Permablitz the Gong!

Eating the suburbs, one backyard at a time!


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Permablitz The Farm!

It’s been a little while between blitzes as our February blitz was unable to go ahead, but we have something very special coming up for April that we hope will be as exciting for you all as it is for us! We canvassed the eligible blitz hosts to see if anyone was keen on a Feb/March blitz at their home, but no-one was in the position to have a blitz before our next scheduled blitz in May (more on that soon!!). Instead of waiting until May, we are hosting a very special permablitz at the Urban Grown farm on April 12th, the first farm scale permablitz in the Illawarra!

Permablitz the Farm!
Where: Urban Grown, Warrawong
When: Saturday 12th April, 10-4pm
RSVP: Email permablitzthegong@gmail.com by Friday 4th April to register your interest.

Please note, it is ESSENTIAL that you email us here at the gmail address to register for the blitz. This blitz is a bit different to our previous blitzes and there is a lot of important info below, so make sure you keep reading!

As always, we will blitz rain, hail or shine and will provide a delicious lunch, bottomless cups of tea/coffee and cold beverages for everyone. This event is free and open to all regardless of skill level. We welcome first time gardeners.

About Urban Grown
Urban Grown is a farm that operates in conjunction with Warrawong High. It was set-up to grow local chemical free produce, look after the land and create jobs in our community, particularly for young people. It is part of a social enterprise called Green Connect. For anyone unfamiliar with social enterprise and how it works, a social enterprise is a business set-up to achieve social and environmental outcomes through trade, and focuses on maximising the benefits to the community rather than profits for stakeholders.

This year, a small team of volunteers took on managing the farm, in an effort to see it through to sustainability. To do this, they need to develop the farm (more beds, more plants in the ground, a new chicken and duck house, and much more), in order to grow and sell enough produce to fund jobs, farm management, and urban agriculture in our community. ‘Permablitz the Farm’ will kick-start this new phase at Urban Grown. It will help build this asset for our community, create jobs locally, and mean more locally grown chemical free food. It will also be a chance to see urban growing in a small farm context.

All participants will get a blitz credit, same as you would for a regular Permablitz and you also get to be part of building community sustainability and resilience in the Illawarra.

What differences can I expect at this blitz?

  • Please note that while you are welcome to bring your children, due to the nature of this site we cannot permit children to be on the work site at all and they must be with a parent or trusted guardian at all times. There is a Yurt at the edge of the site than can be used as a children’s play area and we suggest that parents alternate with their partner or another adult so you can enjoy the blitz as well as looking after your children.
  • We are calling for people with building experience to put their hands up, as we will be building secure structures on the day for the chickens and ducks that need to be 100% fox proof after a recent fox attack. This will take many hands, so we’d love to have all you builders on the job
  • We will need tools! Lots of them! Wheelbarrows, shovels, whatever you have that you can bring will be greatly appreciated. Remember to label your tools as they all look the same when they are covered in dirt!

Hope to see you there!


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Permablitz #7 – Nerida and Kev

There’s nothing more amazing than seeing how many of you continue to turn up on the most horrendous rainy days! The spirit of our blitz volunteers seems enhanced somehow by truly dreadful weather, and people get muddy and dirty and soaked to the skin but still manage to have an amazing day and create something transformational for the blitz hosts.

This blitz was great – a combination of no dig gardens, raised gardens, chicken housing, bush regeneration, orchard planting, and even paving! The feel of this garden before the blitz was an organic, cottage garden kind of feel and the blitz team designed food into the space in a way that matched this aesthetic and fit with the environment that the hosts had created.  Nerida has also kindly given us a few photos of how the garden is looking now – for the full photo album, check out our Facebook page. See below for the writeup!

One more back yard in the Gong Permablitzed! And yet again the declaration “We blitz rain, hail or shine” was proven mightily true!

We had barely a drop of rain for so many months and then we broke the drought by having a Permablitz at our place. Just as it was time to gather with Jacqui, Bec, Shez and Kristy in the yard, down came the rain and it stayed all day. 

But the hardy folk of the Permablitz world were not deterred, with rain coats and wellies or sturdy boots (and even emergency ponchos) everyone tried to keep a wee bit dry. Tried….

But the cheerful chatting and sound of picks and shovels, wheelbarrows rolling, everything started happening, with teams jumping into jobs to turn another yard into a productive wonderland.

Meanwhile in the kitchen, Kevin and I had gone to plan B with the food – out with the salads and in with lots of hot ‘comfort’ food to help warm and cheer everyone at lunch time.

It was amazing and humbling to be on the receiving side of Permablitz, to stand with everyone in the Welcome Circle and realise they were all here to help us transform our yard.

And what a transformation! We started with a huge mountain of hay, straw, compost, manure, paper, cardboard, timber, wire, plants, tools and then added everyone’s energy and enthusiasm…….and  at the end have a chicken run, swales and a fruit tree grove, loads  of vegie and herb beds front and back, a pile of rubble converted to a storage and drop off area, beautifully levelled and paved, a banana plantation and the front verge converted to beautiful native grasses and trees to attract and shelter wild life.

I can’t wait to get to the next Permablitz, and the one after that and the one after that! And in the mean time I marvel at our Permaculture Garden and how much was done on that one wet and cool Sunday by a wonderful community of people who are so committed and give so much. A huge THANK YOU to everyone!


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Permablitz #6 – Georgie and Evan

As you can imagine, sometimes after a blitz it takes the hosts a little while to get around to doing a writeup of the day as they are so damn busy hanging in their new garden! This blitz was definitely one of the most transformative to date. The hosts had been growing food (including an impressive asparagus patch!), but the lack of systems to tie the elements of their space together meant that it had become overgrown with tough kikuyu grass and weeds, with chickens free ranging across to the neighbours houses. They are also juggling work and two small children, so needed something that was both productive and manageable. By the end of the blitz day, we had created a huge swathe of no dig beds that were swaled down the hill, relocated the chicken house, revived and enhanced a pond area for frogs and water plants, cleared an area for potting and seed raising, and sheet mulched extensively to control the grass and weeds.

Georgie gave us a writeup of the day recently, and provided some pictures as well which is great for those who love to see what a blitzed backyard looks like a few months down the track:

Six months ago, on a beautiful August day, a lovely bunch of energetic gardening enthusiasts transformed our garden in a day. We were lucky enough to witness and be part of the magic of Permablitz. It was amazing to see how much could be achieved in that day, but it has also been wonderful to watch our garden grow – and my experience and knowledge with it.
 
With a mountain of mulch, all the no-dig garden supplies ready and enough yummy food ready to feed a small army, we were ready for the day to come. Preparation was fun and a bit stressful, but absolutely key to the day running smoothly. It meant that everyone was ready to enjoy the day, everyone had something they could do and we could all just get to it! I really enjoyed working with Jacqui, Beck, Kristy and Shez and hugely appreciated the amount of care and thought they all put into the design process.
 
I have loved the pockets of space that have opened up and allowed me to create in the garden. The pruned branches of the olive tree has become a bean tee-pee that the kids can climb inside to pick beans, or just hang out. Ada especially loves picking the beans and will gather some for visitors or bring some in for dinner. A spare patch has become a vibrant burst of colour as tall crayon bright zinnea flowers sway in the breeze. I love being able to go out with a bowl or basket and gather the makings of dinner – a bunch of kale or spinach becomes frittata, purple and green beans on the side complete the meal.
 
I’m also still learning. An unlocked gate allowed a passing dog or fox to nudge into the chicken yard, and meant our chickens met a rapid and nasty end. Gardening with small children brings its own joys and challenges. After some fencing reinforcement we tried a second time. Our girls were safe, but so too were the increasing numbers of four legged friends attracted to the daily smorgasbord of grain and scraps. In the interests of civil neighbourly relations, we had to send the girls on an extended holiday to a brother and sister-in-law’s place. If anyone has any tried and tested ways of feeding chickens without bringing out the rodents (I reckon they’re around anyway but the daily feeding brings them out into the open) I would love to hear them. We miss our chooks. 
 
Other lessons? The humidity, the dreaded fruitfly and the difficulty in keeping up with staking them all has defeated me again in my dreams of mega tomato production. I think I’ll stick with cherry varieties next year, which fared much better. I popped in some potatoes which shot up vigorously and then proceeded to be quickly demolished by a plague of tiny hairy aphid like insects. I’ll be googling organic treatments for next time. All part of the continual learning process that is gardening. Our strawberries, on the other hand, were prolific. I’m sure the borage planted nearby, attracting a constant stream of bees, had a hand in the bumper crop.
 
I’ve been topping up the compost, planting new seedlings and enjoying summer in the garden. Thank you one and all who came to our Permablitz and helped to create such a productive, joyful and evolving garden.

Thanks Georgie for an awesome writeup, and for your honesty about the lessons you’ve learned along the way. All of us at Permablitz HQ hope that using a covered feeder helps with the four legged issue, and that you can bring your chickens home soon! Thanks also to everyone who worked their butts off to achieve such a great result!


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Permablitz #5 – wrapup

It’s always great to hear from Permablitz hosts and participants about what their experience of the blitz was like. Jenna, one of the hosts from Blitz #5 has given us her take on the day…

The fun started for us the moment we found out we’d qualified for a blitz & started to work with the Permablitz the Gong team. We were amazed by all the planning & organising that happened well before the big day, and we enjoyed every step along the way. Kristy, Jacqui, Bec and Shez spent a lot of time observing the space, listening to what we wanted, sharing & building ideas with us. We collaborated over meals to finalise the design & went about collecting materials with 100% support.

The day itself was like a whirlwind of awesome. The permablitz team arrived early with their wheelbarrows and took everything in their stride. When waves of lovely people started arriving to help, Jacqui greeted them & put them to work – everything was so well planned, and everyone was so well looked after that I felt like I could just sit back and watch it all come together.

After a morning of hard work, everyone came together for lunch and a chat. It felt like everyone was an old friend of ours, even these that we’d just met. It was a wonderful experience.

When I stepped out after lunch (having been busy in the kitchen all morning) it was literally jaw-dropping. Years of work and transformation had been achieved in a single morning: vegetation was cleared, swales were dug, veggie beds were built, paths were made, trees were planted, a pond was dug and fences were well on their way. We were so grateful to everyone who gave up their Saturday to make something so great happen for us.

In the days after the blitz I found myself marvelling in the garden every day. A few things hadn’t gone to plan: we had to move a few fruit trees & we ran out of materials and time to finish some jobs. But gardens are evolving projects & the blitz certainly gave us a tremendous leg up.

3 weeks later, we harvested our first salad and now (9 weeks on) we are feeding our neighbours as well! We have tadpoles in our pond, potatoes poking their leafy heads up, and when it rains, the swales turn our veggie beds into islands in a lake of captured water.

Permablitz the Gong brings sustainability into our backyards, and people into communities. Our heartfelt thanks to all the blitzers who made this possible, as well as to the tireless and amazing team who are the driving force behind Permablitz the Gong. Together in eating the suburbs, one backyard at a time!

All the best & thanks again,

Jen x

Check out the photos from the day at our Facebook page


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Permablitz #6 – Coledale

It’s blitz time again! We’d love to see you there!

Permablitz the Gong! – Saturday August 24th

Where: Coledale
When: Saturday 24th August, 10-4pm
RSVP: Email permablitzthegong@gmail.com by Friday 9th August to register your interest.
Please note, it is ESSENTIAL that you email the gmail address to register for the blitz.
What we will do:
  • Veggie garden bed preparation and planting
  • Establishment of a fruit tree forest
  • Sheet mulching
  • Invasive weed clearing
  • Fencing
  • Workshops
…and much more!
We will blitz rain, hail or shine and will provide a delicious lunch, bottomless cups of tea/coffee and cold beverages for everyone.  This event is free and open to everyone regardless of skill level. We welcome first time gardeners.


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International Permaculture Day Tours

On May the 5th the Permablitz the Gong crew hosted garden tours of the first three blitz sites to celebrate International Permaculture Day. As with any events you host, it was slightly nerve wracking as we stood ready to welcome people at the first site and we just crossed everything that someone would show up. Before we knew it, people were streaming down the driveway! There were familiar faces, and also a lot of new faces, including a group who had made the trek all the way from the Nowra Community Garden!

Several people attended all three sites, and we ran multiple tours on each site taking people through aspects of the design, and pointing out the elements that had been implemented on the permablitzes. It was an overwhelmingly positive day, especially when we heard people say over and over again “I’m going to go home and garden now!”. Even if people just get inspired to build one no dig bed and grow some salad, or raise some chickens, or implement anything they have seen on a blitz with some thought about how it fits into the system of their own environment, it creates lasting change.

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It’s our one year anniversary! And we’re running garden tours to celebrate!

This weekend (Sunday 5th May) is International Permaculture Day, and the one year anniversary of Permablitz the Gong! To celebrate, we are opening up the sites of the first three Permablitzes so you can see how much they have progressed over the year.

Blitz #1 – Sheryl’s place
Tour 10am – 10:45am – 22 Princes Hwy West Wollongong
NOTE: There is no parking out the front as it is a main road. Closest side street is Highway Avenue. Please park there if you are driving.

Blitz #2 – Kristy and Trina’s place
Tour 11am – 11:45am – 40 Ocean St, Mount Saint Thomas

Blitz#3 – Jacqui and Bec’s place
Tour 12pm – 12:45pm – 116 Heaslip St, Mangerton

Please note that these tour times are strictly limited so we can get around to all three gardens. 

We’re asking for a gold coin donation, with all proceeds going to International Permaculture Day and Permafund.

We also encourage Illawarra folk to head along to one of the other great local activities happening on International Permaculture Day:

Working bee – North Wollongong Community Garden 10am – 2pm
Permaculture Visions City Fringe Demonstration site 2 – 4pm
For more info, check out http://www.permacultureday.org
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