Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Simple Way Project

Exploring Simple Living and Starting a Community Farm

As some of you may know from reading previous posts, in November I applied to start a community farm and explore Simple Living as part of a Documentary being filmed.

It has been a hectic few months, building the tiny house that would be my home in December and moving in in January, designing and implementing the Rainbow Serpent Festival Gardens, driving to Queensland to hold workshops for Earth Frequency Festival, hosting a 2 day Herbalism Course in Melbourne and starting the 2015 Permaculture Design Course, I am now finally grounding down to work more solidly at developing the Community.



This is where I live now. My bed is above, in a loft, with a beautiful little window the rising sun wakes me through. It is still not complete, as we are finishing the Geodesic window and I need to start building a veranda and garden beds.

I am going to get a small wood stove to make tea and medicines in the winter, as my dream is to have an apothecary, where I can dry, store and make herbal medicines!
Hopefully The Perma Pixie will have some amazing hand made products to share after the months of Winter, as I will be grounding down and finishing my Herbal Medicine degree, building a medicinal herb garden and practicing through the art of not only reading, but doing!


This weekend I spent the good part of a day practicing the skills learned with Dr.Elaine Ingham, and made a thermal compost. I absolutely LOVE making compost!
Using straw, grass clippings, lucerne and horse manure I layered the compost using the ratios I had learned (which was tedious, but in a very zen-like way) and watered down each layer.
Now, checking only 2 days later- the compost is steaming!


The satisfaction of a steamy pile of compost!
Currently we shower in the dam, or using a solar shower bag (often filled with cold water), but soon that will become tiresome as the days grow shorter and colder. We will be installing a Rocket Stove hot water shower, and will need to build the shower block.

We are now working on a bicycle powered blender, as I am missing my liquid breakfasts and we are advocating to try and use as little power as possible. Obviously there are transitions as we build things, but we are in Gippsland, and if we ever need a friendly reminder we can just go for a walk up the street and watch the incredible view of the Coal Fired Power Stations, which is enough to solidify why we are doing this.



 In the next few weeks we will be converting the shed into a cozy communal kitchen. The shed will need to be clad and filled with insulation, a sink and grey water system will need to be installed, and a combustion stove for cooking and baking delicious sour dough winter goods will be our main heating source.

The past two months have been mainly spent on the gardens, helping with peoples dwellings and working on the social aspects of the community, such as a two day intro to Holistic Management (a decision making framework), designing, planning and reading books together on group dynamics.

Now we are getting ready for more action!
The superadobe oven has been cobbed and is now ready for its final render layer, although we have already used it 3 times for pizza night with great success. Pizza nights are lovely, we all knead dough on our wooden trestle table overlooking the meadow at sunset, sit by the fire and drink cider that is made on the property by our own 'master brewer'.

Stomping Cob... the muddy job my mum would say I'm born to do!

This weekend we started our outdoor rocket stoves, which will soon be finished and then we can harness the power of fire for all our cooking needs. Rocket stoves are a really efficient use of energy, and are incredibly simple to make.


Rocket Stove using an upside down trough as a stand and old bricks

Cobbing around the Rocket Stove

The two Rocket Stoves nearly finished, the chimney still needs to be built up


I am looking forward to building the Shower block using lots of old windows, planting flowers around the Yurt, baking bread on the combustion stove and generally beautifying everything as the cooler weather sets in.

Before coming to this property and participating in this project I thought I lived quite a 'conscious' and aware lifestyle, but I am happy to be with a bunch of people who constantly inspire me and challenge my ideas of what 'Simple' living really is.

I look forward to many more months of learning, doing, exploring and being.


My best friend, Zero.




Here is an excerpt from our Vision Statement written by Samuel Alexander of the Simplicity Institute. 




You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. – Buckminster Fuller

Enough, for Everyone, Forever

When one first hears calls for a simpler way, it is easy to think that this new vision must be about hardship and deprivation; that it means going back to the Stone Age, resigning ourselves to a stagnant culture, or being anti-progress. Not so.

Voluntary simplicity liberates us from the burden of pursuing material excess. We simply don’t need so much stuff – certainly not if it comes at the cost of planetary health, social justice, and personal well-being.

Consumerism is a gross failure of imagination, a debilitating addiction that degrades nature and doesn’t even satisfy the universal human craving for meaning.

By contrast, voluntary simplicity refers to a way of life based on very modest material and energy needs but which is nevertheless rich in other dimensions – a life of frugal abundance. It is about creating an economy based on sufficiency, knowing how much is enough to live well, and discovering that enough is plenty.

The lifestyle implications of one planet living are far more radical than the ‘light green’ forms of sustainable consumption that are widely discussed today. Turning off the lights, taking shorter showers, and recycling are all necessary parts of what sustainability will require of us, but these measures are far from enough.

But this does not mean we must live a life of painful sacrifice. Most of our basic needs can be met in quite simple and low-impact ways, while maintaining a high quality of life.

Only by striving for and achieving material sufficiency can there ever be ‘enough, for everyone, forever.’