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The Sustainable Living Course benefits our lives and community

By Becky Garrity and Carrie Hodges

Let us introduce ourselves...

Hello sustainable living friends!

We are Becky (pictured left) and Carrie (pictured below); two former students of the Autumn Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course (SLC) 2022. This is where we met, and started working towards a Permaculture consultancy business together.

Between us, our backgrounds are geology, environmental science, nature guiding, and animal welfare. Now we can add permaculture design and organic growing to that list. We both have a passion for land regeneration and self sufficiency and were both independently drawn to the Golden Bay course to gather the tools we needed to implement our self sufficiency dreams.

So what did we gain from The Sustainable Living Course?

The SLC [Sustainable Living Centre] course was a great introduction to permaculture, organic growing, sustainable eating, natural building, conscious business and personal sustainability.

It teaches you a way of life, and proves it's possible, through many class field trips to visit Golden Bay locals. People who happily open their homes and businesses to share with you the many forms in which sustainable living can be achieved.

After a few weeks on the course, you quickly realise how beneficial it is to have a functional and healthy organic garden based on permaculture principles.

Some benefits we learned include:

● Access to fresh, nutritious, flavoursome and organic food

● Improved self sufficiency and resilience to external influences

● Minimising waste

● Minimising our carbon footprint

● Not relying on external inputs

● Having an excuse to be outdoors

● It's a matter of time and effort rather than how much money we have set aside.

During the last few weeks of the SLC course, the class worked on personal projects to present back to the group. We had a variety of ideas for our project, however, one thing we kept

coming back to was our experience doing the permaculture design project with Robina McCurdy . The whole process including the client interview, site and sector analysis, soil testing, research and design, and presenting the final design back to the client was a really rewarding experience.

Our real life project - launched at the SLC

Having learned some of the benefits of permaculture, and experienced the process of designing a permaculture garden for a client, we were keen to keep developing our skills in that area and help others to implement permaculture methods at their homes. This sparked the inception of our personal project- to start a permaculture design consultancy based in Christchurch. Together we worked on this idea, and developed a brand name, logo and a game plan. The course provided many opportunities to get feedback and advice from our teachers and peers which was really helpful in the development of our project.

Although the permaculture design module had the biggest influence on our project, other modules that really tied in well included organic growing, conscious business and sustainable eating. We have also got some hands-on experience such as taking part in a mushroom log inoculation workshop, making fermented plant juice using korean natural farming methods, dehydrating foods to preserve surpluses, working on community tree planting projects, and building our own compost heap.

Making positive contributions in the real world

Since returning to Christchurch we have continued to work on our project, and build knowledge by doing permaculture designs for friends and family, volunteering for local community gardens, and helping out with a permaculture market garden that is planned for Christchurch Central City. The market garden is in its early stages and it will be very exciting to be involved in planning and development.

The skills we have learned on the course have been invaluable for our project as we feel they provide a means to creating a more sustainable future for ourselves, the community, and the environment. Our permaculture journey is well under way and we are enjoying, and learning from, every step.

All the best

Becky and Carrie

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