The Natural Artisan
CON TENT S 04
CREATIVE ZONE: BEN DEARS
CREATE. DO. INSPIRE!
SUSTAINABLE DESIGN FOR COASTAL LIVING – THE 2016 HIA GREENSMART HOME OF THE YEAR
NATURAL MATERIALS: DISTINCTIVE PERSONALITY FOR RESTAURANTS AND RETAIL
THE FUTURE OF GREEN BUILDING
BRINGING PERMACULTURE INTO THE MAINSTREAM
Cover Image: The 2016 GreenSmart Home of the Year in Northern NSW by Eco-Essence Homes. See story on page 08. Cover Photography: CM Media
Editor: Rebecca Park
Design: Tiam Whitfield
The Natural Artisan: bringing together ‘the creators’ of all kinds to celebrate and share the art of crafting beautiful spaces and objects. We do this with a collective intention to live in tune with nature. As Tolkien said in The Fellowship of the Ring: “We put the thought of all that we love into all that we make.” ROCKCOTE Marrakesh timber look by artisan Ben Dears from Natural Finished Designs (see page 4). Photography: Tiam Whitfield
Published by ROCKCOTE 18 Machinery Road, YANDINA QLD 4561
Photography: Tony Thorogood
This 8 star rating, Green Star accredited home in Kingscliff NSW has won a swag of awards for energy efficiency and sustainability.
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The allure of beachside living draws hundreds of thousands of Australians to our beautiful coastline. Appropriate home design will help us make the most of this lifestyle opportunity.
he 2016 HIA GreenSmart Australia Home of the Year is a model of an eco friendly coastal family home that is accessible, affordable and extremely livable.
Designed by Eco Sustainable House (ESH) and built by Eco-Essence Homes, this quintessential Australian beach house has also taken out the HIA GreenSmart Australian Home of the Year, as well as three other major awards for energy efficiency and sustainability.
“The Cloud” from the “Pacific” range of homes draws on the aesthetic style of a classic beach house while still being homely and contemporary, the eye-catching style brimming with unusual features and lifestyle fundamentals. ESH Design Specialist, Narissa O’Doherty, said the two companies set out to design and build a home with equal devotion to the finer details and functional sustainable design. “The intention was a clear synergy between all elements that offers a truly livable, captivating and eccentric home,” Narissa said.
“We wanted it to stand out, for people to fall in love with it and be proud to call it home. It needed to tick all the boxes from functional and sustainability perspectives but still be affordable and different to your standard project home.” The 300 square metre, 8 star rating, Green Star accredited home was a leap of faith. Eco-Essence Homes General Manager, Jeremy Magee, had conceptualised the home several years earlier, a ‘perfect’ house that the team would describe to prospective clients but none ventured to build. Committed to the concept, ESH designed the home, which was then built as a spec home in Northern NSW by Eco-Essence Homes. The home is now a client favourite and has also recently won the HIA GreenSmart Australian Spec Home of the Year. “People adore it, they love how it feels, they love all the quirky features from the creative nook at the mezzanine level to the old recycled squash court floating floors and the beautiful colonial French timber doors,” Narissa said. CONTINUED
The home features a range of initiatives to help moderate indoor temperatures and reduce energy consumption including natural lighting, passive solar heating and polished concrete floors.
SUSTAINABLE FEATURES The home takes advantage of natural lighting and passive solar heating which means no air conditioning should be required to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures. A mix of double hung and French doors were used to allow maximum control of external breezes. The largest windows and doors face north and have small eave overhangs to exclude the harsh summer sun while allowing the winter sun to work its warming magic. Louvres located in the highest part of the building create adjustable cross ventilation based on the direction of the breeze and expel rising hot air from within the home. An internal thermal mass wall of solid core filled concrete block combined with polished concrete floors in the main living areas absorb and store energy, helping to moderate indoor air temperature. The majority of the products used on the build were 100% recyclable or utilised recycled content. Stewardship agreements with suppliers ensured any offcuts or ‘rubbish’ from the site was returned and recycled. Good Environmental Choice certified products were used extensively on this build with non-toxic EcoStyle Paints by ROCKCOTE used throughout the interior.
“Eco Sustainable House supplied and specified EcoStyle Paints as we are passionate about quality sustainable products and looking after the health and wellbeing of tradespeople, our new home clients and the general public,” Narissa explains. The home encompasses Livable Housing Design Guidelines which link closely to GreenSmart accreditation, making the house accessible and allowing for multiple generations to live under the same roof. Slip resistant level pathways, wide internal doors, grab rails and hobless showers were all fitted as part of the build. While the home has now been sold to a retired couple making a sea change from southern NSW, Narissa says she would have loved the opportunity to live in the coastal abode. “The home would really suit my lifestyle. I love the quirky features. It would be like being on holiday all the time. I would walk through that front door and nothing else would matter.” PROJECT DETAILS “The Cloud” – GreenSmart HIA Home of the Year Location: Tweed Coast, NSW 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Design: Eco Sustainable House Builder: Eco-Essence Homes
Painter (ROCKCOTE EcoStyle Paints): Godden Painting Pty Ltd Photography: CM Media
Furniture: Tailored Space Interiors
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The mezzanine retreat is spacious yet cosy. All interior walls and ceilings were painted with zero VOC, GECA certified EcoStyle Paints.
Design considerations for coastal living THE COASTAL ENVIRONMENT IS A NATURAL, MESMERISING LANDSCAPE YET AT THE SAME TIME, HARSH, UNFORGIVING AND CORROSIVE. For this reason, it is important to think carefully about the design features included in a coastal home and the materials used to achieve them, especially when striving for a sustainable home, according to Narissa. Block selection: “Block selection is one of the most important things in sustainable design. Ideally we want to place all the services and utilities down the western side to provide shading for the rest of the home like we have in the Cloud. Living spaces and bedrooms are positioned to capture north easterly breezes in summer,” explains Narissa. Exterior materials: The selection of cladding or exterior materials that enhance appearance while withstanding the unforgiving coastal exposure, such as the cladding chosen for this build, is critical for the longevity of the home.
Lifestyle: Bringing the outside in and the inside out is a common lifestyle aspiration in more moderate Australian climates. The Cloud does this beautifully with a wrap-around verandah that provides ample space to soak in the sea breezes and plenty of windows and doors with views to the gardens. Protection: Many coastal suburbs are exposed to ferocious winds off the ocean. Creating shelter from this unpleasant coastal characteristic can make or break the design of a coastal abode. “A protected outdoor area where inhabitants can sit back and enjoy the outdoor lifestyle while still being protected from the wind is important in a coastal build,” says Narissa. “It is optimum to include a north-facing deck and select a roofing material that will allow the winter sun to access the living spaces but block out the harsh summer sun.” Outdoor shower and storage: An outdoor shower and suitable storage for both little and big kids’ toys are important aspects of building to embrace the coastal lifestyle with outdoor showers one of the most popular requests from ESH clients.
Earthen Render Coarse on a wall and pillar in a Gold Coast Nandos restaurant, applied by Luke Russell. Photography: Ross Eason
"NATURAL MATERIALS ARE TRULY UNIQUE AND ALLOW THE ARTISAN TO CRAFT A RANGE OF FINISHES THAT ARE ONLY LIMITED BY YOUR IMAGINATION." - Tony Thorogood
DISTINCTIVE PERSONALITY FOR RESTAURANTS AND RETAIL
As shops, cafés and restaurants strive to create unique spaces where people want to spend time, interest in traditional plaster finishes is flourishing.
arthy rustic aesthetics, reflective polished finishes and the urban industrial look are three themes continually popping up in bakeries, bars and hipster cafés across the country. Retail stores have also taken up the challenge with many lifestyle,
adventure and surf stores moving away from standard paint and plastic fit-outs to more thoughtfully designed spaces. Bespoke furniture, recycled timbers, lime washed bricks, repurposed steel, bold patterns and natural textures are regularly appearing, with natural plasters the ideal complement to these eclectic spaces.
The Natural Artisan
Venetian Plaster by Angelo Anagnostellis
Otsumigaki by Bruce Allen
Incredibly beautiful, inviting to touch and refreshingly artistic, the number of looks that can be achieved with ROCKCOTE’s Natural Materials range is limitless. With no toxins or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), these lime and clay based plasters help to improve indoor air quality and create a healthier environment for staff and patrons. Drawing on the traditions of the original master artisans of Europe and the Orient who applied wall plasters by hand, these wet plaster products are applied by passionate modern artisans trained in their application. From the glass-like polish of Venetian Plaster through to the textured rustic look of Earthen Render, Natural Materials are versatile and help bring a distinctive personality to each project, according to ROCKCOTE Natural Materials specialist, Tony Thorogood. “Natural Materials are truly unique and allow the artisan to craft a range of finishes that are only limited by your imagination. Architects and designers have the creative freedom to conceive a concept that can be expertly brought to life by a skilled artisan.” Nandos restaurants in Queensland have embraced the range, the handcrafted geometric patterned ROCKCOTE Clay Plaster Décor walls featuring in the Winter 2016 issue of The Natural Artisan. A bold concrete-look ROCKCOTE Marrakesh bar and dining table make a statement at Etsu Izakaya Japanese bar and restaurant on the Gold Coast, while an Earthen Render and Clay Plaster Décor blend add character to the 68 rooms in the award-winning Hotel Hotel in Canberra’s New Acton precinct.
Clay Plaster Decor by John Bint
CREATE YOUR DISTINCTIVE LOOK “Retail environments and shops are using Natural Materials to achieve a more earthy and natural look,” according to Artisan Luke Russell from Trowel Art. “Each product is extremely versatile and the range can be used to achieve a variety of looks and finishes from rustic to industrial to a raw stony effect.” Venetian Plaster: a highly polished finish with dramatic effects. Venetian Plaster offers a unique way to highlight products against a mirror finish while creating the appearance of a larger, more open space. Suitable for feature walls, columns and ceilings as well as exterior faҫades and entry areas. Marrakesh: a graceful, seamless finish ideal for handcrafted and decorative feature walls, columns, stairwells, fireplace surrounds and reception desks. Create a smooth off-form concrete look for walls or a distressed concrete look for bars and bench tops. The sophistication of marble can be achieved for columns and faҫades. Otsumigaki: a dreamier, pearly, lustrous finish that creates the perception of textural depth in a smooth, flat surface. Otsumigaki has a subtle elegance that gives walls life yet allows the surrounding elements to speak for themselves. Ideal for full interiors, features and ceilings. Clay Plaster Décor: adds textural warmth. With a higher build than lime based Marrakesh and Venetian Plaster, Clay Plaster Décor can be expertly moulded into creative shapes. Wheat, straw, marble and shells can be added for interesting effects. For interior use only. Earthen Render (Medium and Coarse): for a softer, more rustic aesthetic, clay combined with hemp or straw will draw people in, so intrigued by the texture that they just want to reach out and touch. Tinted to concrete grey, Earthen Render works well where an industrial yet rustic look is sought. For interior use only. CONTINUED
"Nishi Blend" combining Earthen Render and Clay Plaster Décor was created for use in the 68 rooms of the award-winning Hotel Hotel in Canberra's New Acton precinct. Artisan: Paul Geach. Photography: Ross Honeysett
1. THE PLANNING PHASE A light bulb moment from an architect, designer or store owner is often the starting point for concept development, the idea gaining momentum through research, pin boards, magazines and looks seen elsewhere. With timeframes tight on shop fit-outs, an artisan is usually appointed quickly. The artisan works with the client to determine the best product to achieve the desired look, then provides samples of the preferred colours and finishes. Creative or unusual finishes involve more communication and take longer to finalise. A combination of Natural Materials products work together as a system to suit most substrates but it is worthwhile speaking to the artisan or ROCKCOTE to determine if a particular substrate should be specified to deliver the optimum result. For cafés, restaurants, and retail stores most Natural Materials are suitable for interior broad wall areas, ceilings and features but not suitable for commercial grade food environments, doors or cupboard doors. Being lime based, Marrakesh and Venetian Plaster can also be used externally and can effectively create continuity of a look from the outside to the inside. Artisan, Luke Russell has created this effect with Venetian Plaster at the Gold Coast’s new Yum Cha restaurant (see page 16).
Marrakesh is suitable for service counters, bars and splashbacks, however it requires 28 days to cure and the surface cannot be used during this time. Extra time needs to be allowed for Marrakesh benchtops and serving areas. Luke Russell says clear communication creates an understanding that these specialist finishes cost more than painted finishes and artisans need time and space to work their magic. “A lot of builders don’t understand the timeframes involved in application of some of these products,” he said. “Normally a painting package will take two days. Natural Materials are applied by hand and can require up to four passes in each location so plenty of time is needed to apply the products and fit other trades in around us,” he said. One of the most compelling aspects of Natural Materials by ROCKCOTE is their developing aesthetics. Some lime plaster products, such as Marrakesh, will patina over time offering an enhanced character with lighter and darker sections. PLANNING: yy Work with the artisan to determine product, colour and finish yy Consider the best substrate for the optimum finish yy Plan the job to ensure adequate time for application and curing
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Venetian Plaster wall and ceiling by Luke Russell
The concrete look Marrakesh bar makes a statement at Etsu Izakaya on the Gold Coast. Photography: Ross Eason
2. WORKING ON THE JOB
3. CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE
Achieving a quality fit-out in a tight timeframe is always challenging and experienced artisans know what is required to meet a deadline.
Natural Materials harden as they cure with lime plasters achieving a harder surface than clay plasters. With the right care, walls and surfaces will continue to withstand the punishing retail environment for many years to come.
“We normally go through and do a pre-patch on plasterboard and check the substrate is ready for the application of the plaster,” said Luke. “The site needs to be clean with no dust which is especially important when doing the last couple of coats. Any dust or foreign objects coming into contact with the surface can wreck the finish resulting in costly rectification work,” he said.
Generally, gentle cleaning with a soft cloth and mild detergent is enough to maintain the surface. No harsh chemical cleaners or bleaches should be applied and scrubbing should be avoided. Any severe marks or scratches should be referred to the artisan for touching up.
The artisan will ask in advance about the location of fixtures or fittings so holes can be predrilled prior to product application to reduce the risk of cracking.
At the end of each job, the artisan will provide detailed information about how to care for the surface and what to do if there is an issue.
Time needs to be allowed for surfaces to dry and cure. To prevent damage, trades needs to be advised not to touch or lean anything against the surface during this time.
CARING FOR THE SURFACE:
Often artisans will request night access to enjoy free rein of the space and ensure ideal conditions for application. For exterior jobs, consideration needs to be given to weather as the heat of direct sun can hinder application. ON THE JOB: yy Work with the artisan to plan the job yy Effective communication with other trades is essential yy Dust, shavings etc. will affect the finish
yy Do not use harsh chemicals or bleaches yyThe artisan will provide care information
SPECIFICATIONS ROCKCOTE recommends obtaining a dedicated specification for each Natural Materials project. Specifications are complimentary and can be obtained by 1300 736 668 or email email@example.com. CONTINUED
yy Protect the surface while it dries and cures
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The grand Venetian Plaster façade of the Yum Cha restaurant is a striking homage to contemporary Asian-Australian design. The sophisticated style in this restaurant at Pacific Fair Shopping Centre on the Gold Coast reflects the upmarket approach being taken by more restaurants in urban shopping precincts. A flagship restaurant of the growing Yum Cha franchise, the attention to detail in the design and execution creates a gratifying experience for the diner. Yum Cha restaurants aim to bring the ancient dining custom of yum cha, as well as fine Chinese cuisine, to relaxing Australian locations. There are currently 14 Yum Cha Cuisine and Yum Cha Noodle Haus outlets throughout the Gold Coast and Brisbane with more on the way. The restaurant fit-out features ROCKCOTE Venetian Plaster extensively on the exterior and interior. The Kinky Camel colour carries through from the al fresco space to large areas of the restaurant creating a consistent theme throughout. Gold powdercoated trims, black highlights and traditional Chinese dolls and decorations complement the Venetian Plaster to deliver an authentic Asian ambiance. Artisan Luke Russell (pictured below left) said the 250 square metres of Venetian Plaster finishes took him and a colleague almost two weeks to complete. “The architect originally specified concrete coloured polished plaster. We had already started the job when the client saw a sample board I created in Kinky Camel and immediately requested we change the colour. This colour goes so well with the gold and bronze trims and gives the space a warm and inviting feel,’ he said. The patina created by the artisans brings out lighter and darker areas giving the finish a handcrafted, tailored look that cannot be achieved with tiles, paint or wallpaper. “The owner wanted a swirl type effect but with a few trowel marks and lines visible for interest. The polishing process brings out a lot of the little features which adds character," Luke said. GET THE LOOK Yum Cha Restaurant, Pacific Fair, Gold Coast
Finish: Polished Venetian Plaster (over ROCKCOTE Velvetino). Beeswax for waterproofing exterior finishes.
Colour: Kinky Camel
Artisan: Luke Russell, Trowel Art (pictured left)
Photography: Ross Eason
by Rebecca Park
The perception that green building is for high-end projects is the main obstacle to further developing sustainable buildings in Australia according to a recent study.
he World Green Building Trends 2016 report looked extensively at green building development across the globe, covering opportunities and barriers as well as economic and social drivers.
More than 1000 respondents from 69 developed and developing countries took part in the survey, conducted in 2015. Participants included architecture and design professionals, builders and consultants. The study defined “Green Building” as “a construction project that is either certified under any recognised global green rating system or built to qualify for certification.” 1 The report drew on similar surveys from 2008 and 2012 to make comparisons and projections. Key findings indicate “global green building continues to double every three years” and “emerging economies like Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa will be engines of growth in the next three years.” 2 Green building accounted for almost a quarter of construction activity across all respondents (note however the participants were largely drawn from industry bodies associated with green building). Australia came in above the global average with 34% of Australian activity reported as green. 3 18
DRIVERS AND OBSTACLES The study reported that green buildings offered significant operational cost savings compared with traditional buildings and commanded a substantial increase in asset value (7%) over traditional buildings. 5 The report emphasised the importance of economic factors as key drivers for green building, encouraging the industry to continue demonstrating the positive financial and business impacts through reliable figures. The most common metrics are: yy demonstrating lower operating costs (such as energy and total lifestyle costs); yy documentation and certification providing quality assurance; and yy higher value at point of sale. 6 Aggregated across all markets, client demand was the number one driver for global green building activity, a figure that continues to increase in each survey. Client demand was previously a strong driver here in Australia but the need to comply with Government legislation is now the key incentive. Healthier neighbourhoods were also a top trigger for Australian respondents with figures double the global average. 7
Both Australian (42%) and UK (40%) respondents cited the perception that green building was for high-end projects as a major obstacle, although this was less of a hindrance in other locations. Higher initial costs was one of the top three obstacles for most other countries, with lack of public awareness and lack of political support or incentives also factoring highly. 8
INFORMATION AND PRODUCT SELECTION Not surprisingly, 60% of global respondents selected the Internet as their most relied upon source for green building information, although this decreased from previous years (77% in 2012 and 78% in 2008). Conversely, information obtained directly from product manufacturers has increased from 32% in 2008 to 39%, potentially indicating a shift in consumer sentiment towards manufacturers offering ecofriendly options. 9 By 2020, 63% of respondents were expecting that electrical products would be a key component of green projects compared with 54% in 2015. This correlates closely with the need for metrics demonstrating lower energy costs.
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“CERTIFIED UNDER A RECOGNISED GLOBAL GREEN RATING SYSTEM OR BUILDING TO QUALIFY FOR CERTIFICATION”
Thermal and moisture protection was a close second with 62% of respondents indicating it will be a factor in 2020 compared with 53% in 2015. Finishes also rated highly with 51% of respondents indicating they would be looking to green finishes to help achieve environmental certification by 2020. 10 Australia’s green market was described as “stable and mature”. The survey indicated that while we can expect to see an increase in the number of green projects between now and 2020, growth is likely to be generated from companies already operating in this sector. 11 New low-rise residential (between one and three floors), followed by retrofits of existing buildings and institutional construction (schools, hospitals and public buildings) are key areas of projected growth. Bucking another global trend, Australia along with the UK, is forecasting the lowest level of green building on commercial projects. 12
37% EXPECTED TO DO MORE THAN 60% OF THEIR PROJECTS GREEN BY 2018
AUSTRALIA HAS A ‘STABLE AND MATURE’ GREEN MARKET NEW LOW-RISE RESIDENTIAL (1-3 FLOORS)
RETROFITS OF EXISTING BUILDINGS
INSTITUTIONAL CONSTRUCTION (SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS, PUBLIC BUILDINGS)
NOT AFFORDABLE AND FOR HIGH LEVEL PROJECTS ONLY AUSTRALIA 42%
HIGHER PERCEIVED FIRST COSTS AUSTRALIA 30%
KEY DRIVERS OF GREEN BUILDING 30%
Environmental Regulations..46% Healthier Neighbourhoods...30% Client Demands..................27% Higher Building Values........27%
Client Demands..................40% Environmental Regulations..35% Market Demands................30% Lower Operating Cost..........23%
References: Dodge Data & Analytics: SmartMarket Report, World Green Building Trends 2016. Find the full report at www.fidic.org
1. p.64 2. p. 1 3. p. 9 4. p. 1 5. p. 1 6. p. 51
7. pp. 5 & 47 8. p. 6 9. p. 61 10. p. 59 11. p. 46 12. p. 11
ELECTRICAL....................................... 63% THERMAL AND MOISTURE PROTECTION .... 62% BUILDING AUTOMATION SYSTEMS........... 59% WASTE MANAGEMENT ......................... 56% FINISHES.......................................... 51%
Words: Rebecca Park
Images: Danial Lawton
A curious Danial Lawton began to observe the interconnectedness of nature and the relationship between humans and our environment from a young age.
urrounded by permaculture wisdom (his father is a passionate permaculturist and educator who started Permaculture Noosa), Danial grew up immersed in a permaculture lifestyle and experimentation here and overseas.
It seems he was destined to work in the field, early observations paving the way for more formal education including Masters degrees in Environmental Management and Environmental Engineering. Danial is now a consultant with global experience in permaculture development as well as the organic gardener at ROCKCOTE on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
At the age of 13, Danial spent three months in Ecuador with his father. While there he attended his first Permaculture Design Course along with 80 other students from 24 different countries. The 20
only blonde haired, blue-eyed person in a remote area near Tena in the upper reaches of the Amazon, young Danial developed an affinity with the locals, fascinated by the tribal way of life. “Even at that age, I began to explore how the networking and patterning structures seen in the environment can help you understand your own situation and landscape. Sitting with some of the locals and hearing them explain what they had observed over generations about the way everything in the forest was interconnected has stayed with me,” Danial says. The hunter-gatherers were learning farming and permaculture to work in harmony with nature: “they had a deep understanding of the forest and the importance of not taking too much to ensure the forest could sustain itself. The forest provided everything and everything should go back to the forest.” The Natural Artisan
Blonde haired, blue-eyed young Danial Lawton surveying land with fellow permaculturists in Tena, Ecuador.
UNDERSTANDING PATTERNS An appreciation of the function of patterns helps a permaculturist apply experience and information gleaned from one project to a similar situation on the other side of the world. While processes remain fairly consistent, the understanding of patterns and their application is key to successful permaculture design. “Once you start to see and use patterns, everything becomes clearer, not just in permaculture but in life,” Danial said. “Patterns are in nature, patterns are social, and there are patterns in our own lives. To understand and recognise the repetition of patterns can completely change your life because you will start to see things you’ve never seen before.” While people tend to become hung up on the names of plants, especially for identification purposes, Danial uses the concept of patterns to understand
the function and process of plants, which he says has greater significance than names. This was emphasised during a consultancy in Costa Rica where locals reflected on how fortunate Australians were to have access to a broad range of legume shrubs such as Pigeon Pea. Being in the tropics, the community was surrounded by such plants with Danial walking the three kilometers from town to the farm where he was working, and collecting 18 similar species along the way. Half of those were in flower or seed with three almost identical to Pigeon Pea in branch structure, leaf patterning and flower. “Recognising the pattern of the leaf structure allowed me to identify the type of plant and the flower. The patterns tell me how it is growing and how it can be used. The name is irrelevant,” Danial explained. CONTINUED
THE ROLE OF OBSERVATION Understanding patterns involves taking the time to observe and scrutinise. ‘Observe and interact’ is the first principle of permaculture: “by taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation”. (1) Danial explains that we should “observe to understand the patterns, functions and processes that occur” and observation for an entire season is recommended before picking up a shovel. “Observation doesn’t always have to be in the garden, it can be at the local pub. In the country, you can talk to the old folks who have seen the cycles – that gives you a shortcut so you know what to look for.” This approach translates easily to home vegetable gardens by observing what happens at various times of year. Certain pests will appear one season but disappear the next; in some locations, plants will suffer fungal problems in the wet season; and some varieties will grow well in one area of the garden but not in others so it is best to let nature inform your planting. "You can't fight nature, you have to work with it," says Danial.
THE CHALLENGES After witnessing the value permaculture can bring to a society and communities, Danial is an advocate for decentralisation and bringing permaculture into the mainstream. “Many people in permaculture are really antimainstream but the only way to incorporate yourself into the system or replace it is to prove that your system is better. To do that we have to work by their rules. Their rules are science and engineering so that’s where we should be operating,” he explains. “During a permaculture design course, I came across one person who was going to throw away his career as a policy writer in Canberra to live the permaculture life. I said to him ‘How do you think you are going to make change? You write policy for the government. You can make change now. I want you to keep your job and have as much influence as you can from the inside.’ You could see the light bulb come on in his head.”
Centralisation of agriculture and our food supply pose concerning risks for Danial who says that there is mounting evidence problems on large farms can result in food shortages. Smaller farms offer more diversity and integration and if established on permaculture principles can have a lower environmental impact. He sees community and business based initiatives such as community gardens and ROCKCOTE’s permaculture garden as opportunities to educate people about having a different relationship with the earth.
"Many people in permaculture are really anti-mainstream but the only way to incorporate yourself into the system or replace it is to prove that your system is better" - Danial Lawton ROCKCOTE’s garden, located at the Yandina Head Office site, consists of vegetable garden beds, hugely popular chickens, a bug hotel, bees, composting toilets and an outdoor BBQ area with wood fired oven. But the garden has brought value far beyond vegetables, eggs and a place for staff to eat lunch. Initially people were reluctant to go into the garden and were even a little scared to take home vegetables they had never eaten. Over time, they have seen that compost toilets don’t smell and composting systems don’t attract vermin. Little chooks don’t come out of home grown, organic eggs and they taste amazing! Now, team leaders are proudly showing the garden off to new employees. “People think it is just a garden but the garden isn’t what I really do here,” says Danial of his role. “I regularly give people advice for their home gardens and have conversations about other things such as the environment and our food supply and this is what is taken away. Learning changes the way people see the world; then they talk to others who also make changes, which has an ongoing effect. That’s where the magic is.” (1) https://permacultureprinciples.com/principles/_1/
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