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News Archieve

Fest la Frog 2015

Fest la Frog is returning to its 2013 time slot in 2015. Expect the festival in early Jan. Grey Cliffs will run an "Introduction to Permaculture Course as part of the workshop program. [Unfortunaely this event was cancelled]

Nov 2014 - Red and Blue Gathering - VIC 1st to 4th Nov

Red and Blue Gathering is a participant run gathering focusing on preparing for future scenarios we may face in the next 1 to 50 years. In particular we focus on two major themes, a social decline theme such as might be caused by peak oil, slow climate change, or economic collapse (Blue) and a severe collapse theme and scenarios such as severe climate change or global nuclear war (Red).

The event is being set up by Grey Cliff's Adrian Whitehead.

The name was inspired by the "Future Scenario" work of permaculture co-founder David Holmgren, being Earth Steward (Blue) and Life Boat (Red).

The Red and Blue gathering will host a range of workshops, discussions and events focused on the background, skills, technology, systems and cultural issues surrounding preparation for these scenarios.

See facebook event page for more details

picture showing the megering of the colours of red and blue to produce magenta where they over lap

May 2014 - Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse and other Collapse Scenarios

Weekend Course May 24th and 25th - CERES East Brunswick

This workshop uses the popular cultural symbol of the Zombie Apocalypse to explore the fundamentals of surviving a collapse of civilisation from a range of scenarios including climate change and economic collapse. The course introduces participants to the basics of collapse survival including developing your plan, your go bag, skills you will need, selecting a refuge, your carrying capacity, group dynamics, psychological issues, food, defence strategies, ways we might avoid a future collapse and a range of practical skills sessions to break up the theory.

The course is inspired by permaculture and systems thinking and seeks to provide the participants with a thorough exploration of the issues needed to commence preparation for a collapse scenario.

The course is taught by Grey Cliff's Adrian Whitehead. Adrian is an environmental and climate campaigner, permaculture teacher and educator, former infantry private and officer, swordsman, ex bouncer, and has a keen interest in surviving the future.

See facebook event page for more details

zombie with cicket ball stuck in head and cricket bat stuck in body

Apr 2014 - Saving the Planet

Grey Cliffs Permaculture founders Bryony Edwards and Adrian Whitehead are still working on their political project - Save the Planet.

Save the Planet is a climate focused party whose is seeking to implement the needed changes in society to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Check out the Save the Planet's webpage

save the planet logo - white tree on blue earth

Mar 2014 - Confest

Grey Cliffs Permaculture was again involved in presenting workshops at the 2014 Easter Permaculture Village in particular Saving the Planet workshop and preparing for collapse workshops.

An initiative of Christina Reeves, the Permaculture Village again was a great event with great range of workshops and lots of people attending.

If you are interested in next years event please join Permaculture Village facebook group.

Courses in Early 2014

Grey Cliffs Permaculture is involved in three teaching opportunities in early 2014.

The first is with Creative Communities Feb 28 Weekend Workshop "Self Sufficiency and Community Living" Workshop weekend.

The second involves Grey Cliffs Permaculture managing the 2014 workshop program for Fest la Frog and delivering a variety of workshops including running an Introduction to Permacutlure course.

The third is at Easter Confest, where we will be presenting and helping run the Permaculture Village.

See courses page for more details

June 2013 - Recycled Seats

We have just purchased three 100% recycled plastic “Kimberly” seats from our Otways property made by Replas, a Victorian recycled plastic furniture manufacturer.

Check out the Replas website for lots of recycled plastic outdoor furniture options.

replas seat looking out to southern ocean with sthe light of the rising sun shining from the side

Apr 2013 - Saving the Planet

One of the things that makes Permaculture fundamentally different than other design systems such as argoecology or ecological based system thinking is that at it's core is has series of ethical principles.

The orginal three were:

  1. Care for the earth
  2. Care for people
  3. Sustainable population and limited consumption
As part of our commitment to these principles Adrian and Bryony have begun the process of setting up a new political party called Save the Planet.

Save the Planet is a climate focused party whose is seeking to implement the needed changes in society to:

“ensure we return to a safe climate (maintaining global average temperatures at preindustrial levels) as quickly as possible and avoid a climate catastrophe as a result of human forced climate change; and create a sustainable economy and lifestyles.”

At its core we want to sustain humanity, civilisation and the diversity of life on the planet and to improve wellbeing for all people. We seek to achieve this through public education and political and non political campaigning.

Is a political political party really permaculture? Well like it or not politics is one of the key mechanisms we use to manage our society and if you want things to change you and either choose to seek to be involved or not and we choose to be involved at this level of our current system.

We see it as a great opportunity to present premacutlure principles to a broader audience (such as sustainable population and limited consumption) and save the planet at the same time from climate change and other ecological and social disasters (the later is of course something you would try and do if you practice the first two principles of permacutlure).

Check out the Save the Planet's webpage

save the planet logo - white tree on blue earth

Mar 2013 - Confest

Grey Cliffs Permaculture was involved in presenting and helping coordinate the workshops at the 2013 Easter Permaculture Village. An initiative of Christina Reeves, the Permaculture Village was a great event with great range of workshops and lots of people attending or stepping up and using the spaces to teach a range of permaculture releated topics.

The main permaculte work shops were run by Adrian Whitehead from Grey Cliffs Permacutlure and Tamara Griffiths whose PDC, which she is running with Taj Scicluna (The Perma Pixie), is starting on July 10 (see the the face book page or their main website

Thanks to the great of people involved in helping with the event and the Appropriate Tech village which we were colocated with.

Check out the Facebook page to get involved or be updated for next years event.

work under shade cloth with Theo

workshop with the beeman

tech village workshop with the atroboys

Mar 2013 - Fete La Frog

The next two workshops being run by Grey Cliffs Permaculture are being held on Saturday the 23rd of March at the Fete La Frog.

At 11am Adrian will be doing a 50 minute Permaculture Basics presentation, designed to introduce people to the idea of permaculture. This work would be great to introduce your friends to permaculture and for people contemplating learning about permaculture but who haven’t yet started reading or attending any courses.

After lunch, Bryony will be doing a 50 minute Starting Your Vege Patch at 1pm. A workshop for people interested in starting their vegie garden. Workshop will cover sighting, bed preparation, wicking beds, choice of plants, and building fertility.

There are lots of other great workshops including:

  • Economic meltdown as a trigger for systemic change from Doing it Ourselves with Theo Kitchner
  • The Best Diet for Energy, Health and Wellbeing with Mark Doneddu
  • and a great range of healing, singing and dance workshops.

The event also includes three musics stages, kids space, healing space, market and much more. The event is a fundraiser to cover the costs of this years Fest La Frog ($-25K) and to help put us in a financial position to run the 2014 Fest la Frog. So please come along and support FLF or send a friend.

Free entry before 10:30am; 0-2 years- free; 3-13 years- $8 ; Adults- $20

See facebook for more details. There is also a follow up warehouse after party.

Jan 2013 - Permaculture at Fest Le Frog

Grey Cliffs Permaculture ran its first Introduction to Permaculture course this year at Fest la Frog, a 7 day music, arts and education festival held on French Island (see http://www.festlafrog.com/).

The course was structured around a set of core Permaculture subjects presented by Adrian Whitehead from Grey Cliffs and range of optional workshops organised on two themes, Permaculture Skills and the major Transitions we need to undertake to make a sustainable future. Adrian also coordinated the festival's entire workshop program.

The optional workshops were presented by a great range of groups and individuals who included, Pete the Permie from Telopea Mtn Permaculture, Robert from Bee Sustainable, Theo from Doing it Ourselves, Neesh from the Australia Food Sovereignty Alliance, Cameron from Beyond Zero Emissions, Mikoto from Murundaka Cohousing and Bryony from Grey Cliffs Permaculture. Other workshops run included Bush Tucker with Symon, Aquaculture with Westie, and Soils and composting with Taj “Permapixie” and Ella and many more.

One of the highlights of the festival was the location at Mcleod Eco Farm, run by Mark Cunningham. Run on biodynamic principles. The farm directly provided 80% of the food eaten by the 100’s of festival goers serving lovely vegetarian and non vegetarian food. This is a refreshing change from many courses I have attended (including ours) where most of the food is coming from the supermarket! A special thanks to Mark Cunningham and Lionel Watson (farm manager) for supporting the permaculture workshops and running farm tours.

The course produced 26 graduates with over 100 people participating in the workshops and we are looking forward to running the whole thing again next year in 2014.

Thanks to everybody involved in making it such a great festival with a special thanks to Deano Good Brew and Alexis Marsh for bringing the event together.

Pics from the event...

picture of Theo Ktichener seated about to run a workshop with very nice smile
Theo from Doing it Ourselves

people attending the farm tour
Mcleod Eco Farm tour being run by Mark Cunningham

large high roofed room with presenter in corner using a data projector and about 20 people in shot listing
Westie giving his aquaponics workshop in the main conference hall

shot of main crop area showing rows of greens growing in the distance
One of the zone 3 main cropping areas where food was grown.

two young pigs roaming around the farm
People had a chance to meet their meat on the farm with free range pigs roaming the farm and some able to open tent zippers.

picture of three people posing for the shot, Deano and Ra are seated while Alexis is leaning into the shot with a nice smile.
Some of the people who made Fest La Frog possible: Alexis event manager, Dean Good Brew event director and Ra from Nexis

Up Coming Event Jan 2013 - Permaculture at Festival Le Frog

2013's big first project is organising an Introduction to Permaculture at the January 2013 Festival Le Frog held at French Island from Jan 7 till Jan 13 (set up commencing Jan 1).Fest La Frog is a two week festival run on on French Island involving hands on biodynamic farming, workshops, music (local live bands) and a great party.

Google earth picture of Festival le Frog site and Mcleod Eco Farm on French Island. Map shows vaious areas including camp ground, vegie patch, Main Stage, market etc.
Map of Festival Site

Workshops will be run over three days, from Monday the 8th of January to Thursday the 10th, and run under three themes, Permaculture, Transition and Wellbeing.

A key part of the festival is a focus on permaculture. We will be coordinating a range of permaculture workshops based around the Introduction to Permaculture Course we run at Grey Cliffs Permaculture offering participants the opportunity to obtain an Introduction to Permaculture certificate if they attend a minimum number of workshops.

The Permaculture Course kicks off Monday morning so you will need to get to French Island on Sunday or make sure you are on the Monday morning ferry!

The permaculture related workshops are being run by a range of teachers who will be presenting workshops on their area of expertise including Adrian and Bryony from Grey Cliffs Permaculture, Pete the Permie from Telopea Mountain Permaculture and Nursery, Bee Sustainable and Theo from Doing it Ourselves.

This is a great oppertunity to get a Introduction to Permaculture certificate for the price of attending a Festival!.

If your interested in attending check out the Festival Le Frog website.

Introduction to Permaculture Course – June 2012

This years Introduction to Permaculture Course was run in June at our Otways block. We had an enthusiastic group of six students including our first students form overseas.

Bryony and Students next to our nursery
Bryony teaching the propagation class next to our nursery

Lucian standing on the table drawning on a chalk board used for teaching the class while Adrian is trying to teach.
Lucian helps teach the class

Picture of top part of vege (house) garden. Garden is terraced into the hill. New blue stone steps can be seen.
Picture of the top of the garden. The blue stone used steps came from a house renovation.

Two students showing their identical black gum boots with polka dots
What are the chances – two students separately purchased identical gum boots ready for any wet weather.

Knife Making – April 2012

Adrian under took Knife making training at Tharwa Valley Forge in the ACT, under the excellent tuition of Karim Haddad and his capable assistant. Adrian is setting up his own forge and the course was an excellent hands on experience in both using the tools and equipment needed to make knives and the techniques required.

Adrian hammering a orange hot bar of metal into a knife on an anvil.
Adrian begins to shape his knife.

A  bright yellow bar of metal with a knife shape on one end is withdraw from the gas forge.
The gas forges heat the metal allow it to be hammered into the shape of a knife.

A knife shape is being heated in front of the face of the forge.
At different stages different heat treatments are applied to create different effects in the metal.

Adrian grinding the knife shape.
The knife shape is now smoothed with a grinder to remove the scale and roughest areas prior linishing.

Two knives with rough handles assembled ready for glueing. Layers of brass, plastic visible.
Handles ready for glueing.

Adrian watching his handle get glued together with epoxy resin.
Karim Haddad glues the handles together with epoxy.

Two finished knives. Layers of brass, plastic visible on one red wood and one other wooden handle.
Finished Knives. Chocolate biscuit effect comes from pieces of kitchen bench top.

Fish Creek Biodynamic Farm Visit - October 2011

Dairy cows

Fish Creek is a biodynamic dairy farm owned by Ron and Bev Smith. They moved to biodynamics after Ron started having negative reactions to using super phosphate on their formally conventionally managed farm.

Ron Smith openning a large gate on his dam to irrigate his propperty
Releasing water to irrigate the farm

Ron and Bev's farm is now an excellent example of a Biodynamic practice, incorporating features such as key line farming, rotational grazing, diverse perennial pastures, free range chickens, production of nutrient dense foods and organic methods, though they follow a slightly more relaxed form of biodynamics than used by some groups.

View of part of the farm showing a swale which is used to irrigate the farm
A swale system provides water to the farm

Ron and Bev also started the True Organic label, a farmer owned marketing cooperative which has enabled the farmers to capture a larger share of the profits, which helped their farm to remain profitable during the decade of drought while most conventional dairies in their region where in debt to the tune of 10's of thousands of dollars.

Ron turns a sod of soil showing the healthy soil life and roots systems.
Healthy soil is a vital part of the system

Ron and Bev have now leased their farm but they have established an education centre which uses the still working farm as a living class room. They run very interesting half day education packages including a create lunch - see their website for more details.

Free range chickens sort through
Free range chickens sort through compost

Deep Green Permaculture Visit - October 2011

In Preston, just a few blocks away from our Kemp Street property, Angelo and Charlie have made a wonderful urban food forest based on permaculture. We visited there garden as part of the Zero Carbon Australia Land Use Plan Urban Food group.

view of garden showing structural diversity

Angelo provided a detailed description on how the garden was established and the principles involved in its design and function. Their garden includes intense planting of trees, layered food production, and the incorporation of cats into the system.

Leafy greens growing below a berry plant
Layered growing is a feature of this garden

Angelo has measured the productivity of his garden and has provided an excellent resource on his website.

Angelo in his garden
Angelo in his garden

Angelo encourages groups and individuals to visit his garden

Picture of Lucian eating an apple
Lucian enjoying the garden

Visit to Mount Fuji Permaculture - September 2011

As part of the trip to Japan I visit Mount Fuji Eco Park - a permaculture designed property on the lower slopes of Mount Fuji run by Masa Imai.

Picture of Adrian and Fuji Eco Park owner and staff
Lucian enjoying the garden

Normally blessed with stunning views of Mount fuji, we arrived the day before a category 2 hurricane passed over and was only able to experience the property in short dashes outside the main building in random gaps in the driving rain and very strong winds, however we were severed a lovely Miso soup and were able to talk to the owner.

Picture of  Fuji Eco Park compost toilet
Compost Toilet

The park offers woofing, guest accommodation, electric car conversion and the owner provides a consultancy service including the provision of solar cells.

Cut away wall with insulation showingCut away wall with insultation showing
Cut away wall insulation display

Asia Pacific Bio Char Conference - September 2011

In September this year Adrian headed to Japan to attend the 2011 Asia Pacific Bio Char conference.

Picture of conference main stage

Biochar is charcoal that has been created specifically for the purpose of improving agricultural productivity. Biochar is organic matter that has been burnt in a low oxygen environment. This drives of any water and most of the volatile organic chemicals leaving behind a stable carbon skeleton.

    Benefits of biochar to agriculture include:
  • increasing soil organic matter
  • improving soil water holding capacity
  • reducing acidification in soils (liming affect)
  • improving use of fertilisers
  • improving uptake of NO3 and suppressions of N2O emissions.
  • provision of nutrients
  • promoting healthy soil life

More importantly biochar offers the opportunity to store carbon is a stable form for hundreds or thousands or years depending on the feed stock used to create the biochar. Consequently biochar offers one of the few options, and quite possible the most important option for drawing down atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Biochar began to be promoted widely as an soil improver after if was recognised tha the black fertile "terra preta" soils* from the Amazon basin where linked to the production of biochar, though biochar soils have been found all around the world.

People people wishing to learn more about biochar we recommend the book The Biochar Revolution by Paul Taylor or see our Biochar Fact Sheet.

Terra preta soils consist of particles that are a mineral, orgnaic clay complex built around a core of biochar. This is not the same as raw or new biochar.

Biochar in Japan

Biochar use was outlined in a 15th century Japanese text, and the 80's it was formally recognised as an approved government soil additive. The pictures below show a more traditional method of making biochar.

Making biochar in Japan by burning bamboo
A traditional method of making biochar in Japan by burning bamboo.

Man putting water on burnt bamboo
The biochar is put out and cooled by hand and then transported to a composting facility where it is composted with manure from diaries waste and rice husks.

plants growing in a field as a biochar trial
Japanese universities test biochar in different concentrations with different plants. This is an example of one of the test near located near the compost centre.

Sign maring a biochar test plot near Kyoto in Japan
A biochar test plot.

Adrian joins the Zero Carbon Australia Team - April 2011

Adrian Whitehead, co-founder of Grey Cliffs Permaculture has taken a two year position with Melbourne University's Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) on the Zero Carbon Australia project to develop a 10 year transition road map for Australia's Land Use Sector.

mock cover of the land use report showing tree planting at Lala
Plan mock up

The project is a joint project with Beyond Zero Emissions, a group Adrian co-founded in 2006. He will be jointly managing the project with Dr Chris Taylor, an expert in sustainable forest systems. The key component of the project is the significant input from a large volunteer team.

revegeation of Imery mine site at Lal Lal
Biorich revegation at Imery mine site at Lal Lal open day

"The project is very challenging, but a vital one. We will be looking at how to reduce agricultural emission to zero and then how to maximise draw down of atmospheric carbon. By draw down atmospheric carbon in sufficient quantities we can return our greenhouse gases to a safe level. Only the land use sector will be able to do that." said Mr Whitehead.

The Land Use Plan is one of six reports being developed by the Zero Carbon Australia project. The first report released was the highly acclaimed Stationary Energy Plan which outlined how Australia could move to a 100% renewable energy in ten years for little over an additional 6 cents per kilowatt hour.

map of density of beef cattle for australia - most dense is northern australia
Most agricultural emissions come from livestock

For people wishing to find out more about the Land Use Plan or get involved in the research team please check out the Beyond Zero Emission website or email Adrian at adrian[@]beyondzeroemissions.org

Master Tree Growers - April 2011

In April Adrian began the Master Tree Growers course run by Rowan Reid and the Otway Agroforestry Network. The course was design to teach farmers and land holders how to grow high quality timber trees in ways that could be combined with farm activities or conservation objectives.

The course was base on Victoria's volcanic planes and include some properties on the Northern slops of the Otway Ranges.

The course was wide ranging and informative, looking at every thing from styles of planting trees, thinning, pruning, conservation, using portable mills and market opportunities.

Rowan Reed milling agroforetry grown timber
Rowan Reed demonstrating his protable mill.

Introduction to Permaculture Course II

In March we ran our second Permaculture introduction course with four students.

course standing in from of farm buggy with load of grass on the back

This course built on the inaugural course and included an additional practical exercise of building an compost.

Bryony putting a garden fork into the now largely composted compost pile

The course went well but a sick Lucian slowed the pace a little.

Lucian sitting in shell sand pit in the garden

Students conducted their design exercise at a new location that provided a better opportunities to incorporate sector analysis and innovative ideas.

students vewing the land in order to create a draft permaculture design

More photos on facebook

Darebin's Backyard Harvest Festival - March 2011

Grey Cliffs Permaculture's Kemp St garden was being featured in this year's City of Darebin's Backyard Harvest Festival as an open garden.

"A small [8m by 4.5m or 36m2], low maintenance, permaculture apartment garden with mostly greens and five fruit trees. The gardener is now also cultivating the body corporate area, inspiring involvement of other residents."

The Garden was open on Saturday the 5th of March from 10.30 am to 12.00 pm and received over 20 visitors. The visitors were met by Bryony who explain how the garden was created out of a bare court yard and then discussed different elements of the garden design and make up.

"Visiting our garden was particularly useful for the people who did not had their own productive gardens. They could see how you could take a relatively small area and turn it into a highly productive food growing garden which required limited maintenance and also looked good."

See the latest images of the Kemp Street Garden on

Inaugural Introduction to Permaculture Course

September saw the running of Grey Cliffs Permaculture's first Introduction to Permaculture Course. The course was based at our Otways site and ran over two days with six students. The curriculum included a mix of practical and theory lessons such as history, principles and ethics, functioning of natural systems, sectors and zones, plants, soils, propagation, energy efficient house design, and permaculture design.

Two practical exercises were included which consisted of designing a retrofit of an existing house and producing a permaculture design for a farmlet, both were done in teams.

The purpose of the weekend aside from teaching people permaculture was to trial our lesson and activity plans and see what worked, what didn't and what needed improvement. Despite feeling only 50% as prepared as we should be, the course went really well and was well received by the students. The few issues identified are been fixed and we are looking forward to the next trial courses being run in early December and February prior to running courses open to the general public in 2011.

More images and other stories on

Geoff Lawton Earth Works Course - May 2010

pond near main house

Adrian and Bryony headed up to The Channon in Northern New South Wales this May so Adrian could attended Geoff Lawton's Earth Works Course, while Bryony could take a well earned rest, staying at Eternity Springs and visiting the area with bubs.

dam being built by 25 tonne excavator

The course was great, very practical, and involved building two dams and the interconnecting swales. The students helped sight the dams and then had access to the experience and knowledge of both Geoff and the excellent excavator driver who worked through the process and dealt with issues as they happened. We were fortunate to have a downpour on day two, which did stop construction but allowed us to see the water systems of a Zatuna Farm in full action, and spend a day tromping through swales.

swale filled with water

The food was great, though occasionally on the small side, the farm was very interesting, and there are lots of interesting things to see in the area including the Channon Market, which is a great place to pick up some plants.

group learning to use a lazer leveler

The only bad thing about the course was the ticks.

Visit to Holmgren's Farm - June 2009

We (Bryony and Adrian) decided to pop in and have a look a David Holmgren's farm at Hepburn Springs in Victoria. David runs monthly farm tours.

The tour was very interesting and takes you around a classically designed permaculture property working out from his zone 1, vege patch to the chickens and orchard and finally the creek and pond.

david holmgren giving talk to tour guests

The most interesting element of the day was discussions about rehydration of the landscape, in part, by slowing the water down in the streams by the planting of willows.

dam showing fine suspended solids in water

The day finished of with a lovely afternoon tea and chat about the fires that had recently hit Victoria. There was also a chance to pick up any of David's books and get them signed.

david and sue's food forest

David and his partner, Sue, run separate house and garden tours on a monthly basis. Check out their website for details.

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