Rocklyn Yoga Ashram Permaculture Field Trip

May 18th 2013

The Saturday Permaculture Design Course class was taken on a field trip with myself and my co-teacher Tamara Griffiths to the Rocklyn Yoga Ashram (as suggested by one of our students, thanks Linda!). This Ashram has been designed a 30 year Permaculture plan by David Holmgren.
No PDC is complete without a field trip to see the systems in place, the plants growing, the wildlife flourishing and the environment benefiting!

Our group of 6 joined with the Montmorency transition group on a tour of the gardens with Prem, a very humble woman that cares for the gardens and has a very special relationship with her plants and compost!
Each bed had its own irrigation system and despite our decent into the colder months, there was still a range of things growing and flowering. There were people chopping contents to put into the compost (the finer the pieces, the quicker the compost will be made! Its all about surface area!), fixing fences to keep the rabbits out, pruning the berry canes, taking cuttings and mulching the beds.

There are only few things more lovely than seeing carrot roots peeking out of the soil! I remember the first time I EVER tasted a carrot out of the soil that I had grown- I was 19yrs old. It was a revelation! I wanted to grow my own food forever... I am still working on that part! I have started the teaching and the designing and I am growing, but dont nearly spend enough time in my garden.

After the garden tour, which I found super inspiring as I always like to see things GROWING and see Permaculture WORKING, we had some morning tea, followed by some Yoga Nidra. This was wonderful and relaxing and a real challenge for me to just lay with myself and focus on my body and let everything flow and drain away. I will work on this I think.

Now for the exciting bit! After an amazing lunch we sat with Atma as she told us about the 30 year Permaculture Design that David Holmgren created for the Ashram.
This, in my opinion, was an incredible thing to see!
There were three designs, complete with an extensive management plan.
The management plan was broken up into sections:
Design Process, Brief Summery, Brief Interpretation and Project Assessment, Site Analysis, Strategy Plan, Implementation Process and Priorities and Appendices.

I was relieved to see that the process and layout of the design and management plan were similar to my own, which I have done through a lot of my own logic and planning.
I stared at the pages of this plan, however, with longing, inspiration and anxiety. I wondered how long it took David Holmgren to complete this design, which made me question whether I myself am working hard enough. I think it is normal to doubt ourselves when we are trying to follow our highest passions and excitement.

The design itself contained a sector analysis, zone management plan and final design plan. These all had a full contour map of the property, which I was in awe over! Earthworks baffle me a little and I love seeing things done precisely and correctly.
I desperately wanted to sit with the management plan for a good few hours to make sure I was on the right track and furiously make notes, but there was a class to run and although the students are lovely, I don't know how they would feel about me pouring over this design plan for hours while they wandered about the place!

We took a walk around the whole of the property discussing the design techniques, looking at the mud brick house they had built, the sewage system and reed beds, the dam, spillway and contours, the positioning of trees, the access, dam walls and fire management, the header tank, woodlot and fruit trees...
When we finally sat down to discuss our findings the rain started to spit at us and we decided to go home after briefly talking about the design and its effectiveness.

Now, for the students who have had time to have a bit more of a think:
How has energy been harnessed and directed within the design?


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