Category Archives: Introductions

Out going interns

Milkwood internship officially came to a close on Monday, three months have passed and it is hard to look back and believe that this all just happened.
I arrived out here with the desire to learn more about permaculture, what is permaculture? And what does it mean to be a permaculturlist?

I had always wished that I had grown up on a farm, nature has always fascinated me and the idea that you could keep a horse in your “backyard” thrilled me.

Life has kept me in the city, kitchens, restaurants, cafes, friends, family, lovers, music, dancing, food, wine, opportunity, endless possibilities, everything you need right there at your finger tips.
It’s amazing, I can not deny that.

I visited my grandmother a few weeks before coming out to milkwood, my family are migrant Italians and arrived here in the late fifties. My grandmother is 86 years old and still doesn’t speak English.
During our conversation she asked what I was to be doing out here, the word permaculture doesn’t exist in her vocabulary, so I just said I was going to learn how to be a farmer.
My grandmother grew up working the land in the south of Italy, her only real memory of farming was post war hardship, so of corse her reaction was with shock a disappointment.

Working outdoors under the warming sun, growing food to feed our families and share with community, raising animals to provide companionship, food and energy, managing the forests to ensure that timber needed to warm our homes, provide us with energy and build structures in our community could always come locally and be renewed, growing up with multi generations, having family, friends and community around to share and exchange skills and education with, managing the land so as to ensure that we passed it on in better condition then we found it.
Since when did we decide that these actions were not noble?

Permaculture = permanent culture = permanent agriculture = farmer = family = people = community = food, nutrition and energy from a sustainable resource = humans co-existing with their environment = life.

I have found inspiration and positive direction out here at milkwood. Thank you Kirsten and Nick for manifesting and materializing this place, your commitment to people care, land care and fair share is awesome.
To all my fellow interns, teachers and colleagues come great friends, it has been an amazing pleasure to connect with you all, sharing stories and gaining new one together, thank-you. Admiral Couling, thank you for your energy, enthusiasm and grounding nature. Trevor, three words for you, wisdom, intellect, carer, you are an indispensable part of community. And in the famous words of Eugenio Gras our bio-fert guru, Rosalita es un amore!!! Rose you have been amazing and at the epicenter of our existence here, thank you for nourishing us!

To all future Interns, don’t forget to bring a good pair of gloves, a positive and enthusiastic can do nature, and a good appetite.










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A shot of permaculture espresso to last a long way

Juergen and I are on a Permaculture Tour, travelling around Australia to connect and learn from amazing people and projects on the ground. Back in Malaysia, we had a small permaculture education & demonstration site, where we ran the first PDC in Malaysia. We organised 2 other courses the following year in 2010, and interest in permaculture has been growing steadily since! However, we do have a long way to go. When I look at how permaculture has taken off around the world and compare it to Malaysia, we are but a tiny sprout finding its roots. The time is right, but the soil is in need of some ecological, and perhaps even some geographical intervention 😉

Considering the fact that Malaysia and Australia are close neighbours, I have often wondered why hardly any of the worldwide permaculture action ever found its way into my teeny little country, less than one twentieth the size of Australia.We may be blessed with one of the world’s oldest rainforests, and recognised as one of the 12 mega biodiversity countries in the world, but it’s fast disappearing! According to the most recent report by Wetlands International, forest destruction in Malaysia is three times faster than all of Asia combined! During the last five years alone, we’ve lost 10% of our forests, and one third (872,263 acres) of our carbon sequestering peatlands to mass palm oil cultivation.

Needless to say, most Malaysians have no idea as to what they’re loosing, and could benefit from a strong shot of FAIR SHARE permaculture ESPRESSO! We Malaysians have much catching up to do, and I’m here to make some of it it happen. By the time I finish my six, hopefully nine months of permaculture travels in Australia, I hope to establish a strong network with folks here, and look at how we can build a permaculture bridge from Australia all the way to Malaysia. Already, we have established connections with several Malaysian NGOs, government bodies and universities that are very interested in incorporating permaculture in one way or another, and I am keen to see how some of these needs can be addressed through a collaborative effort.

Education and awareness building, as well as having working models on the ground is crucial to the success of mass permaculture infiltration. Importing teachers to conduct our PDCs has been both enriching and inspiring. To grow deep and far reaching roots, we will need to build local resilience and have locally grown permaculture teachers and doers. I’m working towards becoming a teacher myself, and intend to start working on my permaculture teachers diploma during our trip; looking at different models and approaches to permaculture education, and how it is taught to a diverse cross section of learners with varying needs, and learning outcomes. I recently did a Teachers Training with Rosemarry Morrow, a wonderful source of inspiration that led me to believe that there’s nothing more exiting and fulfilling as empowering people to realise the wisdom within themselves… which in a nut shell, is exactly what permaculture is all about.

So, here I am at Milkwood, stop no.1 on our permaculture tour, feeling very at home despite the occasional 0 to -5 degrees chills. It feels like I’m at the right place at the right time, with a great bunch of people, and ample opportunities to be, to learn and to share. Thanks Nick and Kirsten for choosing us for this much sought after internship spot.

a morning cuppa and Kirsten's wooly mammoth keeps me warm

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Sanks Wose

For me food has always been synonymous with people.

Ashar is Kirsten and Nick’s beautiful little boy and he LOVES Rose, infact we all love Rose as she is the amazingly talented chef who nourishes us three times a day here at Milkwood.

Ashar is amazing, he is a great little talker and addresses us all by name each time we converse. Adam is Adam, Claire, Claire, Sabina, Sabina and he even nails my name which puts him about 100 miles in front of most people as the majority mispronounce Olivier, but not Ashar. That privledge is saved for Rose, or in the articulation of a two and a half year old, Wose!

I met Rose almost 8 years ago. She was 20 years old and into the second year of her chefs apprenticeship. She was a fairly shy girl with not always a lot to say. We got along pretty much straight away and I have been fortunate enough to share a friendship with her ever since!

Rose loves food, she loves people, she loves kids and is passionate about nature, gardening and especially nutrition. Rose is very artistic and once drew a picture for me as a gift, I framed it.
She has an amazing smile and a contagious laugh, in fact she is a great candidate for bad jokes as she laughs at lots of things easily, often cracking herself up!
When Rose talks about food she gesticulates with her fingers using them as if she was picking salad or putting the final touch to a dish. She is a quiet achiever.

When you know and believe in good food you want to share it with people, in fact I would say that most of the greatest cooks I know in this world love sharing their talent. Rose is one of these people, and don’t we all feel richer and fatter for it!

I have attached a pic of Rose with her daily bake, sourdough bread! She rocked up with the “mother” on her first day here and has been nurturing it and nourishing us since.

At lunch today we ate savory pumpkin tart with a beetroot and sweet potato salad, delicious, thanks Rose, or in the words of young Ashar, Sanks Wose!





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From Melbourne to Milkwood

My name is Claire, I may be 890km from home but I have travelled less than that of my fellow interns, and boy is it worth the distance. I arrived at Milkwood just under 3 weeks ago and already I have learnt so much and am relishing in being part of such an amazing community of people. So why am I here?

I’m following my dream!

I have been nursing for the past 15 years and have seen no improvement in peoples health, we were always treating the symptoms, always in crisis management, always pushing pharmaceuticals as the way to better health. It didn’t sit right with me, I wanted a better solution, I wanted a healthier planet, healthier people, a healthier lifestyle for myself and to belong to a community. So my journey begins…

I completed my PDC in Walkamin, Far North Queensland in Sept 2010, after a chance meeting with the course convener and a chat about compost showers. After the course, I was hooked. I flew back to Melbourne, sold my house near the city, and headed off in search my my little piece of land to grow my dream. I found it in November, and at the end of January 2011 I was the proud owner of a 101 acres in Lake Fyans, at the foot of the Grampians National Park, Victoria, and declared, “I’m going to be a farmer!”

Which is why I’m here at Milkwood. To get hands on experiences, learn from the best in the business, improve my design skills, design my farm, add as many skills to my kit bag as I can and meet as many like minded people to share with as I can.

Then it’s off to my farm, Planet Claire, to implement my design and start living the dream. I want to become a leading example of regenerative, self-sustaining, chemical free, non-certified organic farming and share my knowledge with the wider community. Empowering and encouraging my community to be healthy, and ensuring myself, my family, and my friends (and our children’s, children’s, children’s children) have a paradise to enjoy that provides them with all there needs for a long, healthy, peaceful life.

I hope you enjoy the journey with me,


Making clay render for the tiny house, the locals pay us a visit, designing a water overflow management system then implementing that design, getting dirty cleaning and re-cobbing the rocket shower!


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Meatloaf madness

Just a quick little group photo of the beautiful people that are the Milkwood Interns. We call this one a meatloaf hug.

Oh and that is me, enjoying my Yerba mate morning ritual.



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A walk in the woods, introducing Olivier

What a glorious day, and a busy one to begin the week. This is my first post on the Milkwood intern blog, exciting!! I will be out here for the next three months so will en-devour to make contact whenever possible.

I arrived out here at the start of the month and so much has happened already. I decided to get here a little early as I was keen to sit in on the Forest garden course run by Dan Harris. There has been much learning and progress made in the forest Garden since then and last week had been particularly productive as it was the week of planting. We put in fig trees, a variety of Acacias, Hazelnuts, and a mix bag of stone fruits only to name a few. I think that there must have been around 150 trees planted in those few days, but more on that another time. One of the things which I was just so inspired by was Dan’s knowledge of flora, species names, geographical origin, characteristics, and properties wether medicinal, edible or otherwise.

This is one of the many things which I would like (or at least begin) to learn while out here and to do so, myself and fellow interns will be starting a little botanical catalog of what we are growing in our Forest Garden and just in general around the farm.

As food and nourishment are also on the agenda, I think that I will share a little news about what comes out of the kitchen here at milkwood. Rose, our resident chef is a wizzardess in the camp kitchen and passionate about paddock to plate ethical cuisine. I think that we will be the first group here to leave fatter then we arrived, thank you Rose!!!

Now to share just a few words about myself. I have been working and living the hospitality lifestyle for the past 15 years. The kitchen has been my domain although I had always understood that food, beverage and community were synonymous so sort the education and training to develop a dynamic skill set. I have been fortunate enough to travel and work with some amazing chefs in Many different cities in Europe and here in Australia.

Earlier this year I returned from Italy after a couple of years away. My main focus during my time there was in natural wine making and holistic land management. Permaculture also slowly revealed itself and on returning I decided that the kitchen needed a rest and diverted my attention to this. It feels like a very natural transition and coming to Milkwood for me is all about new learnings, natural food productions, community and land care, self nourishment and care and new beginnings.

My attraction to the kitchen started with my passion for eating and a fascination with produce. Provenance is extremely important to me and I want to re-learn the traditions of reconnecting food with family with community. Milkwood is a special place and already feels like home, I am excited to be here and am loving the opportunities that are here for me.

Ok, I will leave it here for the night as there are books waiting for me in my tent on the hill.




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Views from Milkwood

Hello Everybody!

My name is Adam and I’m one of the six who was selected to be a part of Milkwood’s spring internship program. It’s an exciting time for me as my interest in permaculture came about during a period of fairly major change. Professionally my background is a mixture of management, business and hands on geekery in the high tech world. Personally, well until recently … my personal life has largely been my work. About three years ago I had a major wake up call and realised that it was time to make some changes if I wanted to actually live the way I said I did. So I sold everything I owned (well except for my books, art and laptop!), quit my job and bought a one way ticket to Bali with a deliberately vague plan of making my way overland to India. Along the way I ended up attending a PDC course in Thailand and discovered that there was a word for all of the ideas and dreams which had been jangling around in my head, “permaculture”!

So here I am, two weeks into this internship, at the beginning of gaining the skills and experience I’ll need if I decide to develop my own property once I return home to New Zealand. I don’t really know where this ride will take me, but I’m looking forward to finding out. In the mean time I’ll leave you with some pictures from an early morning walkabout Milkwood.


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