A few days ago, I received my Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) from Milkwood after almost 14 straight days of classes. In between, we had one off day to prepare our personal design projects for presentation and submission, but otherwise, it was a 9-5 day every day. And now that it’s over, I’m a bit sad that I won’t be seeing my classmates very often, but we will continue to stay connected via a private Facebook group that Milkwood created for us.
If you’re wondering what permaculture is, my extremely basic definition is – a holistic design system for managing an ecosystem in harmony with nature, you can find other definitions here. Permaculture co-originator Bill Mollison defines it as “… A philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions rather than asking only one yield of them & of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions,” while the other co-originator, David Holmgren has updated the definition to be “Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs.”
This course was a spiritual experience for me, and probably for most who attended, because we interacted with many gentle, lovely, likeminded people along the way, and the course provided a catalyst for creating change in our lives. Even though I was already open to all the concepts we discussed, the process opened me up further to doing even more for others and the community. I felt recharged after the course and on the last day, we left class on a high note, feeling that there were so many possibilities before us.
Photo by Oliver Holmgren
[PS. If you are having difficulty reading the extended post on your mobile device, please click on “view desktop site” and it should load. Can’t seem to fix this, other posts seem to work on mobiles though]
So the house is finally sold and my boyfriend, Dan, has decided to move closer to Sydney till the end of the year, before his mom looks at buying another property in the Northern Rivers. Sorry for the blurry photo – it was a screen capture from realestate.com.au, the lovely photo was taken by Elders Real Estate. For now, my journey of rainforest/remote living will be put on hold. Fingers crossed that he will move to Sydney for a short stint so that I can do more self sufficiency courses with Milkwood, since there are none in Byron Bay for the rest of the year. Of late, I’ve been extremely keen on fermentation, in particular – water kefir, but I will talk about that another time.
In these last 3 and a half plus years of jetting between Singapore and the subtropical Byron Hinterland, specifically Upper Coopers Creek, I’ve learned a lot about simple living and about the beauty of living with the seasons of nature, something that I didn’t pay attention to much when living in Perth for 7 years, and even less so in Singapore. It’s an experience I love and treasure greatly, being in sync with nature is beneficial to our health and well being, and being a gardener reminds me of this.
Living in the rainforest and off the land is often romanticised but it can be costly and involve more effort than what many people think. Selling Houses Australia – one of my favourite Australian television programmes, shared a surprising statistic about how 50% of city dwellers who buy into country towns change their minds and move back. It’s certainly not for everyone.
While it’s a hot summer in Singapore, I’m experiencing a cool winter in Byron Bay, which I’m visiting for a few days to learn about building natural homes. I normally live 45 minutes inland from Byron Bay whenever I visit my boyfriend in northern New South Wales, and we decided it was best to live in Byron Bay itself at an Airbnb abode.
For a long time now, I’ve been wanting to live a self sufficient existence and have building knowledge, including carpentry, and in recent months, I’ve been obsessing over earth homes and homesteading skills. This is the year I’m immersing myself in workshops of various kinds, and delving into small DIY projects.
Crystal Castle has an incredible cluster of gardens which Dan and I love to visit, and recently they began growing their own organic produce, and created the Shambhala Organic Food Gardens. In the above photo, part of the food gardens can be seen on the left, and towards the middle of the photo is their banana plantation. Yes, that’s Dan admiring the colossal clear quartz crystal.
These inspiring food gardens have plants which include herbs, vegetables, fruits and beneficial flowers. The gardens are attractive and well designed, and inspired me to put more effort into Dan’s edible garden. Some vegetables that I’d spotted here include potatoes, tomatoes, kale, lettuce, collard greens, zucchini.