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Kenton Zerbin
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Morinville, Alberta, Canada
Climate Zone:
Cold Temperate

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The Transformation of Our Urban Home Verge Permaculture Zaytuna Farm, The home of the permaculture Research Institute   Milkwood PermEco Inc. Caribbean PRI of Barbados (CPRIB) Wa Samaki Ecosystems
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The Australian Permaculture Pilgrimage - Ch.2: Milkwood Permaculture Farm

Posted by Kenton Zerbin almost 11 years ago

Ever thought "How do be the change I want to see in the world"? Well here are the stories of a guy who went on a pilgrimage to do just that. This chapter is about acclimatizing to Australia at Milkwood Permaculture Farm.

Exciting is not a word that describes Lithgow.

Panic had overtaken Kentron when he found out that the staff at Sydney Central train station had put him on the wrong train.Luckily, the train still took him to where he needed to go. The difference was the train he found himself on was stopping at every place with a populaton of 15+ along the way. The other train, the one he was SUPPOSED to be on, did not. As a result Kentron missed his connecting bus by 20 min. And so it was here in Lithgow, a tiny mining town, that he was stuck for 9 hours waiting for the next bus.

What the hell do I do with myself? He thought.

Well for starters he dropped 70 lbs of gear behind the counter at the local library and walked ALL of main street. That took a whopping 10 min. Now to explore the stores individualy…An hour later Kentron was sporting a trusty pair of new “blunny” work boots and an akubra hat. One could say he resembled Crocodile Dundy.

The remaining time was spent eating Chinese good, taking pictures of a beautiful park and people watching at the bus station. There were only 4 people. Life at its most interesting.

Cutting through the night the bus coach screeched to a halt next to the sign labled “Welcome to the town of Ilford”. Our weary traveler stepped out from the coach and peered into the darkness anxiously looking for his ride.Suddenly, another pair of lights come around a corner. It was a true jeep built for the outback. The man who jumped out tentatively asked, “Kenton?” Kentron breathed a sign of relief, shook hands with the man and loaded his stuff in the back of the jeep

The next 45 min of Kentrons life felt like they were taken from a Hollywood Movie. Talking constantly in his Australian accent while madly steering from the right side of the vehicle the man named Nick took Kenton for the ride of his life. Flying down the Aussie dirt backroads the vehicle swining around madly to avoid kangaroos. It definetly was a moment Kenton would never forget.

The 45 min that followed THAT were the most confusing of Kentrons life. First of all Kentron arrived at this place in the dark, after a crazy drive and a long tiring day of transit. So you can imagine how weird it was for him to then be greeted by three hardcore Aussie Hip-billies who started talking to him in Spanish and serending him with guitar and song. They could not stop laughing. You see, they had an inside joke running on Kenton already...

When Kenton first took his PDC (permaculture Design certificate) back in Alberta he came away with many friends including a girl named Calista. Calista by the most random coinceidance just happened to have arrived at Milkwood Permaculture Farm the same day to WWOOF and we both had no idea of the other persons plans. Two Alberta friends in the middle of nowhere randonly run into each other in Australia! Small world!

Kentron found out about Calista when he had phoned that morning and on the spur asked for his arrival to be kept a secret from her. However, the best laid plans of mice and men go awry and somebody spilled the beans accidently and mentioned my name. A cover up was quickly attempted and a fake backstory was created that I was from Argentina and no it was not the Kenton Calista knew from Alberta. The staff kept trying to talk to Kenton in Spanish the whole time he stayed at Milkwood. Harhar. And so Kenton went to bed in the weirdest state of mind. He was excited, he was confused, he was curious what was in store for him. He was tired. Sleep claimed him as his head hit the pillow.

Milkwood Permaculture Farm (April 2nd-13th)

My time at Milkwood permaculture farm couldnt have been better. I decided to leave Canada earlier than I needed to for few different reasons. One of these included giving myself time to get climatized to Australia before heading into my 10 week internship at the PRI (Permaculture Research Institute). Well I certainly was climatized! In my time at Milkwood I got a weird bug, I got used to the fast talk, accent and wit of Aussies, and I got used to the weather and temperature.

At Milkwood I learned to sceathe and was given tons of practical experience helping manage a market garden. I helped construct an earth dome, basically a single dwelling structure made of sand, clay and concrete with an attached fireplace. I learned how to repair landscapes eroded by water (they water creates something called a headcut) by building something called a Zuni bowl. The daily chores and operations of the farm also became my business.

My stay at Milkwood was also a social adventure. Over Easter break Nick and Krystyn hosted a 4 day art festival full of good food and good people. In a fit of inspiration I got everyone I met to share at least one place they thought I should go by marking it on my map. I now have a map covered in writing, emails, stars and anecdotes. Not only did it get me enough places to keep me traveling for years but it also got me many invites to visit, couchsurf or go on trips. Some highlights of the 4 days of festivities included:

-Getting a Karoke massage (ill explain later)

-Meeting a young guy who makes documentaries and getting an invite to crash their place in Sydney whenever I can

-Attending a yurt workshop and being of a thinktank for a protest movement that involves yurts-Getting to meet so many amazing people! DJs, VJs, drama, dance and art!

-Amazing sights & deadly encounters... Redback spider & eastern brown


Scything Plus Festival (April 13 & 14)

Nick invited me to join him and his son, Asha, to join them at a local festival for my last 2 days in the area before heading back to Sydney for Surf camp. The festival was probably one of the coolest things I have ever been to in my life. At the scything festical I learned how to plow with a horse and how to blacksmith in addition to getting more familiar with the Scythe. More importantly I made some AMAZING connections.

Firstly, I met Nicky and Dan, the hosts of the festival. Dan is a show writer and documentary organizer and was in the process of arganizing a group of 15 well known Australian landscape artists to depict Australia’s national parks. Nicky has 3 masters degrees and is a brilliant kind woman who has realized the need for people to get back to the land and be self sufficient. As if it wasnt enough to just be around two amazing people like that, they also told me they would be interested in me WWOOFing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms). They came right out though and went even further by stating they essentially need some young new blood to come and stay with them. Essentially they were offering me land as long as I was the right person who was aligned with their beliefs and values. As they get older you can understand they are looking for a succession plan. Definetly something to think about…

Second, I met a man named Jeff Keys. Jeff is a fantastic and friendly guy and we were always quick to find each other in the small crowd for some humour and good conversation. Jeff invited to take me to Fraser Island!Fraser island is the largest sand island in the world. It has a rainforest (yes, that grows in the sand!) and hosts a plethera of wildlife and natural wonders to behold. The Aboriginals have a word for it that translates to “Paradise”. So Jeff offered to take me for more than a week for a sea-kayak trip to Fraser Island, essentially for cost of the camp permit and my food! I cannnot believe my luck! Im sure that will make an epic chapter of my journey.

Third, I met a man named John. John has been a live in Yogin at a yoga/meditation center for over two years and after hanging out with him he invited me to come WWOOF at the retreat! John described the work day for me that I could expect. It went something like this: Get up at 6. Yoga for an hour. Breakfast. Meditation. Work for 45 min. Tea. Yoga for a session. Work for 45 min. Lunch. Meditation/snooze. Yoga session. Work for 45 min. Tea. Wrap up work day then chanting session. Evening may include talks or movies or guest speakers. So Im going to go be a yogin. Right after my trip to Fraser Island. But first I got to go to my surf camp, get up the coast to Byron Bay, catch my bus to Lismore then survive 10 weeks in the bush at my Internship.

But thats another story.

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Comments (1)

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María Luz Cardozo
María Luz Cardozo : I simply love your writing. you are an amazing stury-teller...I'll be waiting for the rest. It looks very promising! What an amazing adventure you had!!
Posted almost 11 years ago

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My Badges
Consultant Pdc teacher
My Permaculture Qualifications
Other course verified
Permaculture Internship
Type: Internship
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Zaytuna Farm, Australia
Date: Apr 2012
Other course verified
Master Recycler Master Composter
Type: Other
Teacher: Mark Stumpf
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Date: Aug 2009
Permaculture Design Certification
Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
Teacher: Rob Avis
Location: Gull Lake, Alberta, Canada
Date: Aug 2011
Other course verified
Type: Earthworks
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Zaytuna Farm, Australia
Date: Apr 2012
Other course verified
Urban Gardening
Type: Gardening
Verifying teacher: Geoff Lawton
Other Teachers: Nick Huggins
Location: Zaytuna Farm, Australia
Date: May 2012
Other course verified
Teacher Training
Type: Teacher Training
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Zaytuna Farm, Australia
Date: May 2012
Other course verified
Soil Biology
Type: Soil Biology/Compost
Teacher: Paul Taylor
Location: Zaytuna Farm, Australia
Date: Jun 2012
Other course verified
Bio-intensive Gardening
Type: Gardening
Teacher: Kay Baxter
Location: Zaytuna Farm, Australia
Date: May 2012
Other course verified
Seed Saving
Type: Gardening
Teacher: Kay Baxter
Location: Zaytuna Farm, Australia
Date: May 2012
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Climate Zones
Kenton Zerbin has permaculture experience in:
Cold Temperate
Cool Temperate
Sub tropical
Wet/Dry Tropical

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