Perma Blitz Kalorama, Saturday the 14th April 2012


Saturday 14th April, 2012
Host: Claire Coutts
Lead Designer: Taj Scicluna
Co-Designers: Heather Elliot and Bridie Mckavanagh

I used this client for my Design Drawing Assignment, second semester of the Permaculture Diploma 2011 at Eltham College.
The assignment had to be completed by December, and some of the planning wasn't exactly finished, so the design differs a little from the clients needs.
There were a few things from the design which we decided to focus on, and although I was named lead designer and tried to give what I could to the role, I really felt that everyone put in their fair share in the process.
The two key aspects which we focused on for the day were the herb garden out the front, south facing outside the kitchen window, and the fox and hawk proof chicken run out the back, north facing on a slope.

After a lot of designing, planning, meetings and de-briefings- we finally arrived on the sunny day at 8am, ready to start with our 15 volunteers at 10am.
We started a little late, waiting for some stragglers, first with a brief introduction of who we were, where we were from and a little permaculture background. This was followed by each individual leading the group through their favourite stretch, then there was a quick run through of the process for the day before splitting into two groups to help with the two activities for the day.
Bridie and I facilitated the Chicken Run with about 7-8 volunteers, while Heather facilitated the herb terrace with about 6-7 volunteers.
Both the projects collectively cost less than $100, as the materials were mostly salvaged by Claire herself (who is excellent in the arts of scrounging and recycling!).
The input and feedback we received from people was incredible, although if I could personally do anything different next time it would be to plan the construction of a structure a little better before the actual day! I am getting better at using presision and measurements instead of the "oh that will do, its creative!" attitude! We had a few technical difficulties with the roof of the structure, as we used UPVC pipe (which was basically the only thing we brought) so it doesn't bend in the sun (much like black polypipe does, which can cause the structure to bend out of shape and not last as long). This is a lot less malleable, and we could only get it in 6m lengths on the day- attaching the UPVC to the star picketts and then using wire mesh and chicken wire for the walls and roof, their would have been a lot of height to the structure and not enough width.
We didn't get to start the roof on the day, as the chicken run was quite a big job, but agreed to buy some elbows and another length of UPVC to attach the roof, to gain more width and less height in the future.
A trench was dug around the area of the chicken run, about 10cm deep, for the hard galvanized wire to fit into. This wire reached a height of 2m, same as the star pickets. Then a shallower trench, about 5cm deep, was dug around the chicken run, about 50cm wide. Chicken wire was then tied to the galvanized wire fence, and dug into the shallow trench and covered over. This works on the principle that foxes coming up close to the fence will try and dig underneath to get to the chickens, only to discover the chicken wire underneath. The foxes will not usually dig 60cm out from the fence to see where the wire stops!
The whole group was very co-operative and enthusiastic, and I have to say my favourite thing about the chicken run is the gate post made of a eucalyptus tree branch, which makes the whole thing look a little more creative and rustic.

Heather designed an amazing terraced herb garden for the front yard, which was similar in concept to a food spiral. The garden was terraced, with a U-shaped trench dug around the whole herb garden, which was filled with mulch. This acted like a bit of a swale, where water coming down the slope could gather and soak into the terraced beds with the herbs in them. The drier more Mediterranean herbs were placed at the top, receiving less water and more sun (after a few of the existing trees were cut down), while the more water loving herbs were placed at the bottom terrace, where they could get a good soak in the shade. The terrace walls were made using dry stone walling, which looked fantastic! 


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