Permie + Pizza = Progress

We’ve always had it in mind to use Dreamland as a permaculture demonstration and teaching site. The first step towards this was to host a Permie Get-Together – basically to get all the permaculture brains and experience to our place for a social and a bit of a “peer review” before we opened it up to any public. Now how do I summarise this exciting event in a single post?

It’s a bit of crazy time of the year in permaculture circles, with a lot of other events going on. But rather than postpone until the new year, we decided to bite the bullet, pick a date and go ahead. On the Saturday there were already three events on of interest to our target audience (thank you for the heads up, Wendy), so we settled for the Sunday. We should’ve checked better, because our normally dead quiet neighbours – a primary school – had their yearly fete on the Sunday with lots of screaming kids, loud music and big noisy rides. Anyway, distractions aside, I think it all worked out OK.

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Even though we wanted to carry on with “business as usual” and not prepare specially for the event, still a lot went into preparations. We kept Grammy busy with “a few” extra name boards, prepared some signage and most importantly, I had to learn how to operate the wood fire pizza oven. Fortunately Gaë, the previous owner who built the pizza oven, offered to teach me before the weekend. As fate would have it, my teaching day was on the first heatwave of the summer. Anyway, we made and enjoyed pizza in the heat.

Of course, this event wouldn’t have been possible without my family’s support. Patricia prepared pizza toppings and did a million things without being asked. Markus is currently saving up for a drum set, so he exploited the situation as much as possible by trying to do any conceivable semi-related little job for as much money as possible. He even tried that I should rent “his” Wyandottes to work in the chook tractor over the weekend!

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Markus and Stripe

The Saturday before the day was one of the windiest days I have encountered in our area. Between gusts in excess of 50km/h and some heavy downpours, we had to carry on with composting, chopping wood for the pizza oven, raising the fence between Homeland and Dreamland to keep Midnight (AKA flappy AKA “the karate kid”) away from Tiara (AKA wha-wha), both Scot Grey roosters.

Sunday morning dawned quite pleasant. However, despite the raised fence, Midnight was on Tiara’s side again, and Tiara was looking a bit worse for wear, so between getting the pizza fire going and getting signs out on the street, I still had to catch and send the fleet-footed Karate Kid home – and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of one of his kicks. Anyway, the whole pizza baking exercise was a lot of fun. It’s not as easy as Gaë made it sound to keep a small fire going on either side of four pizzas in the oven, but with a few adjustments we made it work. Thankfully there weren’t too many people, as we would have run out of oven steam, but it all worked out OK. We “cheated” a bit and got (healthy organic locally-supplied) pizza bases, but Wendy showed us how make and first bake the base and then bake it with toppings on.

We had a really nice crowd over, from the stalwarts in the Geelong permie and transition streets circles – Goshen, Wendy, Monica and Ross Lander, all the way to young people who have hardly ever seen permaculture in action. Liz, one of my teacher training classmates drove all the way over from Ballarat. Really nice, friendly and interesting and interested people – all very supportive of the dream we’re trying to etch out.

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Some of the “crew”

After a long social lunch, we went for a long walkabout through Dreamland and Homeland. It is the first time we did a guided walking tour, and it was quite fun to do, almost putting things in perspective for ourselves too.

Sometimes you get too busy and involved “doing” – this was good to observe from other peoples’ viewpoints. We had some really interesting discussions and questions along the way – even briefly ducking in under the chook food preparation shelter to wait for a rain squall to pass.

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“Do chooks really deter the lorikeets from destroying all the nuts?”

In fact, we were really lucky with the weather – as we got back to Dreamland for a round circle debrief, it started bucketing down so hard we could hardly hear ourselves speak! We had a really interesting discussion on ways to make a permaculture-based living, using interns and various approaches to training, some improvements we would have to make at Dreamland before we would teach to a bigger crowd in the venue and a few more related topics. We have always been concerned that Dreamland’s location was a drawback, but that didn’t come up in the discussions – in fact, people highlighted the proximity to the You Yangs and public transport as quite advantageous.

Being the first time we did this, I was quite apprehensive about it all – like on Sunday morning I got that “why am I doing this?” question in my mind – but I guess it was just my hyper-introvert little mind complaining ahead of all the interaction! In retrospect, I am so happy we did it. Not only was it a first step to open our permaculture-principled dream to others, and we had good discussions about options going forward, but we met and interacted with such nice people too. That was so heart-warming – despite all the doom and gloom out there, there are some really great, interesting and interested people around.

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Goshen and Jack exploring the driveway “orchard”

I’ve put mostly people photos here, because we publish a lot about the place in our normal posts. A big thank you to Monica from Transition Streets Geelong for the photos and great review posts afterwards too. If I ever need a PR agent in this field, I’ll know who to give the job to.

Well, now it is onwards and forwards – fasten your seat belts and subscribe to our blog for more on our exciting journey!



About (207 Articles)
My name is Martin Rennhackkamp, I now live happily in Lara, Victoria, Australia with my wife, two children and two dogs. My interests, apart from the obvious Organic, Biodynamic and Permaculture Gardening and Farming, include sustainable living, surfing, horse-riding, a wide variety of music, dancing, nature, birds, reading, Christianity and a few other things which I never get to...

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