Perma Observation – Applying the Principles of Permaculture to Awareness Through Movement – A Reinterpretation of Wellness

After my uni degree in biomechanical science and some time spent in professional ‘people-care’ practice  in the 90’s using a merge of human movement science and arts (feldenkrais, yoga, alexander, qi qong, tui na, shiatsu) I found as my life moved along and new activities and realities (running a business, having kids) happened the extent of my direct daily application of movement science and arts gradually took a back seat. That said, I always held the passion deep in my heart and constantly drew from this knowledge in keeping centred while living my life.

Over the last few years as I have become interested and indeed now work in the field of Permaculture I have found an increasingly strong connection between the ethics and principles of this inspiring design science and my interest in people care and movement science and arts.

Now in the 2010’s at the age of 42 and after a decade and a bit of diverse and challenging events I have started to apply the ethics and principles of pemaculture to my movement passion. In reinterpreting my scientific skill and interest in awareness through movement fundamentals along the lines of another albeit ecological design science I have been finding some interesting parallels.

If stress or physical limitation has changed your quality of life, before you decide to go to a ‘specialist’ and expend resources (produce no waste) to get specific advice think about your own power (use and value renewable resources & services) to educate yourself somatically (use small and slow solutions) and take a holistic approach  (integrate rather than segregrate).

By slowing down (creatively use and respond to change) and taking notice (observe and interact) how your body functions, you gain feedback (apply self regulation and accept feedback) upon which your nervous system can build enhanced self-awareness and improved functioning (design from patterns to details).

This approach seems to align well with the sort of cognitive approach that I would argue each of us functioning within community needs to adopt in order to develop richness, responsibility and resilience.

It seems to me that this is good permaculture strategy and one based on science that is worthy of further research and development.

Perhaps this embodies a more concrete perma-inspired sense of wellness. One that connects people, projects and places into a more productive whole?


Perma Observation – Knowers, Doers, Learners and the output of Effective Permaculturists

‘Knowers’ think, know but rarely Do,

Knowers learn only based on what they know.

Knowers are non-doing thinkers stuck in their ‘groove’,

‘Doers’ do but rarely think or aim to know. Doers are non-knowing thinkers stuck in their ‘move’

‘Learners’ by contrast learn.

Learners are a holism of the Knower and the Doer.

Learners learn and they do so in a multitude of ways – they feel, they think and they do so as to know and they do to enrich to their learning in order to know more.

Learners understand when to be creative and innovative and within a sense of individual order and structure.

The aim of permaculture and perma teaching should be to increase the output of Learners.

Learners in the above sense are Effective Permaculturists.

Perma Food: Trev’s Blood Dip – Food for the Zone 00 and all the Domains

So Trev’s Blood Dip

…. is a combination of foods groups (root vege, nuts & yoghurt) that when combined not only pack a nutrient dense punch but when prepared slowly and with care for taste and texture are amazing.

slow roasted caramellised beetroot and roasted almond dip.

Nutritionally this mix is good for the production of red blood cells (blood) in the bone marrow. the nutrient and functional food values from the combination of probiotics, trace elements, minerals – especially iron and protein combine to be a very good food for the Blood … hence Trev’s Blood Dip.


  • 2x medium beetroots – slow roasted for 2 hrs until shiny caramellised.
  • 1 cup yr choice of nut (here is almond but could use whatever) – slow toasted until yum smelling, chop into small pieces or grind using mortar pestle if you have time
  • black pepper – 2 tsp whole corns ground in a mortar & pestle – use good fresh, bitey pepper.
  • sea salt – 2-3 tsp flakes or granules (good sea salt has a broad mineral & trace element value) – here i used hawaiian pink salt – alalea sea salt – ‘mineral from the land & sea’ they say
  • fresh yoghurt – 5Tbs – here i made a fresh batch using a pre-set method – the greek yoghurt using this method is super yum.
  • egg mayonnaise  (optional) – 1tsp
put all the ingredients into a blender and mix until pureed
adjust the seasonings if desired.
to serve
bake a fresh bread loaf of bread  (use a wholemeal wheat or spelt flour for a hearty textured loaf).
once baked, let cool then toast the bread until its super crispy. cut into bits
to eat
using a teaspoon serve liberally onto toasty bits.
in between morsels have a teaspoon of fresh yogurt.
drink a cup of piping hot (milky) sweet black tea (or hot bevvy of choice)
Tech Notes for Perma Foods:
  • Foods like my Blood Dip here really do provide such incredible nutrient availability for sustained health & wellness. the nutrient and caloric density of these foods makes good ‘agronomic’ sense. when used amongst a variety of foods, functional food dips like this could easily be used as a low cost big-bang staple to reduce the volume (quantity) of food consumed but also the raise the nutritional value (quality). This could only make sense at the level of the value of soil to the need to feed people.
  • The beauty of living by the People Care principle is that you connect to food and to its value in an holistic manner. Preparing a diversity of nutritious food for ourselves and importantly for others – the people we care about – and importantly with time to enjoy and digest it falls into the Domain of Health & Spiritual Wellbeing in the Permaculture Design System Flower (David Holmgren).
  • By maintaining a balance across the Domains and with a good daily practice of permaculture principles I would argue that the Blood Dip is a food that sits squarely for the Zone 00.

Notepad Observations of Soil at the Edge of an emerging Forest Garden

The Milkwood Food Forest (or Forest Garden) Design which was recently prepared for Milkwood Permaculture Farm by Dan Harris Pascale identifies patchwork areas for forest planning and succession but importantly for preparatory soil observation.

One of my on-farm tasks over the next month is to ensure preparation of access paths and soil in time to support the learning outcomes attached to the Food Forest Design Workshop to be run at Milkwood from Sept 2-4 2010 and facilitated by Forest Ecologist Dan and Milkwood’s Nick Ritar.

This afternoon I cut open 14m of access track into the Food Forest and in doing so got up close and personal with the soil across 3 different patches.

The on-contour path I started work on the Map in brown is adjacent to Patch 3 (the downhill side) and with Patch 1,2 and 4 above it (the uphill side).

I cut firstly in Patch 1 alongside the roadway which is area of established acacias and other young but functional support species and fruit trees. The area also has great protection from the western sun and cold westerly winds provided by magnificent Yellow Box eucalyptus trees.

I then cut through to Patch 2 and then just at dusk through to the middle of Patch 4.

From Patch 1 to Patch 4 the density of tree plantings becomes significantly less with the ground more exposed.

Here are my notes taken in observation of the soil as I cut through these differing areas:

” comment on the soil at the level of the lowest access path –

I am cutting the track open (the FF access path) and mounding the swale out of the material.

  • In Patch 1 the soil is of good quality. it has a red crumb and is moist. It has 5-6 earthworms per m at the established forest end
  • In Patch 2 the soil is still a red crumb but not as moist. It has 3-4 earthworms per m
  • In Patch 4 the soil is compacted and dry. It has 1-2 earthworms.

there are a few rocks of a range of sizes in the ground – hand size to soccer ball.

placing rocks around the beds for thermal mass micro-spots

(Milkwood Food Forest Design courtesy of Dan Harris Pascale)

Organic Market Gardening – Using Small Slow Solutions that Digging Pigs Dig

There is rarely a dull moment at Milkwood Permaculture Farm. One of the many projects under management is the development of the on-farm Organic Market Garden (OMG). Milkwood has experienced a great increase in the level of on-farm logistics and planning needs (inputs) over the last while in terms of food required to host many hungry people. The OMG project and specifically the food produced as an output is aimed at servicing, at least, a good percentage of that need.

In terms of projects, the OMG is an exciting collaboration between Milkwood and Allsun Garden Farm. The project is innovative because it will involve a 12 month traineeship for one lucky candidate who for this year is Stephen Couling as well as series of 3-day workshops to be taught on farm at Milkwood. The collaboration and project aims to get the knowledge and skills needed for viable Market Gardening up and out there.

So the OMG is well underway and is using a nice set of small and slow solutions to meet the challenge.  The 500m2 area of the OMG is now enclosed on the River Flat with an appropriate fencing built with meticulous care by the Milkwood Winter crew. The Design and seed-seedling work is well underway at Allsun and as of this week so too is the soil preparation.  At dusk on Monday 8 Aug 2010 arrived the very noisy, spirited and very hungry ploughs in the shape of 2 rent-a-pig sows courtesy of Ormiston Free Range Pork. Milly (the Black Berkshire) and Sossy (the Large White) are a small and slow force to be reckoned with. Much more interesting and ‘organically zen’ than a noisy fuel-guzzling machine for sure.

This pair of floppy-eared, long-tongued, bucket-mouthed girls have been given the thankful task of tilling and fertilising the OMG site in exchange for a daily supply of sweet fresh rain water and a goodly portion of lovingly cooked whole corn, grain mash, whey and bread. This all in the luxury of a 5-star rawbale shelter. The girls are here for one month and they are well and happily underway.

One of my on-farm tasks is to ensure Sossy and Milly get the deal they signed up to – a daily feed and water. Now I have not had much to do with Pigs but as with anyone charged with the responsibility of food provision there comes with that task a great deal of excitement from the customer. In terms of Milly and Sossy they get super excited when they see me with pale in hand and hose in toe.

Now Sossy the Large White comes apparently from a challenging upbringing and has a few questionable social skills. To me she is sort of like the attention-challenged kid at the soccer BBQ that always has to get the most food and that always has to eat it the quickest so as to get back for more before anyone else.  Compared to her mellow pen mate. Milly, the Berkshire, Sossy has confirmed for me the meaning of the saying ‘to eat like a pig’.

So this over-excited feeding frenzy caused me my first challenge of keeping on-task of preparing the OMG soilscape in the period of one month. The pigs were not spreading their tillage effort evenly. My first few days were spent dishing out their mash in a selection of spots around the pen. But sossy would just bolt around from spot to spot eating like a pig within minutes while Milly would just stay at one spot. No tillage, no tramping.

So yesterday I tried a new trick. I sprayed the whole area with the cooked corn before spreading the mash. Milly and Sossy tramped and snouted for every single piece of that corn (literally every piece) and 3 hrs later were still at it. Their tillage action has overnight been more impressive just from this simple small solution.

So its good to see Milly and Sossy, the transient Milkwood pigs-for-hire, earning their keep and slowly but surely well on the way to preparing the OMG soilscape for food production.

you just gotta love the small and slow solution and you just gotta dig the pig.

(all images courtesy of Milkwood Permaculture)