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Winner : Rick Hutton

“The Living Classroom is a centre dedicated to regeneration. Regeneration means the re-invigoration of the land, and the passing on of knowledge and inspiration to the next generation. On 150 hectares we have designed, mapped and are building a range of ‘storyboards’ showcasing food systems from across the globe. Recycling is a key theme, and with our ‘raised mandala’ kitchen gardens we have re-used sheets of corrugated iron to form six sided mandala beds, filled with compost over shredded paper, and ‘activated’ to provide a healthy living soil.

Our student participants are active in building the garden beds and planting them with seasonal vegetables. The students have created compost heaps, collected seeds, formed good soil tilth, and have prepared the seed beds for planting. Progressively they have selected plants to provide a cover crop and a green manure, considered seasonal opportunities, planted, mulched and watered the beds through to harvest.”

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2nd Runner Up : Nevin Sweeney

“Our garden is build around Permaculture principles and we grow fruit, veg and herbs as well as producing eggs on our 600m2 block in Western Sydney. We have 14 veg patches 2m or 3m long by 1.2m wide in the back yard. We fertilse, till and remove weeds and trash from the beds with our chook tractor. We also use some compost and liquid comfrey. We also grow vegetables, fruit and herbs in the front yard using tank water where possible. I have installed efficient irrigation such as ollas, buried pipe, buried capsule and deep pipe waterers. We save seed and grow our own seedlings with seed raising mix I make from sand, worm castings and cocopeat. We use grey water to water out banana circle. We have two aerobin composters, a worm bath and a worm tower in the front yard fruit tree circle.”

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3rd Runner Up: Lynette Keir

“My gardens are on a 3 acre block and circumnavigate my home. Our fire pit area is near our native gardens (which are indigenous plantings that attract wildlife) help with erosion control on our creek behind the home. Our sensory herb garden is a classic zone 1 permaculture garden which integrates our children’s play ground. All the materials used were found on the property apart from the sand, in the sand pit. We use balancing logs and rocks. This garden is in direct path to the kitchen and utilises the most frequented herbs and greens along with salad greens for a quick and easy picking. Some natives are also integrated. The children love to pick and smell the herbs too.

Our food gardens have a traditional garden bed, wicking beds and a permaculture food forest where the chickens roam. We grow most of our food and use natural fertilisers made on site. We compost everything. We have a worm farm and a soldier fly farm as well as 3 large composting bays. We used a retainer wall system to gate the front of the compost bays. The beauty here is that they slide out of the front so we can shovel out easier. We also have our own nursery where we propagate our own vegetable seedlings. We also have a native bee hive and miniature goats to help weed and provide manure.”

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3rd Runner Up : John Boland

“The garden was designed on Permaculture principles, integrating food production, native plant areas for habitat, climate control for the house, and aesthetics. Over a year, we produce approximately one third of our food from the garden.

We have swales for water retention, the partial root zone drying water scheme for water conservation, a multitude of waste management systems with compost bins and worm farms. The water retention systems mean we harvest all water that falls on the block. No green waste leaves the site, all being composted. Over sixty fruit and nut trees, intermingled with native plants, have encouraged numerous birds, small mammals like blue tongue lizards and frogs to make their home in the garden. We have honey bee hives, for honey but also to enhance cross pollination. We have also constructed native bee hotels as well as leaving some dead limbs with holes for them.”

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