|Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia|
(projects i'm involved in)
(projects i'm following)
Posted by Leon van Wyk over 8 years ago
I have been on a journey.
It was a mighty journey; where I learned again, the power of community.
I suppose it began a little over a month ago, on Wednesday June 8. When I received an email from my friends Rob and Jules of Bamboo Solutions up in Ravenshoe, Far North QLD. They were notifying me of two 1-day workshops they'd be hosting that coming weekend, facilitated by Michel and Jude Fanton of the Seed Savers Network. I read the email, double-checked dates on my calendar and decided to phone Kym and Georgie at FreeRange Permaculture.
My reason for phoning Kym and Georgie was to ascertain a time\date to visit them and WWOOF (willing worker on organic farms). Because I live on Magnetic Island, I was aware of Rosella Waters, a 6 acre permaculture demonstration and education property in the Tablelands of Far North Queensland but I hadn't yet been there. I had met Kym and Georgie in December last year because I attended the evening presentation by Joel Salatin in Cairns and the 2-day workshop on local food and community he gave at Wheatherby Station in the Tablelands --- Through their involvement with RegenAG, Kym and Georgie were the instigators and facilitators of Joel's visit to the Far North.
Because I already sent a few emails to Georgie about potentially wwoofing at Rosella Waters and I was finalising our plan... this Seedsavers workshop provided a platform to get me into the vicinity of Rosella Waters and as it turns out, because Georgie was attending the workshops as well; I could get a lift with her from Ravenshoe back to Rosella Waters on the Sunday evening. This all fitted together beautifully because it gave me 2 weeks on-site getting to know the family and assisting with the preparatory farm & house work leading up to the PDC.
And the fun begins...
We arrived after sunset and I entered the kitchen to find, standing at the sink washing some dishes, an old friend - Ko - whom I had met when living in West End, Brisbane during my 2-week PDC. It turns out he had arrived earlier that day and would be leaving in a few more so that he could make it up to the Laura Festival.
Over the next 2 weeks I would wash more dishes than I had washed in the previous 2 months... and I regularly wash dishes by hand at home. But it was all good, balanced by the physical work out on the property. Time spent with Kym was always educational, tasks on-site and future plans would always have lessons within the descriptions. We'd make compost piles, turn others, install a hydraulic ram (water pump powered by moving water), theorise about creek restoration, fencing in a chicken run, installing irrigation lines, re-dressing the outdoor shower enclosures, mulch-mulch-mulching, planting; and the list goes on and on...
but we'd consistently be side by side solving problems and moving forward.
In all this I came to recognise how important it is to prioritise what we spend our time and energy on. Kym and Georgie are accomplishing a huge amount for themselves, their family, their community and the state/country. They work together in a range of activities that literally spans all of the scales mentioned above... but they are exhausted.
Kym told me that, "all I really want to do, is be a farmer." I know the state of the world is understood incredibly deeply by Kym and Georgie, I think it is that which compels them (like many of us) to spend all of our spare and not-spare hours on causes greater than ourselves. It is a tight line between working hard, yet comfortably; and working relentlessly.
Hosting a residential Permaculture Design Course is quite a logistical challenge to say the least. And by assisting in as many ways as i could in the 2-week-lead-up to the PDC, I learned a tremendous amount. Not to mention hearing the stories and lessons of past experiences (as this was the 5th PDC held at Rosella Waters). It is a huge commitment in time spent communicating with individuals enquiring about the course and then making sure as the group coalesces that they all receive the right info, payments are made and any complications sorted out. Organising the accommodation is another challenge, and this year Kym had to create a fairly level mulch/compost pasture as a camp site for everyone, as well as designate a car park. The food is another huge responsibility because people need to be fed wholesome food of high quality in order to be healthy and comfortable during the course. Accommodating dietary requirements is all part of an open and welcoming course, but there are limits to what is manageable at this scale.
- food must be ordered and prepared and served and consumed; at the end of line, all wastes must be processed by sanitary means.
Toilets, Showers and Laundry must also be considered.
Anyway, once the PDC was underway the structure of the days and nights was entirely different to the build-up that I was used to. As were the tasks that I was then called upon to achieve. By this stage most of the "heavy lifting" had been done and most tasks were maintenance-based (such as feed and water to chooks, checking and periodically feeding worm farm, peeling and chopping veges in the kitchen, clearing 3x20L buckets of food scraps from the kitchen each day (what wasn't fed to animals was added to the compost pile within a banana circle and mulched), topping up sawdust containers in the compost toilets, changing wheely-bins when full of humanure & urine and sawdust, keeping hand sanitizer liquid available, mulching more gardens, swimming in the river, planting potatoes, etc, etc.
So to wrap up with an account of the after-PDC-party, where once everyone has been certified, there is a performance by each of the participants... musical, hilarious, outrageous, acrobatic and emotional... would be nice. But honestly, words would not do it any justice whatsoever. Trust me when I say it certainly was a night to remember!
I had so much fun and inspiration from interacting with the participants of this course! Whenever a group of 20 people with a common ethic of caring for nature and humanity together, come together, the result is amazing positivity and cooperation, great networking and empowerment, fevered excitement and powerful motivations.
*this account is quite obviously just the tail-end of what was an inspiring few weeks of permaculture, I'd love to put more effort into the descriptions and recount other events that occured but it seems rather than chase a literary blog feed, I've got other things to get on with... so without further ado
I'd really love to shout out a huge THANK-YOU!
to everyone who attended this course, and particularly Janet Millington for teaching, Chef Daniel Matsen for fattening us all on local, healthy and tasty food, and especially the gorgeously generous family of Kym and Georgie Kruze - none of this would have happened without you!
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|Teacher: Geoff Lawton|
|Location: PRI Australia|
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