Permaculture in the Illawarra


Steel Town. Image - John Alevras
Steel Town Storm. Image – John Alevras

I am currently enjoying some time away, so this week we are lucky enough to have a guest post from John Alevras. John introduces us to the “growing” trend that is permaculture and what can be achieved in even the most unlikely of places. When you team up with nature and the systems it has put to such good use all around us, you can create a beautiful outdoor supermarket. With any luck, this won’t be the last we will hear from John as he “digs” deeper into just how this is done. Enjoy, Paul.

Growing up in a heavily polluted steel-producing town, surrounded by heavy industry has urged many of us to search out an alternative way of life and earning a living, whilst trying to minimise our impact on the environment. Witnessing the local primary school closure due to high lead contamination, a cancer cluster at the local high school and a coal fire deep beneath a near by primary school that burnt for almost a decade, creates growing concern amongst those who care about their health, their children’s health and the local environment. The damage is done; the soil, air, water and people were affected.

Where to from here?

Permaculture Gardens

The response by many is to be the change that’s necessary for creating a better future. Small groups throughout the Illawarra take to the shovel, creating the community they want to be a part of and these groups are having quite an impact. You really don’t know who’s watching, one person chipping away can influence others and the ripple spreads a long way.

The local pioneers, spread the knowledge to the community

With a movement in full force, food forests emerge and in places you would have never of thought. The schools I mentioned earlier with the cancer cluster and the fire are now surrounded by the most amazing, diverse, productive gardens. The children develop knowledge, practical skills, and everyone benefits from the locally grown, chemical free food and improvements to the soil. Homes are retrofitted to produce more than they consume and the blocks converted from Kikuyu farms to food forests. Reducing not only the financial strain for these families but the negative impact that they’re having on the surrounding environment.

An old builders tip is converted to natural habitat and a food forest. John growing food.
An old builders tip is converted to natural habitat and a food forest. John growing food.

Community garden groups continue to dig, strengthening their bond and with many years gone by begin to reap the rewards from some of the slower growing climax species. Another group continues with the revegetation of the old builders tip, demonstrating how to transform what would have been a complete wasteland into a lush, productive permaculture site. An urban farm creating fair employment for the community and the growing refugee population sets their roots deep and expands daily, this like many other projects is a must see. The farming approach used by this group and like all the others is to design smarter, manage water, value diversity, share plants, knowledge and grow the resources needed, working with nature not against. These groups form part of an ever growing collective of people who are working towards diverse small-scale farming and localising food production.

The produce is amazing and this place was just 15 years ago a wasteland. No the workers share the rewards.
The produce is amazing and this place was just 15 years ago a wasteland. Now the workers share the rewards.

The message here is, you can create food anywhere and if the soil is not optimal, create your own and use what nature provides to assist you. The systems that build soil, retain moisture and nutrients have been operating for millions of years. All it takes is for you to take note of these systems and interact with them so that they go to work for you.

Until next time.

John, for the Rind Diaries.

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One Response

  1. Great article, thanks John!

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