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2020 Permaculture Design Course Rocklyn Ashram

Friday 21 February – Saturday 7 March 2020

Are you looking to:

  • live a more sustainable life?
  • become less dependent on big business and supermarkets?
  • design a resilient system in the face of growing uncertainties?
  • retrofit your house, your community and your life?
  • meet like-minded people?

The course

A PDC can be a life changing experience. Join us in the unique environment of the Rocklyn Ashram and be taught by a mix of experienced and enthusiastic permaculture tutors including David Holmgren and Beck Lowe.

This is a fully residential, fully catered course running over 15 days with a short break in the middle. This is a completely immersive experience.

The course will be structured around Holmgren’s 12 permaculture principles (detailed in Permaculture: principles and pathways beyond sustainability) and goes beyond land-based design, bringing permaculture to all aspects of human living.

The venue

The course will take place at the Rocklyn Ashram, nestled in the Wombat Forest near Daylesford in Central Victoria. Only a one and a half hour drive from Melbourne, you will feel like you are in another world. Beautiful and quiet, this special space creates an ideal learning environment.

Taking part in the ashram’s daily yoga program can further enhance your learning and enrich your experience. The ashram environment exemplifies and provides an experience of living by permaculture ethics. The serene and spiritual focus of the ashram complements the mindfulness of permaculture practice and reminds us to balance our activity and think with reflection.

At times the ashram program and the intensity of the course can seem challenging, however almost all of the participants comment that the benefits continue long after the course ends.

Read more about the ashram lifestyle here.

The food

Delicious, wholesome and ethical meals will be prepared by Su Dennett and the ashram’s kitchen volunteers. Su will make sure that what you eat meets permaculture standards. Items will be sourced from local organic and bio-dynamic growers in a living example of using and maintaining sustainable food supply networks. You will be served vegetarian meals together with the ashram residents.

The accommodation

Accommodation is camping in the grounds of the ashram. You will need to BYO tent and gear. Alternatively you can choose to stay in a gender segregated triple share dorm room or a private room. Please note, these last two options incur additional fees.

Field Trips

You will visit a wide array of permaculture demonstration sites during the PDC, ranging from urban to rural and large scale to small scale properties. Some were built with permaculture principles in mind, such as Melliodora, the home of David Holmgren and his partner Su Dennett. And some have been retrofitted over a time, such a Tree Elbow, home of permaculture activists, Artist as Family.

House and Garden Tours

It’s great to sit and learn about the ethics and principles of permaculture but it’s on the field trips that it all comes to life. We feel very spoilt that we will have the opportunity to show you around the homes and gardens of the most exciting permaculture properties in the Central Victoria region.

Tutors

You will learn from the co-originator of permaculture, David Holmgren, experienced permaculture educator, Beck Lowe, and a team of excellent permaculture practitioners and tutors. Their depth of practical and theoretical knowledge will make this a very special PDC. There will also be opportunities to socialise with the presenters outside of session times.

Prerequisites?

There are no prerequisites for this course, but it is recommended you read the Essence of Permaculture if you have not yet done so. All other titles and writings by David Holmgren are highly recommended for those who have read Essence already. Please have a look through our online store or visit your local library.

Click here to register your place today.

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The 2019 Venie Prize Winner

Thank you to all the poets who took the time to compose and send in poems to the 2019 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize – we received 192 entries. The content of the poems was beautifully varied: some were engaging, some funny, some sad, delicate, considerate, angry, political, provocative…

A huge thank you to Claire Coleman + Kevin Brophy for judging the Prize, and to Claire for coming along to Sunday’s Words in Winter event where the winners were announced. You can read the judge’s report here.

Without further ado, this year’s winners are:

Winner
Hailey Bonner – God instructs His Angels to Burn the Notre Dame

Commended
Kristen Lang – A Heart Like This
A. Frances Johnson – The Poem After Forests

The Packing Room Prize (as chosen by the Holmgren Design office staff)
Kiara Lindsay – Greengage Plums in Preston

Words in Winter festival co-director Maia Irell welcomes everyone to the Prize presentation.

 

Event MC Cate Kennedy announces the Prize winner and commended poems.

 

Claire Coleman reads the winning poem and two commended poems.

 . .

Kiara Lindsay reads her Packing Room Prize winning poem.

 

A huge thank you to the Venie Prize co-sponsor, Rabbit: a journal for nonfiction poetry, the judges, Claire Coleman and Kevin Brophy, the Words in Winter directors, Maia Irell and Kevin Childs, presentation event MC Cate Kennedy, Jen Bray for taking the above photos, and of course all the poets who saw and felt deeply and sent us their words to read and reflect upon.

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The 2019 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize

Thank you to the 192 poets who submitted their poems to the 2019 Venie Prize.

SUBMISSION ARE NOW CLOSED for this year’s Prize.

In partnership with Rabbit: a journal for nonfiction poetry we are thrilled to announce the launch of the 2019 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize. The specifics are as follows:

Major prize: AUD$1000

All entries must be received by 11.59 pm EST, Monday July 22 2019.
The shortlist and winner will be announced during the Daylesford Words in Winter festival, August 16, 17 & 18, 2019.
The judges for the 2019 competition are Claire C. Coleman and Kevin Brophy.

Entry terms and conditions

1. Entrants must be citizens of Australia or New Zealand or have permanent resident status in Australia or New Zealand.
2. Poems must be unpublished (including online) and not under consideration by other publishers.
3. Poems that have won or are under consideration in other competitions are not eligible.
4. Poems must have an environmental theme.
5. All poems must be written in English. No images, videos or audio files.
6. The winning poems will be published on www.holmgren.com.au and www.rabbitpoetry.com
7. An entry fee of $10 will be charged and is payable via bank transfer, PayPal, cash or cheque. A receipt will be sent as confirmation once the money has been received.
8. The name of the poet must not appear on the manuscript (including the header, footer or file name ) since all poems will be considered anonymously.
9. Poems must be no more than 80 lines of text.
10. Multiple entries are permitted, though a $10 fee applies to each poem.
11. Please ensure you are satisfied with your poem before submitting. Poems that are resubmitted will incur a second fee.
12. The competition closes 11.59 pm EST, Monday July 22, 2019.
13. Selection will be made by the judges. The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.


About the judges

Claire Coleman

Claire G. Coleman is a writer from Western Australia. She identifies with the South Coast Noongar people. Her family are associated with the area around Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun.

Claire grew up in a Forestry settlement in the middle of a tree plantation, where her dad worked, not far out of Perth. She wrote her black&write! fellowship-winning book Terra Nullius while travelling around Australia in a caravan. The Old Lie is her second novel.

Kevin Brophy

Kevin Brophy’s latest book is Look at the Lake (Puncher & Wattmann, 2018), a record of two years living in the Great Sandy Desert. In 2013, Walking,: New and Selected Poems was shortlisted for the WA Premiers Poetry Prize.

He was 2009 co-winner of the Calibre Prize for an outstanding essay; his poetry appears in many Best Australian Poems volumes and in major nationalanthologies. In 2015 he was writer-in-residence at Australia Council’s B. R. Whiting Studio in Rome, and in 2019-20 at the Keesing Studio in Paris. He is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne.


About Venie

Venie Holmgren

In her late 50’s Venie Holmgren began to write poetry and her first published anthology, The Sun Collection for the Planet in 1989, became a poetry ‘best seller’. At the same time, she applied her environmental activist skills and commitment to the campaign to save native forests near her home on the far south coast of NSW, where she was arrested twice for obstructing log trucks. After 16 years of solo self-reliant living she moved to the local town of Pambula where she penned her travel memoir, several more books of poetry and travelled widely as a performance poet. In 2010 Venie moved to Hepburn where she wrote her last poetry collection, The Tea-house Poems. In January 2016, Venie ‘caught the bus’ at the age of 93 .

You can read more of Venie’s life here:
www.theguardian.com/books/australia-books-blog/2015/mar/25/in-praise-of-venie-holmgren-at-92-still-an-activist-adventurer-and-a-poet


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RetroSuburbia Rollout

Retrosuburbia is more than just a book – it is a wholehearted celebration of empowered do-it-yourself and do-it-ourselves culture. With the book now into its second print run, the retrosuburbia team is focusing on complementary ways of getting the ideas out there: we are calling this the ‘Retrosuburbia Rollout’.

Many aspects of the Rollout are already happening spontaneously and organically, such as the book clubs popping up around the country, and the enthusiastic sharing and discussion flowing on the Retrosuburbia Community Facebook page. We also know there is plenty happening under the radar with people quietly sharing ideas with neighbours, friends and family, and leading by example in their own lives.

The retrosuburbia team aims to support and enhance these personal, neighbourhood and community sharing opportunities.

As part of the Retrosuburbia Rollout, David will continue concentrating his efforts on public talks. These talks have mostly been in partnership with local governments, and include the entertaining ‘Aussie Street’, a permaculture soap opera in four acts from 1955 to 2025. As well as spreading retrosuburban ideas, these events inform the general public of council supported programs, and promote local permaculture, transition and other groups as well as book clubs, workshops and courses relevant to the audience. The audiences at these events have so far ranged from 40 to 400, with MCs from local activists and sustainability facilitators to Mayors and media celebrities.

David has also been active in building partnerships with NGO’s, academics, researchers and policymakers to provide the evidence base to substantiate and support retrosuburban strategies and actions, based on their environmental, economic and social benefits. For example, he has recently become an associate of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute and has written the foreword to a new academic book Degrowth in the Suburbs by Samuel Alexander and Brendan Gleeson.

While permaculture educators will naturally adopt much of the retrosuburban agenda and promote solutions relevant to their participants, we believe there are ways in which we can strengthen these synergies, as well as other educational frameworks for rolling out retrosuburban solutions. There are also many community and household level change programmes already running or in the planning stages, mostly focused on climate mitigation and/or adaption and run by local government, transition and other community groups. Further, there are always people just doing stuff at the household and community level without funding or a formal structure, and those that are keen to see uptake in their neighbourhood but don’t necessarily see themselves as educators or activists.

Photo: Phil Hines Photography and Transition South Barwon

To contribute to these types of Rollout pathways, we are running two day Retrosuburbia Trainers and Facilitators Workshops that draw on and expand the material in the book. Rather than creating a set formula, we are using a more open source approach where we share educational tools and resources we are developing and encourage participants to combine this material in ways that make sense for their communities, households and participants. In particular, we want to see established trainers bring along material and resources they have been using or developing to avoid reinventing the wheel. Workshop participants will be free to use our resources in their own courses and to apply to have their own workshops and courses listed on retrosuburbia.com.

Beck Lowe, experienced permaculture educator, editor of RetroSuburbia and manager of the ongoing Retrosuburbia Rollout, will lead these workshops.

In the lineage of self-regulation that has generally worked over four decades of permaculture education, we think that these workshops will:

• enable established educators to connect to colleagues and add to their credentials and curricula to keep them ahead in this rapidly developing field
• help enthusiastic young activists find their feet spreading retrosuburban behaviours and designs through their neighbourhood and networks
• encourage and support householders leading kitchen table and backyard centred activities, including skill sharing, RetroSuburbia book clubs and other small-scale sharings in their neighbourhood.

The RetroSuburbia book, already a best seller without mainstream media reviews, remains the primary vehicle and driver of the Retrosuburbia Rollout. The numerical and financial success of this innovative marketing strategy that bypasses the retail monopolies such as Amazon is critical in showing that we can create livelihoods changing the world for the better while boycotting systems that damage nature and community (see RetroSuburbia: network and community marketing).

The retrosuburbia.com website will continue to expand as a portal of case studies, resources and reviews that amplify the value of the book for householders, trainers, academics and activists. The Retrosuburbia Community Facebook group will continue as the noticeboard and discussion space for all things retrosuburban.

We won’t restrict the free flowing adoption of retrosuburban ideas and have consciously decided not to trademark the term ‘retrosuburbia’, however any attempts by others to capture the branding of the term will be precluded through maintaining our prior and ongoing use. In this way, we aim to combine the value in branding that is available to those associated with the source of retrosuburbia and its deep foundation in permaculture, while at the same time encourage a thousand flowering expressions of these ideas using whatever label, framework or sources of support that others choose to work with.

David Holmgren & the retrosuburbia team, November 2018

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Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary

Samuel Alexander, from the Simplicity Collective has just published a new book, Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary, co-authored with Professor Brendan Gleeson, with a foreword by David Holmgren.

The book addresses a central dilemma of the urban age: how do we make suburban landscapes sustainable in the face of planetary ecological crises? The authors argue that degrowth, a planned contraction of overgrown economies, is the most coherent paradigm for suburban renewal. They depart from the anti-suburban sentiment of much environmentalism to show that existing suburbia can be the centre-ground of transition to a new social dispensation based on the principle of enlightened material and energy restraint.

David’s foreword to the book begins thus:

Historians charting the trajectory of industrial civilisation will note the remarkable disconnect between the status accorded to “evidence based decision making” in our culture and the relentless pursuit of perpetual growth on a finite planet. While the contradiction has always been clear to the simplest of folks, the publication of the Limits to Growth report nearly half a century ago gave us the means to better understand the complex system dynamics that would characterise humanity’s overshoot of global limits.

Because these understandings coincided with the oil crises and resultant recessions, in affluent western countries there was some public discourse, and even early action, to consider the possibility of futures other than ones of continuous growth. On the fringes of society a flourishing counterculture gave birth to lifestyles and concepts (including permaculture) that have been the source of a continuous lineage of creative change. Some of these fringe ideas – such as the internet – have contributed to powerful creative action that has transformed society, whilst others – such as renewable energy and regenerative agriculture – provide pathways promising to manifest transformation now.

You can read the rest of the foreword here.

You can read a review of the book on Make Wealth History.

You can purchase the book here.

As a companion film, here is the latest offering from the talented folk at Happen Films:

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Reclaiming the Urban Commons

We are in the midst of a great shift, a fundamental transformation in our relations with the earth and with each other. This shift poses humanity with a challenge: how to transition from a period of environmental devastation of the planet by humans to one of mutual benefit? How do we transform our relationship to the land, nonhuman lifeforms, and each other? Reclaiming the Urban Commons argues this change begins with a deeper understanding of and connection with the food we produce and consume.

This book is a critical reflection on the past and the present of urban food growing in Australia, as well as a map and a passionate rallying call to a better future as an urbanised species. It addresses the critical question of how to design, share, and live well in our cities and towns. It describes how to translate concepts of sustainable production into daily practices and ways of sharing spaces and working together for mutual benefit, and also reflects on how we can learn from our productive urban past.

                    Reclaiming the Urban Commons:
                    The Past, Present and Future of Food Growing in Australian Cities and Towns
                    Edited by Nick Rose and Andrea Gaynor
                    UWA Publishing, RRP $29.99

David Holmgren’s chapter is Garden Farming: The Foundation for Agriculturally Productive Cities and Towns.
Here’s the opening paragraph:

Australian suburbs can be transformed into productive, resilient and sustainable places to live through garden farming. Growing food right where people live, in back and front yards, has environmental, social and psychological benefits. Garden farming in the household, non-monetary economy is complementary to commercial urban and peri-urban agriculture that, collectively, can be the heart of a resilient bio-regional food system.

You can buy the book here.

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2018 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize Winner

Thank you to all the poets who took the time to compose and send in poems to the 2018 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize – we received 154 entries. The content of the poems was beautifully varied: some were engaging, some funny, some sad, delicate, considerate, angry, political, emotive…

A huge thank you to Jessica Wilkinson + Stuart Cooke for judging the Prize, and to Jessica for coming along to Sunday’s Words in Winter event where the winners were announced.

Without further ado, this year’s winners are:

Winner
Shari Kocher – Ode to Earth

Runners up
Michael Farrell – Nature is a Misreading
JP Quinton – The Dingo Poem

Honourable mentions
Connor Weightman – Plastic Free July
Dennis Garvey – Three Teared Wedding Cake

Thank you to Juanita Broderick for taking these photos from the Prize presentation and sharing them with us:

Jessica Wilkinson + David Holmgren

Shari Kocher reads her winning poem while David looks on

Shari and David sharing a laugh

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Holmgren announced as MSSI associate

David Holmgren has just been named an associate of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute.

MSSI facilitates interdisciplinary sustainability research across faculties and centres at the University of Melbourne, and promotes research in a way that maximises engagement and impact. MSSI emphasises the contribution of the social sciences and humanities to understanding and addressing sustainability and resilience challenges.

David is thrilled with his appointment and looks forward to continuing his working relationship with the MSSI. This is an acknowledgement of the importance of David’s work around sustainability and re-imagining the urban and suburban landscapes.

While the book RetroSuburbia has been successful in engaging those interested in making changes at the household level, David’s MSSI appointment will further his engagement with policy makers and academics interested in working towards a more regenerative future.

David is particularly looking forward to continuing his relationship with Dr Samuel Alexander and Prof. Brendan Gleeson, who have advocated and promoted voluntary simplicity, and sustainable urban planning, respectively.

Other current associates include:

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New Melliodora Tour Dates – 2018/2019

You have a small block of land and you’d like to learn how you can live more sustainably.
You live on a farm with chickens and an orchard and you’re interested in seeing how you can integrate permaculture principles.
You live in an inner-city apartment and you’re keen to see how you can live more in line with your values.

Whatever stage of life you are at, there is no better insight into the ins and outs of how permaculture works on a season to season, day to day basis than to take part in the whole day guided tour of Melliodora.

Situated in the Victorian central highlands, Melliodora is one of the best examples of a cool-temperate climate permaculture property that produces an abundance of food and other yields from a beautiful living environment.

The one hectare property has been transformed from the blackberry covered wasteland in 1985, into a model of small-scale intensive permaculture. David Holmgren and his partner Su Dennett will show you how their passive solar house, mixed food gardens, orchards, dams and livestock, as well as creek revegetation, have been developed and maintained over the last 30 years. The Melliodora garden farming model is most relevant to large town blocks and small rural allotments, but you don’t have to have a large block to gain a huge amount from the tour. All visitors will discover ways that they can apply the underlying principles and strategies to their own lives.

The 2018/2019 Melliodora tour dates are as follows: Sunday September 2, Sunday November 4, Sunday December 2, Sunday January 13, Sunday February 3, Sunday March 17, Sunday April7 and Sunday May 5. The tour begins at 10 am. In the morning you will be shown around the house. We will break for lunch between 12.30 and 2pm. In the afternoon the tour will take you to the garden farm, and the day concludes at 4.30pm.

The whole day tour includes the Melliodora eBook CD: a detailed record of how the house and garden you see on the tour were designed and established, explaining the logic behind design decisions, detailed plans, plant species selection and how it all works together. It is a refresher of the tour, a valuable reference for your own project, and an ideal way to introduce family and friends to permaculture.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience first-hand how permaculture design can help restore and improve land, and provide for residents’ needs and enjoyment.

Things you need to know:

  • Tours can be booked via the Events page.
  • Children are welcome. Parents must take responsibility for them and their actions.
  • Visitors are on the property at their own risk.
  • Please park in our driveway to avoid inconvenience to neighbours.
  • Books and other publications are available for sale on tour days at discount prices. You might like to look at the Publications page of our website to see more information about some of the publications that will be available for sale on the day.
  • Melliodora is a private home so please respect our privacy. Group or private visits can be arranged by appointment.

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The 2018 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the 2018 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize. The specifics are as follows:

Major prize: AUD$1000

All entries must be received by 11.59 pm EST, Friday July 20 2018.
The shortlist and winner will be announced during the Daylesford Words in Winter festival, August 17 – 26, 2018.
The judges for the 2018 competition are Jessica Wilkinson and Stuart Cooke.

Entry terms and conditions

1. Entrants must be citizens of Australia or New Zealand or have permanent resident status in Australia or New Zealand.
2. Poems must be unpublished (including online) and not under consideration by other publishers.
3. Poems that have won or are under consideration in other competitions are not eligible.
4. Poems must have an environmental theme.
5. All poems must be written in English.
6. The winning poems will be published on www.holmgren.com.au
7. An entry fee of $10 will be charged and is payable via bank transfer, PayPal, cash or cheque. A receipt will be sent as confirmation once the money has been received.
8. The name of the poet must not appear on the manuscript (including the header or footer) since all poems will be considered anonymously.
9. Poems must be no more than 80 lines.
10. Multiple entries are permitted, though a $10 fee applies to each poem.
11. Please ensure you are satisfied with your poem before submitting. Poems that are withdrawn and subsequently resubmitted will incur a second fee.
12. The competition closes 11.59 pm EST, Friday July 20, 2018.
13. Selection will be made by the judges. The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.


About the judges

Jessica Wilkinson is the founding editor of Rabbit: a journal for nonfiction poetry. She has published two poetic biographies, marionette: a biography of miss marion davies (Vagabond 2012) and Suite for Percy Grainger (Vagabond 2014). She is currently writing up a third, on choreographer George Balanchine. She co-edited with Bonny Cassidy the Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry (Hunter Publishers, 2016). She is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at RMIT University, Melbourne.

Stuart Cooke is a poet, critic and translator who lives on the Gold Coast, where he lectures in creative writing and literary studies at Griffith University. His books include the poetry collections Opera (2016) and Edge Music (2011), a critical work, Speaking the Earth’s Languages: a theory for Australian-Chilean postcolonial poetics (2013), and a translation of an Aboriginal song cycle from the West Kimberley, George Dyuŋgayan’s Bulu Line (2014). He is the winner of the Gwen Harwood, Dorothy Porter and New Shoots Poetry Prizes, and has held residential fellowships at Omi International Arts Centre (USA), Hawthornden Castle (UK) and the Centre for Art and Nature at Farrera (Spain), among others.


About Venievenie

In her late 50’s Venie Holmgren began to write poetry and her first published anthology, The Sun Collection for the Planet in 1989, became a poetry ‘best seller’. At the same time, she applied her environmental activist skills and commitment to the campaign to save native forests near her home on the far south coast of NSW, where she was arrested twice for obstructing log trucks. After 16 years of solo self-reliant living she moved to the local town of Pambula where she penned her travel memoir, several more books of poetry and travelled widely as a performance poet. In 2010 Venie moved to Hepburn where she wrote her last poetry collection, The Tea-house Poems. In January 2016, Venie ‘caught the bus’ at the age of 93 .

You can read more of Venie’s life here:
www.theguardian.com/books/australia-books-blog/2015/mar/25/in-praise-of-venie-holmgren-at-92-still-an-activist-adventurer-and-a-poet


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