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...

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!