Thursday, May 9, 2013


I went to Australia to study permaculture, spending most of my time in southern Queensland. Queensland and the province to the south, New South Wales are a hotspot for Permaculture activity, with the Permaculture Research Institute nearby as well as the first intentional Permaculture community, Crystal Waters.

Eventually, I ended up at Symara Organic Farm where I stayed for just over a month.
Symara is a market garden in Stanthorpe, Queensland. The owners, Ray and Sam, are keenly interested in permaculture and generously open their home to many people. When a group of permaculture students ended up at their place in November, 2011, we were all excited to practice some permaculture design and add something to the property.

After many drawings and discussions, we focused on an area near the house, which used to be a chicken yard for many years.

Proposed design. No doubt the plan will evolve in later stages.

Implementation began with removing the old fencing, and clearing the site. This included a lot of rock moving! Fortunately, Ray and his chain made it possible to move some of the larger granite pieces. The holes in the ground suggested ponds and convenient holes to fill with some compost and plant a cucurbit that could cover the area and out-compete a lot of the current volunteering plants.

Although we three permaculture students were only visiting the farm we decided to implement part of the plan by constructing the reed bed for the grey water system coming out of the composting toilets. In a few days we constructed a ferroconcrete reed bed. 

The reed bed was reported as working well as of April, 2012 and had apparently grown a great crop of tomatoes with the outflow!

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