so recently i signed up to help out the wonderful people of Permablitz Melbourne and do some documenting of their various projects. As it happened, my first one happened to be in the misty Dandenongs, a long two and a half hour drive from home but worth it nevertheless. Here's a little of how the day went. all pics are essentially before, during and afters... x
Arriving down what I’m sure would usually be a pretty low key suburban street, there was already a distant buzz and hum in the air of cheerful voices, tools getting unloaded and directions being handed out accordingly. The calibre of this permabltiz comes as no surprise however as Penne, Wolfgang, Joshua, their family and friends are facing some incredibly hard times with the recent diagnosis that Joshua, their delightful five soon to be six year old son, has developed tumours. As any family would do when faced with news of this category, it seems from the outside looking in that although it is devastating and overwhelming, their response has been one to immediately look at all of their options, become pillars of strength for Joshua and each other and give Joshua every possibility of a recovery. The entire day ran without a hitch due to wonderful organization and preparation. Not only did each area to be built have a specified team leader to oversee the day, but also incorporated workshops on no dig beds/sheet mulching and Hugelkultur, plus an amazing array of homemade foods.
Penne is a PDC graduate of the north and she has used this knowledge/skill set to design essentially a healing garden that from every angle will help and aid Joshua on his path to recovery. The design combines a food forest, an indigenous bush medicine area, a living tipi and secret garden for Joshua, a berry bed, a herb spiral, Hugelkultur area and my overall favourite of the day a ‘food farmacy’. The idea behind this is that next to Joshua’s main play area, there is a huge garden bed that will be full of edible plants and herbs that are shown to be natural aids in stopping the growth of tumours. Wileke, a herbalist and team leader of the food farmacy area provided a wealth of knowledge in terms of herb guilds, the construction of the dig garden bed and overall theory behind the area. Joshua will be able to run up and through this garden whenever he so pleases and eat anything from there, thus providing him with natural forms of medicine in a way that he wont even realise.
The food forest is to be three tiers high that will provide the family with not only organic sustenance but to also provide a sound and wall barrier from the neighbouring properties who sadly recently cleared all of their bordering trees. Joshua’s living tipi and secret garden are also incorporated into this area that will provide him with his very own area of relaxation and escape. The other side of the food forest incorporates the drystone wall and herb spiral. The amount of work involved not only on the day but too in terms of preparation leading up to the blitz is staggering and huge props must be given to Penne and her family.
The Hugelkultur ‘mound culture’ bed area bed lies beyond the food forest and will not only be a vital source nutrients for the garden but will help retain moisture on site, improve soil fertility and drainage but also incorporates the lush bush scape by making the most of the fallen woody debris that would otherwise most likely be somewhat of a hindrance to the site. Dr. Compost provided a wealth of information during the workshop and throughout the day with guiding the Hugelkultur team to get as much done as they possibly could.
As the day drew to a close, all aspects of the garden were well under way with not too much more to be done other than some planting and further sheet mulching, plus some little finishing touches here and there. The food farmacy was entirely finished and planted. It was a wonderful day to be part of with so much positive energy flowing through the garden with over 50 volunteers coming and going throughout the day, its hard not to imagine a beautiful, sustaining, invigorating and beneficial garden growing and flourishing in the very near future.