Introduction to Permaculture and Soil Basics Workshop – Event Wrap Up

Posted in: Events and Workshops, Sustainable Living
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When you plan an event, you always hope for the best, but you can never be sure how things are going to turn out, and you always worry:

  • Will people turn up?
  • Will the presenters be engaging and informative?
  • Will the day run smoothly and will everyone go home happy?

Apparently, we didn’t have to worry about that for this workshop!

Despite it being school holidays, and a whole day event, we had an amazing turnout at the Permaculture and Soils workshop on Saturday 10th January 2015.

In fact, we had people travel from all over the state, from as far away as Denmark and Perth, as well as surrounding communities like Broomehill, Gnowangerup, Highbury and Kojonup to see Charles Otway of Terra Perma Designs and Jolene Otway of Soil Huggers Journey.

Charles opened by explaining what Permaculture is, and then got deeper into the principles of the practice. This was great, because there were a number of us who had a few ‘ah-ha’ moments as he delved into the principles.

Charles Otway from Terra Perma Designs

Charles Otway from Terra Perma Designs

In the afternoon, Jolene shared some insights into soil, which is actually more interesting than you might think at first. In fact, you can head over to her blog and learn more about dirt than you ever thought possible.

And she’s just ‘a beginner’!

Apparently, dirt is complicated! 🙂

Jolene Otway from Soil Huggers Journey

Jolene Otway from Soil Huggers Journey

And then we headed down to the garden at Katanning Primary School where we got to play with dirt.

The soil shake jar test was very popular, and incredibly informative. The different soil profiles really show up in this test, and it’s just so simple. Of course, using the information you gain from it might be more challenging without the useful tools that Charles and Jolene make available on their websites (see about half-way down this page for complete instructions and interpretation of results of the shake jar test).

Jars of dirt lined up. Charles and Jolene Otway

Jars of dirt lined up.
Charles and Jolene Otway

Time at the garden really allowed us to appreciate the unique challenges faced with Australian gardens. Whether you have sandy or clay soils, the heat in the summer really needs to be moderated. The difference between the shade of the tree and the exposed garden beds was significant, and it brings to light Charles’ principle: Observe and Interact with your space. If you’re uncomfortable, your plants will feel the same way!

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Garden Design 101: don’t bake your plants!

After a pleasant day of learning, chatting, and eating (oh my goodness!), we trickled home.

Say Dirt!

Say Dirt!

The event was so well received, we hope we’ll be able to bring them back for a ‘level 2’ type session some time in the future.

And for those who want to know more, here are Charles and Jolene’s notes following the workshop.

TERRA PERMA DESIGN WEBSITE:  
All free workshop notes are available at – —http://www.terraperma.com.au/free-workshop-notes.html

Katanning Workshops:

Other queries:

Soil Hugger Blog Links – includes info discussed, but also Jar shake test details:
Soil Specific References:

Other queries:

If you have any questions or comments about this event, or any other, please let us know. You can leave a comment here or email Andrea.

You can also keep up to date with all the Katanning Landcare happenings by checking out our Facebook page, or subscribing to our e-news updates (sign up form in the right hand margin).

Author: Andrea Salmond

Andrea has been with Katanning Landcare since 2013 and is passionate about equipping people with the tools, skills and resources they need to make positive changes to our environment.


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