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Backyard Bounty
Backyard Bounty
Last updated:
PO Box 318, Ballarat, Victoria, AU
Climate zone:
Cool Temperate

Carolyn Payne-Gemmell Dan Stoll Jake Hill Jo McLeay Sarah Bradford
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Backyard Bounty

Project Type

Urban, Rural, Residential, Community, Educational, Permaculture Local Group Transition Town Permablitz

Project Summary

Backyard Bounty aims to increase home food production by: 1. organising a series of practical skill workshops, garden tours and similar events 2. establishing permablitz in the local region 3. using New Media to connect people with eachother and seasonal cycles

Project Description

Backyard Bounty is a project of the Ballarat Permaculture Guild designed to:

  1. reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  2. build community resilience to respond to climate change, and
  3. trial new ideas to help tackle climate change

The project is for 1 year.  Funding commenced December 2010 and the project worker was appointed Feb 3, 2011.


Project Overview:

The project comprises three related activities which will be undertaken simultaneously:

1) setting up a 'permablitz' network in Ballarat to facilitate community working bees to 'make over' home gardens for maximum food production based on permaculture design principles,

2) running a series of public workshop in specialist skill areas that are important to successful home food production (e.g. introduction to vegetable gardeing, setting up a home orchard, growing food on small plots, grafting, pruning, compost making, keeping chickens), and

3) experimenting with the use of new media/social networking sites as a means of keeping people informed and motivated toward home food production. The third part of the project explores how to connect people to the existing vast range of Internet-based information on home food production through methods such as regular FaceBook updates, links to YouTube videos on relevant skills and invitations to events or websites.


Main beneficiaries:

This project will target and primarily benefit residents of Ballarat and surrounding districts.  Permablitz activities will be within Ballarat and surrounding districts only.  Public training events will also primarily benefit the Ballarat community, but are also likely to support residents of towns within 100 km such as Daylesford, Castlemaine, Geelong, because they will be able to travel to attend specific events.  The third part of the project, using social networking sites as a catalyst for home food production and related activities, will apply statewide and actually benefit any communities in cool temperate zones because the Internet removes geographical distance as a barrier to participation.


Project location:

Permablitzes will take place at the homes of individual hosts/participants.  Training events will be at sites suited to the training, eg. pruning workshop in an orchard, vegetable propagation in a nursery or at a community garden facility.  The Ballarat Permaculture Guild thanks our great local climate change action group - BREAZE - who have agreed to provide their offices as a base for the Project Manager, plus for committee meetings, permablitz designers meetings, etc.  (This includes use of office facilities, equipment and Internet connection: thanks BREAZE!)


Community interest and need:

This project is supported by the City of Ballarat, Ballarat East Community Gardens, Friends of Royal Park (community garden and environmental centre), Hepburn Relocalisation Network, Ballarat East Community Shed and BREAZE (Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions) Local Food Group.  David Holmgren, co-founder of permaculture, has also provided a letter of support which outlines the broader (global) rise in interest in permaculture as a response to climate change. The BPG has been asked to run permablitz events in the past.  There has been strong demand for the "All Seasons Permaculture Design Course" (ASPDC) which runs 1 weekend a month for 12 months (69 enrolments in first 2 years) and many people who couldn't commit to the year have asked for shorter courses.  Community interest in food production is also demonstrated by the waiting list for plots at the Ballarat East community garden and interest from the Ballarat East Community Shed in setting up a garden on their Men’s Shed site.  There has also been a strong upswing in schools setting up food gardens in the Stephanie Alexander model.


Reduction of energy consumption (especially fossil-fuel energy) is the best way to reduce climate change impact.  Australian households consume more energy through food consumption than in any other area (including transport and heating/cooling) so producing food at home is the single most effective way to reduce energy consumption and mitigate climate change.  Food is also our greatest single point of water consumption, so producing food at home is also the best way to save water; a topical issue because of the recent drought but likely to be a permanent issue as climate change lowers rainfall across southern Australia. 


We are not aware of any groups attempting to use social networking sites as a vehicle for promoting home food production and keeping communities engaged and active in this area.  We are not focussing on adding food-related information to the web, because there is already a huge amount of excellent material available.  The informal feedback we have received from people is not that they cannot find information, but that they become too busy to track it and miss seasonal 'windows of opportunity'.  For instance, it is common for people to forget to plant winter vegetable seedlings early enough to get good crops; they are busy tending the bumper spring/summer garden and realise it is ‘too late’ to put in main winter plantings.  Our project would send them FaceBook reminders of when to plant what or what garden activities they could be doing this weekend.  Anyone in temperate Australia could become our FB friend and benefit from this service.  One update goes instantly to all our friends.


Project activities:

Permablitz –

  1. research Melbourne & Sydney models (attend several Melbourne 'blitzes'), including discussion of key success factors and challenge/problem areas with permablitz pioneers
  2. develop protocols to govern how permablitz will work in Ballarat (e.g. deciding which sites to blitz, how to manage volunteers, who provides what equipment or resources [BPG, home owner, volunteer], system for Working with Children checks)
  3. obtain tools & equipment trailer (hand tools, collapsible table, urn, mugs, esky, etc)
  4. advertise for blitz sites and volunteers
  5. set up initial blitz schedule
  6. develop and initially coordinate pool of designers to develop site plans
  7. build volunteer base so that system becomes self organising after funding ceases
  8. facilitate gradual transfer of ‘running permablitz Ballarat’ to working group during second half of project


Home food workshops –

  1. community consultation to establish workshop priorities (public meetings, Survey Monkey, meetings with key stakeholders at BREAZE Local Food Group, community gardens, school gardens, DHS, DSE, City of Ballarat Environment and Social planning teams)
  2. align workshops with seasonal opportunities for optimal timing (e.g. grafting in Winter)
  3. recruit trainers and workshop volunteers (may be different for each workshop, attempt to find local expertise wherever possible & use workshop to train under-study)
  4. coordinate marketing and promotion of workshops with partners & in general media


New media –

  1. research use of new media by NGO's, environmental organisations & commercial organisations
  2. encourage large numbers of new friends to BPG FB page through marketing, competitions, novelty activities (based on research findings)
  3. regularly (min 4 times per week) update BPG FB page with relevant action prompts
  4. add local information & events news to BPG website & FB page as often as possible
  5. explore other innovative options such as blogging or Twitter depending on research findings and project experience

A Ballarat Permablitz website or FB page may also be set up.  This will depend on the Permablitz model adopted, as well as results from the new media research & trials. (May be better to encourage greater use of BPG site or FB page)


Poject Management

The project Steering Committee will provide project oversight and includes representatives from Ballarat Permaculture Guild, BREAZE, Ballarat Community Garden, Friends of Royal Park and the City of Ballarat.  Day-to-day implementation will be the responsibility of the project worker.  Each project area will have a small working group to advise it, but also carry out implementation activities.  BPG has successfully developed and implemented the All Seasons Permaculture Design Course (ASPDC) which had a turnover of over $100,000 in its first year and generated a surplus (part of which is being used to support this project).  BPG has close working relationships with like-minded organisations in Ballarat and has provided letters of support from BREAZE, Ballarat Community Garden, Ballarat East Community Shed, Friends of Royal Park, City of Ballarat and the Hepburn Relocalisation Network.  In particular, we have access to the knowledge and experience within BREAZE (700+ members, over $2 mill turnover in 2009) to support us if specific questions or problems arise.  This includes access to pro-bono legal and accounting advice which has already been supplied to BREAZE.


The broader community will be involved in the project through participation in any or all of the three project areas.  Communication will primarily be through e-newsletters, website and social networking sites, but supplemented by traditional media such as newspaper & banner advertising.  We will also be able to promote through our supporters email newsletters and networks.


Key impacts and success measures:

The key impact of the project will be to reduce carbon emissions by people substantially increasing their home food production and consumption of local food.  This lifestyle change is an adaptation to climate change.  The use of new media; particularly social networking sites is a new idea to tackle climate change through encouraging home food production.

Success of the project will be measured by:

     1. number of home gardens permablitzed,

     2. likely continued permablitz activity (evidenced by the existence of a vibrant and self organising           permablitz community)

     3. attendance at workshops

     4. number of hits on BPG webpage (and increase in BPG membership)

     5. number of 'friends' for BPG FaceBook page


Other success measures may be determined during the life of the project, especially in relation to the New Media trials.


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