Monday, April 26, 2010

Permablitz Greensborough

Seedlings in place and awaiting planting

Permablitz: eating the suburbs, one backyard at a time.
What a great slogan! On Saturday I went to my first Permablitz out at Greensborough. A Permablitz is like Backyard Blitz but using permaculture principles. It is very popular, which was good at Greensborough as it was a massive blitz and needed many hands. The site at ACES St John of God Accord is for adults with a disability who are starting a community supported agriculture scheme. They grow and sell vegetables in the local area.
As I've done my Permaculture Design Certificate, I joined Permablitz as a Guild member: I'm one of the permaculture designers. Guild members form a little group to do the design for each Permablitz. It's a win-win-win situation: the Guild members get to practice their design skills, the property owner gets their backyard designed and blitzed for free and those who volunteer on the day get a bit of exercise and learn something about permaculture in the backyard. After the volunteers go to three or so Permablitzes, they can have their own place blitzed. And we
need houses to permablitz: will it be your place?

A prepared garden bed, 1m wide

As I'm a Guild member, I put my hand up to be a team leader on the day. I really, really enjoyed it. It meant I could welcome people, point them in the right direction of what to do and help them learn and share all things gardening and permaculture.
My day as a team leader has really shown me how much I enjoy teaching and facilitating. I really should run workshops and eventually a Permaculture Design Certificate in the future. So I'll be looking into what courses I should do, both permaculture training ones, as well as other mainstream training courses.
After going to many training events over the last five months and helping begin Permaculture Inner North, I'm beginning to know people in the permaculture world and them me. It's a nice to start feeling connected to a community, however large it is.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Seed Saving Workshop

Our Seeds: Seeds Blong Yumi
Over the last few years I've become more and more exposed to the wonderful diversity of seeds. The wonderful treasure they are. And they belong to you and me. Not to multinational corporations. It was your family and my family that selected them, saved them, used them for hundreds of years.
Today I travelled out to Edendale Farm at Eltham. A little gem of a community farm that I never knew about until today. Similar to CERES, East Brunswick, but smaller.
Jude and Michel Fanton gave a wonderful session on how to run a seed saving workshop. They are the founders of The Seed Savers Network and have dedicated the last few years to help set up seed saving networks around Australia and the world.
I saw their uplifting documentary, Our Seeds: Seeds Blong Yumi while I was in Guatemala. I was trying to translate into Spanish for my workmates as we watched it. They were really interested as they could relate. If you want to understand how important to our culture seeds are: have a look. The doco focuses on the Pacific Islands and Asia, but it shares strong similarities to Central America. I'll try and get a copy for myself, soon.
I did the course so that I could build on my skills. I'd like to be able to share the knowledge of seed saving with others in my community. First, I can do a seed saving workshop for Permaculture Inner North. Later I could run seed saving workshops in North East Victoria, amongst other topics. Not that I'm an expert in seed saving, but we all know a little and it adds up.

Monday, April 5, 2010

3rd National Tomato Sauce Making Day

Ok, perhaps not a national day, but it is the third year I have invited my friends around to transform 10kgs of tomatoes into delicious tomato sauce. Like you use on pies. Or homemade sausage rolls. Or with zucchini slice. Or anything. Nothing like store bought tomato sauce and I think so, so much better.

The big day was on Saturday 27 March, but I was too excited about organising the Permaculture Inner North meeting, so I didn't mention it to you.

The day started at 10am and went until around 7pm, I think. Longer than I expected but we were committed to having a great, thick sauce so it cooked for longer than the recipe asked for. There was too much laughter in the kitchen for people to want to go home, anyway. Plus a surprise late arrival of apple pie to spur people on.

It is quite an event as not only do we make the tomato sauce, I set others the task of making pasta (from scratch, using a pasta maker to roll and cut it) and a roasted tomato sauce for lunch. All this is accompanied by a crusty loaf of bread, a simple garden salad, red wine and lovely friends sitting outside on one long table made by my dad years ago. Probably twenty years ago. This is what life is for.

Everyone gets to go home with a bottle of tomato sauce for their efforts.

Here is the recipe for a smaller quantity

Tomato Sauce
  1. 2.5kg tomatoes
  2. 350g apples (about 3 apples)
  3. 1 3/4 cups white vinegar
  4. 250g onions
  5. 1 teaspoon white pepper
  6. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  7. 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  8. ginger, size of the end of your thumb
  9. 1 teaspoon allspice or mixed spice
  10. 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  11. 3 teaspoons salt
  12. 2 cups sugar
  1. Core the apples but don't peel them Roughly cut up apples, tomatoes and onions and place in a large pot with remaining ingredients
  2. Bring to the boil. Remove the lid from the pan. Boil for an hour ensuring that you stir more frequently as the sauce thickens
  3. Blend till smooth with a Bamix, blender or run through a moule
  4. Carefully pour into hot, sterilised bottles. Seal whilst hot