Our Quick Microclimates Course

Our quick online course on Microclimates helps you create better living and growing spaces with 6 natural energy factors. Boost your use of natural energies to optimise comfort and production. This course shows you how to work with nature to create the best living space. And best of all, your living space will have more natural light and warmth.

Image of sun smiling on a suntrap designed farm with Link to affordable Microclimates course on Udemy
Image of a suntrap designed farm and Link to affordable Microclimates course on Udemy

Description

Our course on Microclimates creates better living and growing spaces with 6 natural energy sources. Boost your use of natural energies and optimise production. This course shows you how to work with nature to create the best living space. And best of all, your living space will have more natural light and warmth.

Microclimates boost the productivity and enjoyment of outdoor and indoor spaces. This course helps create a diverse range of microclimates. It helps you understand what factors combine to create a microclimate. Energy sources and influences create microclimates, we break this down for you. There are key natural energy factors that influence a microclimate. This course explores each factor. Valuing and using sunlight is vital. This course shows your how to create a suntrap. Next up we discover how to harness warmth and store it in different types of thermal mass. Next we use or diffuse wind. Cool elements such as winter wind and frost are also addressed. Finally, we look at lesser known factors such as altitude and geo-thermal influences.

Bananas love shelter from the wind from the hedge behind them. In turn, they shelter a basil crop.

This course also provides design ideas, real-life examples, and ways to communicate microclimate ideas to others. You can create a range of microclimates in your own space: indoors and out. By the end, you will empowered and ready for simple action to improve your lifestyle and growing potential.

Once you know how nature works, you can imitate it. The costs of comfort and production are reduced and our footprint on the earth is lightened.

Here is our MICROCLIMATES COURSE ON UDEMY A Beginners Permaculture Skill

No previous knowledge is required. Get comfortable and ready to improve your lifestyle.

Electric Car Culture Gets Ugly – Occasionally

Electric Cars in Our Wide Brown Land

Recently we bought the cheapest new electric car available. We don’t normally buy new stuff because we know the impact from buying something new. Buying new stuff encourages more manufacturing. However, in this case, we have encouraged affordable, emerging clean technologies.

After all, if we want change, we need to be active in building a better, more sustainable culture. As the understanding of Electric Vehicles [EVs] grows in the community, everyone’s future gets greener.

My dream in the 80s, maybe one day can come true.

Driving a short range electric car requires a major cultural shift. Not since my student days have I lost sleep wondering if I will get safely to my next destination without running out of fuel. Could we be stranded on a long stretch of road with paddocks all around us? Would the local mechanic shake their head and giggle?

Electric vehicles are definitely quiet, clean and fast. They are perfect for city life. But how would a short range EV function on a 2000km journey through our wide brown land that has just flooded and is full of school vacation merry makers? What could go wrong? Who else would be changed by our little adventure?

First up, lets give a nod to the electric car, it’s benefits and quirks.

1. Electric Cars are Fast

A word of warning: don’t try to race against an electric car at the lights with a petrol or diesel engine. You can’t win. Sadly, the old culture of drag racing is now totally unsatisfying. Take off is immediate in an EV and there’s no fuss with gear changes. It doesn’t require precision or skill because there is no gear box.

Different Driving Technique

Unlike the petrol car, there is rarely any need to apply the brake in an electric car unless you genuinely have to stop. All the electric driver needs to do is take their foot off the ‘throttle’ or turn off the cruise control and the car immediately slows down. In effect, easing your foot off the pedal is like engaging a brake. And as the electric car slows down, it recaptures energy. The car’s momentum puts energy back into the battery. Neat.

2. Electric Cars Wear-Out Less

Driving an electric car requires a slightly different driving technique. Driving an electric is very similar to operating a sewing machine or a slot car. The accelerator pedal controls the power almost instantaneously. As a result, the electric car uses the brakes a lot less. So there is less damage to the braking system and less braking noise or pollution.

3. Quiet and Clean

The electric car generates less noise pollution. It is very quiet. Frankly it is too quiet to get through a crowded street. And more than once someone has stepped out in front of the car as if it is a not a serious threat. We need whistles to scare off the pedestrians and wildlife.

It is also very clean. It has no oil except for lubrication. So it generates a lot less pollution on the road surfaces and in the waterways. The cleanliness of the engine will attract a wider range of service providers. Young people will enjoy this technology. And more women will become interested in becoming a EV mechanic. However, because there are less moving parts, there is less need for physical repairs, so they will have less to attend to. Electric cars last longer and very cheap to refuel. It cost us less than $40 to travel 2000kms.

4, Clever

What qualifies something as clever? Conserving energy is clever for the user and their environment. The electric car uses less overall energy because it uses only what it needs. Unlike a petrol engine where the brake screeches off all the power, the electric car captures excess energy and returns it to the battery.

Stay smart and don’t believe everything the car tells you. A healthy range prediction can diminish quickly when a storm hits and you need lights and the demister.

About Those Ugly Moments

Our car has a modest range of only 270kms. So, once we left the first big city, we drove into a power-scarce frontier. There are few charging stations on the road. And not all off the stations are working. Broken charging stations disrupt plans. They ‘upset our applecart’. And during the busy season, the stations were often full. So, we quickly developed strategies to ease the stress.

EV Etiquette

Sometimes the charging stations were occupied and the driver blissfully absent, leaving no indication of when they would return. The best solution was to leave a polite card on the windscreen politely asking them to call us when they return. Take a bunch of cards on your journey.

Some charging stations simply don’t work. Get ready to call the supplier to alert them to this. Be patient with the old ‘turn it off and back on again’ tech talk. Keep your cool by not setting a tight time frame. The suppliers do indeed ‘have you by your short and curlies’.

Get ready for robust parking bay discussions with articulate mature white men. I saw not one other female EV driver on our interstate journey. This is an issue shown a recent paper showing why women are giving up on EV’s in California.

In Byron, whilst waiting for a station to become available, an older gentleman in his EV rolled past. Finally, the charger was free. So, we moved in. But a heated discussion with the older driver exploded.

At one recharge station, debate burst and
sparks began to fly.
Our position as first in line was hotly contested.
But the only evidence I could offer as proof of waiting was my half eaten ice-cream.

Unfortunately, there is no official queuing system. The recharge stations need to be redesigned so that there is space to queue or wait alongside or behind the charging vehicle.

The EV community app called Plug-share has facility to assist waiting users but not everyone bothers to use it. Instead, Tesla drivers have their own app. So, they wouldn’t want to use two apps. But they do like to the convenience of both general charging stations as well as their own. But, really, that is as ugly as it got for us. When the debate was resolved, he calmed down and had a chat. Quick charging takes about 40min and that’s a good chance to walk around the town to avoid the junk food.

Our Rescue Plan

Before we set off we packed a long caravan cord, took a tent and bedding and didn’t book accommodation. We quickly learned not to book accommodation until after we charged the car for the last run. That is super risky during school holiday periods with every family on the roads.

The friendly Chelsea motel in Coffs Harbour was helpful after finding the charging station broken down.

A Friendly Inn

Our next rescue option was to get a motel overnight and ask if we charge with a general power socket. The cheaper motels have friendlier staff. Younger people were keen to support this new technology. They fully understand the need to recharge. They recharge their phone habitually. But few people believe that an electric car costs less than $5 power to recharge.

So we asked for use of an outdoor plug. One high end motels said they didn’t have outdoor plug. But cheap motels usually have a laundry room. Alternatively, we could run the cable outside under the door but can create a trip hazard. Eventually we negotiated to pay the extra fee for the electricity. Then I pointed out that the motel can list themselves as EV friendly they were very happy.

The Last Ditch

When you can’t get a motel with access to a simple power socket, seek a powered site at a caravan park. Plug in to charge you car over night and pitch your tent.

Part of the planning needs to include bringing a hamper with you. Once you are plugged in for the night, the meal options are limited to those within walking distance.

Sun Setting on Petrol Cars

At the end of day, we need to understand and accommodate the needs of Electric vehicle drivers. We must encourage women to become a valuable part of the futuristic culture. Given that women in Australia still earn less than men and take more clean, service roles, supporting cheap electric vehicles ensures that they are more affordable for girls. On the other hand, buying exclusive electric vehicles encourages high end manufacturers to keep making more and more exclusive, unaffordable cars. Steer clear of the exclusive brands.

New cars still cost the earth in embodied energy and lithium mining. If you are considering a a new car, make it an electric. When driven with pride and care and it will serve for generations.

The electric car offers more than transport, they are a battery to extend the use of our solar system. When we charge the car using our modest solar array, we are boosting the value of our solar electricity system by using the excess for the car, rather than pumping it all to the grid. Future cars will permit you use them as a house battery, where you can withdraw power from the car overnight.

Electric cars are more energy efficient and offer a cleaner future. The understanding of how they work and to how better cater for EV drivers benefits everyone.

Convergence Ready For You

a hen looking back over her shoulder as she stands on a peak above a sea of mist

Your Special Time to Breakaway

Gone are the days of hugging and shouting at Convergences, squeezing into a venue to hear a great speaker or being tousled by the crowd to see something amazing.

Fortunately, the Australian Permaculture Convergence is bravely holding space for you to participate in something amazing. The program is loaded with diversity and interesting discussion. Every convergence needs diversity. And best of all, your enthusiasm counts.

This is all the space this participant had, using grey water for a garden." Rowe Morrow speaks on Wednesday 
Outcomes from teaching Permaculture in 10 refugee camps
“This is all the space this participant had, using grey water for a garden.” Rowe Morrow speaks on Wednesday
Outcomes from teaching Permaculture in 10 refugee camps

If you live in Australia, here are 5 great reasons to buy your tickets, pack your bag and venture out again. The time is ripe in Australia. The scene is set for a great convergence.

So, come along to celebrate natures abundance – 12 April to 15 April 2021

Maybe you have become quite comfortable with staying at home. Here are 5 good reasons to make a special break and converge once again.

Cleverness is limited to working with the miniscule known - Quote from Stuart Hill

1. Broaden Your Reach

The best reason for going to conferences is to meet with likeminded people and peers on a level footing. Convergences bring together people from all different climates and experiences with common needs and discoveries. They are a great way to meet new people and get a feel for how other people respond to challenges.

As usual, the permaculture convergence will welcome you to sit with people from a wide range of backgrounds and experience. As you build new connections you can reconnect with people you haven’t seen for a while and discover where their dreams led them. In fact, each convergence can feel like the chance to open a time-capsule full of inventions and ideas.

  • Linda Woodrow, Author of 470 presents – Imagined Futures: The role of imagining in creating the world we want
  • David Holmgren – Permaculture and the climate emergency in the Australian context 
  • Robina McCurdy – Empowering Bioregional Food Sovereignty
  • Stuart Andrews – Natural Sequence Farming 
  • Starhawk – Earth Activist Training

2. Convergences Expand Our Mindset

You will hear a lot about new approaches and techniques, learn from elders and listen to the newest faces starting out in Permaculture.

Bunya Halasz –

Bunya Halasz - Successional Agroforestry – an Exploration of Humid Tropical and Subtropical Systems

Successional Agroforestry – an Exploration of Humid Tropical and Subtropical Systems 

Of course, convergences give us the opportunity to ask presenters questions about their work and the rationale behind it, which you can’t do when reading journal articles or watching a video. As a result, convergences are authentic and interactive.

  • John Champagne, Jed Walker and the Permafund team – Permafund – microgrants for community projects worldwide
  • Michael Wardle – Trees, their needs, and the myths of dynamic accumulators
  • Virginia Solomon – Designing Permaculture Jobs
  • Andrew Pengelly – Bush Medicine Walk – Wednesday W2
Dianella Mt Kembla public walkway
  • Shane Sylvanspring & Trudy Juriansz – Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) principles and Permaculture principles
  • Tim Barker – Appropriate Technology for Resilience 
  • Tom Kendall- Design elements of a functioning biodigester in Australia
  • Charlie Brennan – Sensing Place – hearing trees and rivers
  • Robin Clayfield – Growing Community – Abundant Tools for Dynamic Groups, Effective Collaboration and Empowered Action
Davidson plum flowers

3. Collaborate

You don’t have to be a formal presenter, you talk to people about what you are doing, share ideas in workshops, add energy to a group or get feedback with a mentor over lunch. Talking about what we do with others offers ideas and energy to future generations.

  • Robyn Francis – Fair Share in the Anthropocene,
    Emma Brindal – Fostering Earth Care in folks of all ages,
    Fionn & Laura Quinlan – Families in Transition – Sharing Land & Visions,
    Nick Radford – A Permaculture Language,
    Shaoying Wang & April Sampson-Kelly – Designing a Chinese Village with Permaculture
  • Mark Jones & Billa Lauiti-Kolkr – Working with First Nations Custodians- a Discourse for Permaculture Leaders
    Erin Young – Sociocracy: Shared Leadership for Positive Impact
    Helen Schwencke – Inviting Nature to Dinner – How to grow food and support the little guys ( with Dick Copeman)
Lizzy Smith talks about Risk Management
Lizzy Smith – Risk Management for Permaculture Projects 

4. Convergences help us Smile

“It isn’t work if you’re having fun” said a great environmentalist lecturer Ted Trainer. Creative energy is vital for innovation. And Permaculture is always innovative. Our designs relate to the here and now as well as planning for next generations. It is here that we can enjoy the challenge of building a cleaner future for all. As a result, our interactions at convergences help pioneer our Care of People practices.

  • Victoria Holder – Hidden permaculture in hospitality & why you don’t know about it
  • Dominique Chen – Decolonising Food Yarn
  • Jane Milburn – Permaculture your wardrobe
  • Ko Oishi – Northey Street City Farm – 25 years of design exploring opportunities and constraints
Ko Oishi - Northey Street City Farm – 25 years of design exploring opportunities and constraints

5. Synergise

Many minds make light work. The exchange of information during a convergence bears many fruits and build a brighter future.

  • Dick Copeman – Responding & adapting to climate change – a permaculture perspective
  • Morag Gamble – Permaculture Education Futures
  • Elisabeth Fekonia – Ferment your Food 
  • Carly Garner – Inspiring NextGen Earth Stewards
  • Megan McGowan – Permaculturing our Permaculture: A case study
  • Beck Lowe – Retrosuburbia 101

‘So why attend? Can’t I read about the convergence later or watch the video?’ Well you might ask. In truth, a convergence is something that you feel, see, hear, taste and interact to enjoy. In the end, it is like going to the beach. You smell and hear the surf, you feel the rush of cold water and sand goes everywhere. After all, a video of the ocean never feels the same as being there.

For those of you who can’t attend. We will keep the team spirit pumping. For those of you who are packing already – See you there!

Engage Nature – Learn to Prosper

painting of a mother Koala and fire burned joey awakening the god of Mars with a conche. Wake up call for humanity.

Engaging nature supports our health and the creatures that surrounds us. Learning how nature creates and supports life is a great guide to help society prosper.

Nature is persistent and collaborative. It creates systems that support diverse users. There are lots of side-projects happening. To the human eye, it often seems chaotic and intense. But nothing is wasted. And the power for growth is exponential, pushing all the boundaries.

With wisdom , humanity retreats from destructive industrial systems that pollute, over-heat and disrupt nature. And the healthier options are winning. We have discovered alternative production systems that harmonize with and benefit from nature’s powerful forces.

2004 then 2021 regeneration by capturing rainwater and encouraging worms – our site, Mt Kembla.

“In the slider, I stand in an orange hat with a good friend Sister Mary Darcy in 2004. At first we covered an area of compacted subsoil with a layer of cardboard. And we created a border of reused bricks and covered the cardboard with grass clippings and fallen leaves. We made little pockets of soil to hold pioneering plants such as parsley, garlic chives, flax, bromeliads native raspberries and strawberries. After a couple of years, the cardboard broke down and new elements were added including a tyre pond which is now covered in plants and protects frogs. We also added quick growing shrubs such as Tamarillo, Jabuticaba, passionfruit vines, chilli bushes and a few small trees such as jelly palm and lemon tree.

Sr. Mary is gone now but her legacy lives on. My hat is red and our son’s dog visits to keep eagles away from the chickens. The chickens are unseen in the bushes. Most notably, the edges have moved back to allow more room for people to use the space. Yet the growing area is more productive because the initial flat area has become a complex vertical space with many layers.

April of PermacultureVisions.com

Admire, Analyse and Engage Nature

Unlike most man-made factory systems, nature is more complex. This makes it tricky to understand and work with nature. Mankind likes to streamline and focus on one idea at a time. Nature seems chaotic, experimental and wild.

Most education is reductionist, studying special parts. Few of us get the chance to put parts together, step back, and admire a whole system.

In Permaculture, we try to start with a wide lens of ethics and respect for systems. Within a bigger-picture- framework, we examine how the parts work and interact. First up we read the wider landscape. Then we consider the details ie. water channeling or soil enrichment.

Michael ‘Skeeter’ Pilarski on building an uplifting spiral of understanding and respect

In theories about systems, there is the acknowledgment that a system has a power that can be greater than the individual parts. A good example is a human body. Each human is different. Whist the systems are very similar from one to another, they are in different states of wellness, growth, and stability.

Same, Same, Different Nature

Likewise, even natural systems with similar parts will be in different states of health. Some systems are degrading due to natural or man-made pressures such as fire or erosion. Other natural systems are overridden by a dominant species such as weeds or feral animals.

Some natural systems had lost important parts such as top predators. As a result, destructive browsers thrived.

Furthermore, the exclusion of heavy browsers from fragile key elements of the system in degraded landscapes builds diversity.

https://www.basscoastlandcare.org.au before and after shots
https://www.basscoastlandcare.org.au landcare in gullies photo by Lew Potter

Dynamic and Optimistic

In natural systems, the sum of the parts is a constantly changing sum. It is a moving, dynamic balance. A dynamic balance is different from a static balance. We experience a dynamic balance when we stand on a balance board or ride a bicycle. Whereas we create a static balance when we stack pebbles on top of one another.

Without the ability to adjust and find balance, the system collapses. Sometimes some of the elements within the system emerge to take advantage of the changes and create a new balance. Life is ever hopeful and new systems emerge. Over time, the sum declines. Diversity of life wanes. And our options fade.

In a permaculture systems, we use nature to create a system that helps people prosper by providing clean water, air, food, and shelter from harsh weather.

Harmonize to Engage

Mankind is a powerful industrial entity. Yet, mankind is also a vulnerable natural being. We often use selfish reasons to divorce ourselves from nature citing natural disasters and pandemics. But the simple choice to maintain natural systems nurtures our supportive world.

Vandana Shiva urges us to value diversity and look beyond mechanical solutions.

We all benefit by supporting and co-existing with natural systems. Rediscovering our love of nature, and building admiration of complex systems will enable us to design for balance and a sustainable future.

Vandana say “Diversity doesn’t mean exclusivity – It takes a bee and a flower to create life…We are interbeings with all creatures, we are not supreme beings.” Realising that we are part of the web of life will preserve diversity and our part of it.

Relinquish Control – Set Nature Free

In the end, the hardest part of working with nature is relinquishing control. Honest engagement shows trust. Letting go, gives us the chance to watch and learn.

Learn how to see. Realize everything connects with everything else” Leonardo Da Vinci

Koalas officially near extinction due to climate change and deforestation.

Learn more about Permaculture Design with us.