvo tea provided.

Hope you can make it.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Eat Your Ethics

Sausage-making workshop
This hands-on class involves cutting, mincing and stuffing a variety of sausages depending on the season: everything from bullboar and bratwurst to fennel, sage or garlic. You’ll never buy sausages of dubious ingredients again. Enjoy a lunch of your very own ethical sausages served with a seasonal salad plucked from the garden, and sourdough bread fresh from the oven.

© Photo courtesy of Kathryn Healey
Sausage-making workshop: Sunday 18 August 2013
Location: Jonai Farms, 129 Morgantis Road, Eganstown
Time: 10.30am – 3:00pm
Cost: $100 per person includes morning tea, farm tour, workshop and BBQ lunch
Bookings essential: 0422 429 362 or

Butchering demonstration
Tammi will demonstrate how to break down half a pig, teaching you where your favourite cuts come from and why we can’t all just eat bacon and ribs. We’ll give you tips on our favourite ways to cook some of them, and finish the day with a barbecue of Jonai Farms ethical pork served with a seasonal salad plucked from the garden, and sourdough bread fresh from the oven.

Butchering Demonstration: Sunday 15 September 2013
Location: Jonai Farms, 129 Morgantis Road, Eganstown
Time: 10.30am – 2.30pm
Cost: $85 per person includes morning tea, farm tour, butchering demo and BBQ lunch
Bookings essential: 0422 429 362 or

* * *

Here are some great pics from the Tread Lightly Permaculture miso making workshop in Ballarat, featuring HRN's miso master, Rick Tanaka. TLP run some really fantastic courses, which you can see here. [PDF]

Photo: Jayne Newgreen
Photo: Jayne Newgreen
Photo: Jayne Newgreen
Photo: Jayne Newgreen
Photo: Jayne Newgreen
Photo: Jayne Newgreen
Photo: Jayne Newgreen

Monday, August 5, 2013

Visionary Visitors

Sandor Katz
Hi folks, we are very excited here at the HRN HQ. We have some talented people coming to visit us over the next few months. Here's a sneak peek:

Sandor Katz, the fermentation guru, is coming to Hepburn at the end of February.
Kevin Tolhurst, Senior Lecturer in Fire Ecology and Management at the Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science, University of Melbourne, and member of the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre will visit September 8th.
Charlie MGee
Charlie MGee, aka Permaculture Ukulele is coming October 29th. With special guests.

Bill Gammage, the Australian academic historian, and author of The Biggest Estate on Earth (2012 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award winner) is coming on November 29th.

We will have more details soon, but for now please save these dates in your diaries.

Stay tuned for more info.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Degrowth & Dirt

Research & Degrowth, (R&D) is an international association dedicated to research, training, awareness raising and event organisation around degrowth. The members of R&D are not only dedicated to the study of degrowth but also see themselves as actors in a process they define as a voluntarily chosen path to reduce production and consumption in order to achieve environmental sustainability, quality of life, freedom and social justice.

With its work, R&D intends to encourage researchers, practitioners, activists and representatives of civil society to jointly develop proposals for a sustainable reduction of growth. In the video below, Federico Demaria and Filka Sekulova of R&D speak about the need for declining growth and about the difference between degrowth and a recession. They also explain how the crisis could be an opportunity to rethink our concept of wealth and to build a society in which we consume less and share more. 
(If you are reading this as an email, you will have to click through to watch the film on the website.)

You can read more here.
* * *

Don't forget our 50th HRN film night is this Thursday: Dirt! The movie with heart and soil. Hope to see you at the Savoia at 7.30pm.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Skate Park Food Garden

A new edible garden is just about to be planted at the Daylesford Community Park (skate park) cnr Duke and Stanbridge Streets and you are invited to be part of it.
Click for bigger

Working bees
Sunday 4th August 2 – 3pm (tree planting)
Thursday 15th August (mulching)
Saturday 24th Aug 2 – 3pm (perennials)

Please bring protective footwear and clothing, gardening gloves and shovels. Dogs are welcome but must be on leads.

Community, social groups as well as school groups and individuals are all invited to join in. Plant donations welcome or drop in at St Mel Cyclery & Café and sponsor a tree of your choice for $20.

For ongoing information about this exciting project visit:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Our 50th Film Night!

Come along and help celebrate our 50th HRN film night, and you just might win a special door prize. Hope to see you there.
Click for bigger

Saturday, July 13, 2013

More Miso & More Movies

We are hosting our third miso making workshop on Sunday 21st July from 10am - 1pm at Melliodora. There are nine places. The cost is $45 which includes all ingredients plus miso soup and salad afterwards.

Our trusty miso master, Rick Tanaka is currently in the Blue Mountains with the only organic miso maker in Australia so that we can have more workshops.

The koji (starter) must be fresh for the best results and it will be ready next week.

This is the last miso making workshop for a while so be quick and book now.

* * *

We haven't had a film for a while but if you are quick you can catch the Unplugged Film Festival online. There are so many to choose from. A few of the films we have screened at HRN film nights so if you missed one you particularly wanted to see, it may be there.

Be warned though that many of the films focus on the problem rather than the solution so don't watch too many of those!! We are the solution when we are stimulated and motivated, not depressed and impotent.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cheap Cheap Cheap

Kate and Bren from Daylesford Organics are downsizing their award-winning flock of chooks and are offering local hen lovers a chance to buy some of their free-ranging certified organic birds. Leghorn crosses (white) and New Hampshire crosses (brown).

All different ages. Buy a couple or a couple of hundred!

Phone 0411 040 412 for more info.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Winter Solstice

Some snaps from Friday night's festivities. Thank you to Zalan and Alexis for the delicious spread, to Michel, Linda and friends for the candles and beautiful ritual, to Anthony for the haunting tunes, to Patrick for the poetry, to all of us for the company and conversation and to everybody who helped in the kitchen cleaning up. What a great way to usher in the start of longer days.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Birth Rights

Even though doctors and midwives know that when women give birth at home, on the whole there are less complications than hospital births, independent midwives across the globe are being persecuted for providing loving care as an alternative to what the medicalised system offers.

On Sunday, over 500 people filled the Daylesford town hall for Family Fun Day: a celebration of birth. There was live music, local food, a magic show, a pop-up op shop, face painting, circus workshops, story telling, craft activities and a silent auction. All proceeds went to a local independent midwife, to cover her legal fees as she fights a bureaucratic system that doesn't understand or value what she does for birthing women and their families.

The afternoon was an enormous success: one community's joyously positive protest for women's rights to give birth in their own way, in their own time, and in their own place.