The story so far

Tamara left Bunyip in April 2009 seeking what she needed to know for her permaculture future. She spent 9 months at her Aunt Catherine's farm in Arid South Australia, then 9 months at Bill and Lisa Mollison's farm in Tasmania. Now she's off on more adventures starting Moonrise School of Permaculture and teaching Permaculture Design Courses in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne. Ducky is there for the journey...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Permaculture Design Certificate Belgrave 2013

With Tamara, Taj, Ducky and friends

Taj is back from her permaculture research trip overseas and we are living the dream in the beginnings of our permaculture home in the lush animal filled forests of Belgrave! We are running our courses from our one acre blank canvas which is ready for students to aid us with design and implementation of swales, food forests, multi zone gardens, chooks, ducks, and much more (the field is open to the intelect).

Taj and Tamara’s awesome upcoming courses:  

The first is a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) running weekly on Saturdays from the new home of Taj and Tamara, in Belgrave. This is a more intensive weekly course that will allow people with weekends off to spend the whole day learning with us. We are extremely excited to share our new home and garden with our students, where we will teach the full 72hr internationally recognized PDC. 

This starts on Saturday January 19th. It then runs until April. The days start at 10am and we finish at 5pm. We have a shared lunch and shared morning afternoon tea (this keeps the price down for everyone).

The second PDC starts on January 16th and is running on Wednesday nights from 6-9.30 with a shared dinner. The amazing Taj will also be doing some cooking - possibly even acorn bread!!!

There are other PDCs coming up, and we take requests!!!

Getting there: We are in Belgrave, up behind Puffing Billy. We are walking distance from the station, but it is a very steep walk and you'll need to be fit! We are very happy to pick people up from Belgrave train station. People can also drive and park on the road. We'll give specific instructions to confirmed students.

For the Saturday course we will pick you up provided you get the train that arrives at 9.09 at Belgrave - (Lilydale train leaving Flinders St station at 7.47 and changing at Ringwood). Eek! Thats early - but we'd like everyone to arrive by 9.30 so we can start on time at 10am.

There will be more PDCs and other courses on offer, please contact Tamara for information:

$600 waged
$400 concession
$300 for a second person - friend, family or partner.
*concession is for people who are unemployed, underemployed, are students or on a pension.
** Anyone can pay in installments if necessary, please email me to talk about it

Come and join us on our fabulous permaculture adventure!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sunday Permaculture Breakfasts in Upwey

The sunday permaculture breakfast in Upwey has been going for over a year now and has gathered a pace all its own. People come and go throughout the day - I get home around 3pm (with a sore throat from talking all day) but most people come between 9.30 and 11.30.

If you walk into Magpie Cafe in Upwey at 10.30 on a sunday, the place will be packed, you will be warmly greeted and found a place at the sprawling permie table. Many great friendships have been forged over coffee and free range eggs, and Ducky looks forward to seeing his special adult and children friends as much as they look forward to seeing him.

So how did we start it? Last year some of the Upwey permaculture and Transition Town people took the train to the Lantern Parade in Belgrave and had dinner afterwards. We enjoyed each other's company so much we decided to meet for breakfast the next day. We never thought it would become such an important part of our lives or lead to the formation of the Ultra Local Upwey Permaculture Group, permablitzes and PDCs. 

Here are some ideas for starting your own permaculture breakfast:

1. Choose a local cafe that shares your permaculture ethics - care of the earth, care of people, share the surplus, Magpie Cafe in Upwey has mainly organic ingredients, makes most things from scratch and uses free range eggs and bacon and good coffee and is where most of us ate or drank already. Members of its staff were studying permaculture and are deeply concerned with community. Use the same cafe every week.
Note: A public place is a good idea - it means that no one has to keep their house tidy for guests and it is always at the same place even when people are away. It is also easier to invite people along to a cafe rather than someone's house. 

2. At least one person needs to be at the cafe until numbers start to increase. This means the commitment of one or two people to carry the weekly event. There were several weeks when the weekly breakfast was myself and one other wonderful woman, Michelle Jones, and sometimes it was only one of us. We had a mascot for the table (a chook) and anyone who walked in looking a bit scruffy were asked if they were here for the Permie Breakfast. After a month or two there were three or four people who came every week and the commitment became friendship. This time might be shorter if you already have a permaculture group in your area.

3. We set a time frame of one hour - 9.30 to 10.30. One of us was always there during these times.

4. Have two or three contact people, sometimes we are busy or even out of the country!!! Share the load. 

5. We let people know with a poster on the pinboard in the cafe and in other places in Upwey. The breakfast now grows mainly through word of mouth. Whenever we meet awesome people we'd like to get to know better we just invite them to breakfast :) We have also had our events up on facebook and we now have a page for the local group. Add people to an email list and send them out info.

6. We meet weekly. Friendships are formed much faster with weekly contact, even a very short hello once a week will create connections faster than a monthly meeting (I do support monthly meetings, they are fantastic too). This is all about creating a human ecology of regularly maintained connections.

7. Tell the cafe what you're doing - they will hopefully like the idea, and be able to staff for it when it becomes larger, but more importantly they will tell people about the breakfast.

8. Have fun. This is a social day with no commitments whatsoever. Make it clear to people you invite that it is just breakfast. No one needs to join a committee or is roped into work. This is a commitment free permaculture breakfast. People can come as often as they like. Some people will come weekly and some will come monthly, some will come once or twice a year. Tell people this is okay. There is no need to commit to regular breakfasts - they are just a place to come and meet like minded people and then go home again feeling happier for the contact.

9. If you want to grow your group or breakfast or community quickly, run some free courses. Run a free introduction to permaculture or two full Permaculture Design Certificates (PDCs) like we did. Its a fast way to increase the number of permies in the area and start effecting real change.

10. Have an animal mascot. If your cafe has an outdoor area, have a favourite chook or duck that people and children will want to see. It helps other people in the cafe get to know about permaculture too. Ducky comes every week and there are people that come just to see him.
Ducky is the star attraction at Upwey sunday permaculture breakfasts
11. Be prepared for the friendships you will form. You may never feel alone or different in the world again. The breakfasts have become an essential part of my weekly routine, my life and my sanity. The people in our group have been tremendously supporting to each other. We have started many community projects just by chatting over coffee. These friends have helped me start teaching PDCs, I know that without them it would not have happened. So thank you Upwey permies, I LOVE YOU!!!

Good luck everyone!!! These are just my points, other people in the group will probably have more to share - its been an amazing group effort!!! Send us any ideas or comments you have - or how you go with your own breakfast!!! 

Love Tamara and Ducky xxx qqq

Friday, April 27, 2012

Duck connections... the circle connects!

Remember my first ever post - about meeting duck people in Tassie - in 2010? Have a quick look via the link below...   then come back!

Well, today - I met one of the people in that story, here in Upwey!
Here is Stephen's post of the same evening!!!!!

I find it amazing when a line becomes a circle and comes back to its beginning! 

Here is Kevin's web page - he's an awesome wildlife artist, photographer and environmentalist.

Fabulous! And 5 quacks from Ducky!!!!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Making a right livelihood in Permaculture! My first PDC with paying students!!

May 5 Upwey Permaculture Design Course
with Tamara and Ducky

I am so excited - and slightly afraid - I am running my first PDC with paying students!! 
It is starting May 5 - just before National Permaculture Day!

I finished my Upwey Tuesday Free PDC class last week. Here is our graduation day pic!

To qualify for graduation the students had to do two designs, one of an urban property and one of a village or community. The designs of presented on this final day were absolutely amazing.

I was so proud, and graduated nine terminal permies!!! 

I had so much help and inspiration from Taj Permapixie, Delvin Solkinson, Ali Ma, Robin Clayfield, Rosemary Morrow, Pete the Permie and Silvia Allen, Michelle Jones, Pepo Dib, Ed Adamthwaite and my friends in the Ultra Local Upwey Permaculture Group. Thank you so much! 

My students were incredibly supportive as well. The food they brought was wonderful! They were very good humored about my creative teaching methods and fell in love with Ducky (of course), bringing him worms and snails for snacks.  

Thanks to Lucy, Rob, Mary, Liz, Larry, Sarah, Brooke, Asha and Faye. What a great time I had!

I did Ducky and I a certificate - to remember the day :) Mum took this one for me Tuesday evening :)

Here are the details of the upcoming course! Hooray! 
Please share with your friends - help all of us earn a right livelihood in Permaculture Education!

Permaculture Design Certificate Course ~ PDC
with Tamara Griffiths and Ducky

and Melbourne’s new generation of permaculture teachers, all of which are being paid: 

Taj Permapixie (last semester of APT diploma of Permaculture), 
Pepo Dib, (Permaculture Mexico)
Mys Tee (The California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture - Cal-Earth),
Michelle Jones (Transition Sherbrooke, Friends of Upwey Tecoma Community Orchard and more), 
Sarah Gorman (Sustainability Victoria, and fellow Planetary Permaculture Pilgrim), 
Seila Hierk (Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program), 
Angelo Eliades (Forest Garden creator, permaculture educator and author), 
more guests will be announced soon…

Starts May 5
running over 12 saturdays at permaculture places around Melbourne

$400 concession
$600 waged
Couples - second person - friend, family or partner gets place for half price.  
I am committed to making permaculture sustainable for couples.  

The PDC is an internationally recognized, 72 hour course resulting in a Permaculture Design Certificate.

Moonrise Permaculture ~ Tamara Griffiths
0407 45 7707

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Teaching 2 free PDCs - 3 months on from the Permaculture Planetary Pilgrimage

The teaching journey has begun! 
I wrote this post 6 weeks ago - but didn't have time to post it, I've been so busy teaching!!! 
"Teaching a PDC, feel the fear and prepare like mad"
Tonight is the night! Taj and I are starting our first ever PDC class and we are stoked!!! We've been preparing like mad for the course that starts tonight (6.30 - 9.30) and for a second class that starts on Tuesday (10.00 - 5.00). Of course all the years leading up to tonight have been paving the way but the immediacy of the class has us putting our final consideration in the order of things tonight. Its actually very interesting running a 3 hour a day course and a 6 hour a day. The 3 hour course has to cover the same stuff as the 6 hour but the punctuation of highpoints is different. People have to say "Wow I learned something really important" in 3 hours rather than 6 - and getting to know each other in the group at the same time.  
In the planning stages of our teacher training extravaganza last November, I knew that the Planetary Permaculture Pilgrimage would kick my backside into finally teaching a Permaculture Design Course. Having come through it, I was galvanised to teach but I finally also had the confidence to jump in and go.  The next step to all these trainngs is to teach a pdc. Delvin has already taught full PDCs - he runs them over the space of a year and I realy love his model. I have decided to start with two courses runing in parallel: 3 hours on a thursday night and 6 hours on a tuesday starting at 10am - early enough for me!
And now:
I'm about 6 weeks into teaching two free PDCs, so 3 weeks off completion of the Tuesday class - but I am really starting to enjoy myself and am getting good feedback too. I had both classes come to learn with guest teachers yesterday, it was great!  Ed and Michelle are local permies and are part of our Ultra Local Upwey Permaculture Group. Almost all of us in the group live within walking distance of Upwey township - and where we have our classes. Ed taught a class on "Catch and Store Energy" and Michelle spent the rest of the day helping everyone learn about community, invisible structures and social mapping. I helped out with some scribing of the brainstorms and facilitating the group work late in the day. 
Here are some pics of Ducky joining in - he has been great for breaking the ice and he helps us with our morning warm up - some of you will have seen the 'tricks' Ducky does when people throw their hands over their head, its silly, fun and I love it. 

Here he is helping us learn about patterns. We're using Robin Clayfield's pattern card deck. Create a niche and something will move in - Ducky moved into the middle of our starburst pattern to demonstrate how energy moves. I didn't even need to ask him!!

I've been using lots of creative ways to get heavy factual information across. Luckily these courses are free because it doesn't work every time and I've changed processes when I've seen it wasn't working with the group. 

I've discovered I'm much better at creating processes when I'm with other people - Robin Clayfield ran her course down here again and I went to two days - a very good reminder for me and I noticed how I like to create with others. I've had this one woman band thing in my mind for so long - like Bill Mollison and Rosemary Morrow, but really, teaching overseas will be much more sustainable and less lonely with other people.

I've noticed I have 'learning gaps' as well. Geoff Lawton's idea of getting the diagrams down pat was good advice. I need to work on getting them right, and using them to best effect.

I see this as the beginning of something incredible, and I just know where we'll be in 5 years! I very much enjoy co-facilitating, and I've had Taj a few times and again in a few weeks. I taught how to eat acorns after Taj and I found each other last year! Here is her blog:

I'd also love to hook up and do a PDC with my PPP cohorts - Ali Ma and Kathleen are both in New South Wales. It would be awesome to do a women's PDC with them - we are in early discussions on doing some stuff together. I feel truly grateful that I had these friends to do the PPP with - and to now have us all on the same page, passionate and throwing ourselves in. Support on the adventure is so important.

I can't say how happy I am to be teaching, my students are amazing and this is the happiest I've been for many, many years! I'm actually amazed I've managed to run 2 PDCs! I was pretty exhausted there for a month or so - I'm 6 weeks in on both classes and I've had huge support from my PC community.

The amount of commitment and effort the students have put into a free class has been extremely heartening. Mary in the Tuesday class has taken it upon herself to create a blog for the class notes! Love your work Mary! (Mary also made a valentines day card for me and ducky - so at least I got one!)

I'm starting a new PDC on the 21st April here in Upwey. Class size will be limited to 12.
I'm trying to keep costs reasonable so it is as accesssible as possible:
$800 business or government or corporate 
$600 waged 
$400 unwaged/concession with a concession card
Both scholarship places are already filled

Now that I have been teaching for 50 hours, I can apply to the Permaculture Research Institute for registration as a PRI teacher. See the links below.
Resources for emerging permaculture teachers

How to process acorns

Acorns are fantastic! They are full of nutrients, are a complete protein and are full of good fats (about 30%) and high in carbohydrates. They are also high in folate! They taste delicious once all the tannins have been removed (by leaching into water). And, for the most part - they are free if you live in a temperate climate! 
I started this post last year - at the start of my acorn journey:
Its early autumn here in Melbourne and the acorns are ripening and dropping off the oaks. I've wanted to try eating acorns for a few years now, but some oaks only have acorns every other year and that was the case last year in Tassie. Imagine my glee last week when I found a huge oak tree at Eltham College - where I was doing an awesome course with creative permie Robin Clayfield. I got some help to pick up a couple of kilos and promised acorn biscuits to the group. Unfortunately, acorns take alot of processing, particularly to get the tannins out. It took about 5 days for me to go from acorn to edible mush ready to cook with, too late for the course but not too late to try it out on my unsuspecting parents. Well actually they were suspecting, I've tried stuff out on them before.
How to process acorns
Acorns are delicious and good for you once the tannins are removed. 

Peeling raw: Tamara's method 1
if you use a nut cracker you can get into the peeling groove - I often do it while watching Dr Who or the like.
Then I grind up the 'nut' and wash in water. Drain through a tea towel in a colander. Wash with water a few times a day until the tannins are removed - the tartness disappears. Will have a grainy texture once dried.

Peeling raw then boil: Tamara's method 2
Peel the acorns in their raw state and remove any dodgy bits. Place the nuts into plenty of water and boil for 10 minutes. Lots of tannin should come out. Drain and boil again. Repeat until the tannins are gone and the nuts taste good.

Boiling method: Taj's method 1
If you boil them for 10 mins in plenty of water, drain and boil again for 10 mins the shells should come away more easily. Drain and discard all the shells. Continue to boil the acorns until all the tannin is gone. Can take many boils. Will be soft and silky when wet and smooth when dried.

This last week I used a method that is about halfway between Taj and my methods. It made the best bread ever. Probably the easiest of all the methods here :)

Boil, grind and rinse: Tamara's method 3
If you boil them for 10 mins in plenty of water, drain and boil again for 15 mins the shells should come away more easily. drain and Discard all the shells. Put the 'nuts' in a food processor and pulverise. then I drain them using a tea towel in a colander. Do this rinse as many times as it takes for the pulp to lose its tannins - that tartness. I do this outdoors near a tap and drain into buckets I use for watering. Mine normally takes about half a week if I'm washing them at least once a day :)

Dry or cook:
Once the tannin is removed you can dry the pulp in the sun or the oven, or use wet in a bread or pikelet straight away.
Acorn piklets -  beat an egg, acorn flour, maple syrup, baking powder and cook! Serve with maple syrup for a perennial tree based feast! Very Permaculture!

Link here to my youTube video making acorn bread, using flour from all of the above methods!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not pick the acorns from the tree. They are not ripe, they are bitter and won't open even when you boil them forever!!! These things we can learn only from getting out there and experimenting!!! Get to it people!!!!!

FINALLY: I found an acorn that requires no further rinsing once it is boiled and shelled! It turns out that eating an acorn from every oak tree I find IS a good way to find that pot of gold at the end of the acorn rainbow! Hooray!!!! Have a look at the huge oaks in St Ardauld next time you are up that way, the acorns are small but taste so good with almost no processing!!!

At the Upwey Food Swap - I got some very good swaps for my acorn bread and my acorn flour! 

Surprise fact 1 - if you put whole cracked acorns in half a bucket of water and let it sit for a while it will start to smell like antiseptic. This brew will get your hands super clean and even get slug slime off!

Surprise fact 2 - 300kg of acorns will give you 100kg of pork - an excellent food to meat ratio!