A PERMACULTURE perma-smile
Backyard & Garden Design Ideas|Issue #17.6
This edible oasis feeds a family’s bodies and minds, as well as inspiring the local community
Angela Young

To say Ben Shaw’s 650sqm Geelong backyard has undergone a revolution is probably something of an understatement. More than a decade ago, the 43-year-old father of two set about transforming his house into “an edible garden oasis”, embarking on a journey into permaculture from which he hasn’t looked back.

“I had a clear vision to grow healthy, diverse and nutritious food for my family and friends and I wanted everyone to know that they could do the same,” he says. “The benefits were clear back then and even clearer today — locally grown food is great for families, the community and our environment.”

The first couple of years spent clearing, weeding, chopping and attempting to grow various edibles taught Ben he needed more than just enthusiasm for his project to succeed, so he set about studying a permaculture design course, which turned out to be a game-changer. “Now I had some tools, techniques and, more importantly, the inspiration to turn our backyard into something really special,” he recalls.

A mid-project sojourn to South America opened Ben’s eyes to the problems the planet was facing due to man’s abuse of the natural world. “Whether it be mining, logging or agriculture — as a people, we are slowly destroying the ecosystem that’s meant to sustain us,” he says. His project then took on even deeper meaning, with Ben vowing to spread the message of permaculture and encourage people to grow food sustainably.

BEN’S TOP TIPS

1 Use and value resources close by. Most of my garden is built from salvaged bluestones, bricks, sleepers and rocks

2 Aim to have as much diversity in your garden as possible

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