Friday, 20 October 2017

Grow real food in the city to cut hunger



On Tuesday I joined the stage with Maddie, a young indigenous leader, a strong empowered woman, a 21 year old single mum, working hard to finish school. She was there to share her story about what it's really like to be poor and regularly experience food insecurity.

She told us how last week she was standing in the supermarket with $10 to her name, trying to work out how to feed herself and her son for the next week, and that this is not an uncommon thing for her. Everyday life is a struggle.

What would you do if you had $10 left to buy food for 5 days?

She also told the forum that she is so glad there is free food growing in parks and gardens. When she's desperate, that's where she goes. She said it's what saves them from hunger.  Publicly accessible community gardens are vital.

It is so good to know that fruit trees we planted over 20 years ago in various council parks are now mature and feeding lots of people in need, but it's such a small drop in a very big ocean. Another thing is, these gardens have been established by volunteers with little financial support. 

Imagine if there was support to grow so much more food in the cities and towns for free picking - hardy fruits, herbs and perennial vegetables. Things that are robust, long lasting and easy to grow.
Imagine if we encouraged and showed people how to take cuttings  to grow food in their own homes.  We don't have to buy everything!

Imagine park planning involving the design and development of urban food forests - fabulous diverse food producing parks for the people. This is actually happening in a number of cities.

Community food systems are not just a nice thing to do. They are critically important for addressing not only food insecurity, but food sovereignty (the ability to access real and appropriate food, not just a certain number of calories for survival.)

Diverse food gardens are a source of life and hope. They are places where people: 

  • connect with the community and find support
  • can access real food freely
  • can learn how to grow food simply and cheaply
  • can access space to grow food with security (many rental properties not offering this option)
  • can find peace and calm, and a place to think
  • can learn new skills for employment
  • cook up shared meals and learn how to use the seasonal produce
  • can grow culturally appropriate foods not typically available in stores
  • can go for low-cost or no-cost social events and fun for the kids

These are just a few of reasons gardens, especially community gardens are so vitally important. Real food is essential for our bodies and minds, to think clearly, to have energy, to have lasting health.

The number of community gardens is growing, but the issues that emerged at the forum were whether the people who really need the food have the capacity to be involved (physically or emotionally) or feel comfortable to approach these garden groups.  Partnerships between those working to help people in poverty and community gardens are happening, but there could be so much more.

Like I said in my last post, one in six children in Australia live in poverty and experience hunger.  I feel that those of us who have the capacity to do something, can help but growing good food in public places - food that is available to anyone who needs it. Also organise community cook-ups and welcome people and organisations to participate. Most importantly we need to listen to the people who are experiencing hunger and work with them to find positive, lasting solutions.



Dr Richard Denniss, Chief Economist at the Australia Institute - the funniest and most understandable economist I'd ever met who made so much common sense.

A comment that stuck in my mind, by Dr Richard Denniss, Chief Economist from the Australia Institute (co-author of Affluenza, and author of Econobabble), is that, as a nation, we do entirely have the economic capacity to end poverty, but there is not the will. It's not a popular way to spend the national budget. He gave the example that we'd rather invest in a fleet of new nuclear subs, even though we already had some and hadn't used them much. It's about our values and priorities. 

Get involved. Poverty is a much bigger issue than most people realise, or want to acknowledge, in rich countries like Australia. 

The event was the Ending Poverty and Inequality in QLD Public Forum at the Edge, Southbank, that was part of Anti-Poverty Week. The MC was social justice advocate & channel 7 TV anchor, Kay Macgrath.


Monday, 16 October 2017

Permaculture at the Anti-Poverty Forum


It's Anti-Poverty Week this week and I'll be joining the stage at the Ending Poverty and Inequality in QLD Public Forum at The Edge Auditorium in Southbank, Brisbane on Tuesday 17th October.  

I am part of a panel and my role is to explore how permaculture and simple living can help improve the quality of life for those living in poverty. My co-panellists are young indigenous leaders who themselves are struggling to raise their children in poverty.  I am honoured to be invited to share the stage with them, and I'm also looking forward to hearing from The Australia Institute's Richard Denniss. The event will be live-streamed to a number of regional forums too.

If you are in Brisbane and have the morning free, book here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/ending-poverty-and-inequality-in-qld-public-forum-tickets-37379645526  Perhaps there are other ways you can support those living in poverty this week - check out the Anti-poverty Week website to find out ways to help http://www.antipovertyweek.org.au/

Did you know that 1 in 6 children in Australia live in poverty? Or that 1 billion children worldwide live in poverty?  Nearly half the world's population live on less than $2.50/day. In Australia, poverty in indigenous communities is much higher than average, and also for women and single parents. 

Poverty is increasing. So is the gap between the rich and poor.  Hunger and lack of access to good food is a real issue for so many people every day.  Without proper nourishment it is impossible to learn well, to feel well, to think well, to grow well, to work well.

All people have the right to real food (not just a certain amount of calories), yet many solutions have been missing the mark in terms of enabling people to access and grow fresh healthy food - growing food for young bodies and minds. 

Community food projects are a real solution - community farms, community food forests, community gardens, community kitchens, community seed banks, tool banks and more.  Community food projects so much more than the food.  They are places where people learn together, grow together, share resources, build connection to community and place, and grow a culture of resilience and sustainability, to rebuild lives.


Plant one sweet potato - eat the leaves all through the warm seasons, then harvest the roots for winter. The leaves are more nutritious than the roots!
I look forward to learning much tomorrow and finding out more how permaculture can support those living in poverty in my local region, and beyond. 

I'll let you know how it all goes.

If you have a story about how you've seen or experienced permaculture helping to address poverty, please do share.


Perennial foods are easy to grow and provide an abundance of food and home grown mulch too.

There are so many perennial greens that are super easy to grow here and are always ready for picking. This is Okinawan spinach.

Self-seeding abundance - eat it all - leaves, shoots, florettes, flowers, young seed pods, seeds. 
Don't just wait for the beans, eat broad bean leaves too!


A wonderful filler - a perennial hardy potato alterative. Qld Arrowroot/edible canna

Grow your own medicine, skin cream and hair conditioner.


A small space can grow so much food - keep trimming and it keeps growing. Try perennials for a different way of gardening that just keeps providing.

Create a food forest with a diversity of different fruits and crops for all year,

Everyday, a permaculture garden can be the source of healthy fresh food, with very little effort.



Subscribe to Morag Gamble's Newsletter




Subscribe to my YouTube channel:

To receive direct notification of all my films, you can subscribe my YouTube channel. Just click the red subscribe button on my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/c/moraggambleourpermaculturelife


Thank you to my Patreon community:

If have enjoyed my blog and youtube channel, you may like to consider becoming my patron too. I think of it like a subscription to a magazine you like - but this one is online. From $1/month, you can be part of my the Our Permaculture Life supporter network. Click here to find out more:  https://www.patreon.com/moraggamble.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

12 ways to use edible natural skin care & healing oil from 2 ingredients and how to simply make it


Turn your calendula flowers into a valuable oil for natural skin care, healing and for eating.

Harvested calendula flowers for making calendula oil.

My new film (link below) shows 2 simple methods to make your own organic calendula oil using just 2 ingredients - calendula flowers and organic local olive oil. 

When I first learnt how to do this, I couldn't believe how absolutely easy it was. I was sure it was going to be really complicated. Give it a go!


Safe to eat so it's safe for your skin

Calendula oil is great for skin care, first aid and ... eating! I love the idea that you only put on your skin what is safe to eat.  This oil is also suitable for sensitive skin, children and babies.

Steeping the home grown calendula flowers in organic olive oil for 28 days.

Here's a dozen ways you can use your home-made calendula oil:

  1. nourishing face oil
  2. moisturiser
  3. chapped skin
  4. insect bites
  5. small wounds
  6. sprains and bruises (anti-inflammatory)
  7. rashes
  8. nappy rash
  9. minor burns
  10. sunburn
  11. eczema and psoriasis
  12. salad dressing

You can use it straight, or make it into salves, creams, lotions, body butter, lotion bars, soap, lip balm, bug bite balm. So easy, yet so versatile. 

What other ways do you use it?

Bright and lovely calendula flower - a great addition to the garden. Loved by the bees too.

I encourage you to go ahead and plant calendula when your season is right, and harvest this wonderful flower for your own golden oil.

Other films in this 3 part calendula series:

Watch part one of this series of films: Calendula Part 1: How to grow and use. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w46LHwBz4_4

Next Calendula instalment will be:
Calendula Part 3: How to easily make your own Calendula salve with 4 ingredients and 3 simple steps. It's a great first aid jar to have in your home.

Easy home made calendula salve - just 4 natural ingredients.

I hope you enjoyed reading and watching. Feel free to share.

Happy gardening and making!

Subscribe to Morag Gamble's Newsletter




Subscribe to my YouTube channel:

To receive direct notification of all my films, you can subscribe my YouTube channel. Just click the red subscribe button on my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/c/moraggambleourpermaculturelife

Thank you to my Patreon community:

If have enjoyed my blog and youtube channel, you may like to consider becoming my patron too. I think of it like a subscription to a magazine you like - but this one is online. From $1/month, you can be part of my the Our Permaculture Life supporter network. Click here to find out more:  https://www.patreon.com/moraggamble.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

7 ways that Rosemary promotes healthy hair: Simple recipe for natural hair rinse


Rosemary (Rosemarinus offininalis) is a favourite herb in gardens around the world and understandably so. It is one of those hardy perennial herbs that not only grows very easily in a huge range of conditions, it grows so wonderfully, there's always plenty available. It responds well to regular harvesting too. It's super easy to propagate by cuttings too, attracts bees to the garden and is pest resistant. 

Originally from the Mediterranean, this plant can now be found almost everywhere but the most extreme climates. As long as you don't overwater it, or the soil is not waterlogged, it can grow just about anywhere. It can get a bit twiggy after a while, but after a good trim it springs back with lovely new growth. 


I plant rosemary in my garden where I can easily reach it. I use it every day in cooking and in other ways around the home.

Did you know that rosemary belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae), along with basil, lavender, thyme, oregano and many other herbs? There over 8000 species in this family.

Culturally rosemary is important in so many different cultures. Rosemary was considered sacred to ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. The scent of freshly crushed rosemary has been said to help you study and improve memory. It's also the Remembrance Day herb here in Australia. 

Regular snipping of sprigs encourages healthy new growth of supple leaf tips.

Rosemary for Healthy Hair

Did you know that Rosemary is one of the most beneficial herbs for your hair?  It has strong antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-oxidant properties. By regularly using natural homemade rosemary hair products, you can:

  1. stimulate hair follicles and the growth of healthy new hair.
  2. help prevent hair thinning
  3. darken hair naturally - used for a very long time to cover greys (note: if you apply for a few minutes then wash out, you can use on lighter hair without effect)
  4. regular use reduces the appearance of grey hairs
  5. wash away build up of hair products 
  6. make hair feel much more naturally soft and shiny.  
  7. reduce dandruff and itchy scalp too. 
Just 2 ingredients for healthy hair naturally - rosemary and water!


Here's the simplest recipe I know for making a rosemary hair rinse.

Simple Rosemary Hair Rinse for regular use
Makes approximately 4 applications

To simple ingredients:
  • 2 fresh sprigs rosemary leaves
  • 2 cups of water
5 easy steps
  1. In a saucepan, bring the water to the boil. 
  2. Reduce heat, then add the rosemary. 
  3. Simmer for a few minutes with the lid on to keep the volatile oils in.
  4. Let it stand to cool
  5. Strain the leaves out.
It is now ready to use as a hair rinse. After you've washed your hair, pour this over you hair (avoid eyes) and massage into scalp and to the ends. You don't need to wash it out. It leaves your hair smelling so fresh. 

Rosemary in daily meals


I use this flavoursome and aromatic herb in lots of dishes. I don't think there is a day that I don't wander past my rosemary plants to harvest leaves and or flowers. 

I particularly like to sprinkle a few leaves and flowers through my salad. A simple homemade salad dressing is just so delicious with rosemary. Of course rosemary is fabulous on pizza, in vegetable soup, blended through pasta sauces, roasted with sweet potato or potato. So many uses!

But it's not just in the kitchen that I use rosemary. I use it in the shower too, and in cleaning. I always love to find new ways to make the most of all the plants growing in my garden.


Weeping rosemary growing abundantly along the terrace wall.

Types of Rosemary:
I have a few types growing in my garden:
  • upright varieties - some can grow taller than me and can make a great hedge (temporary)
  • a weeping variety that tumbles over the terrace wall 
There are so very many cultivars. I have looked around local gardens and found the ones thriving here and asked for cuttings of those. It's a good way to get the right ones for your area.

What other ways do you use Rosemary in your daily life?



Subscribe to Morag Gamble's Newsletter




Subscribe to my YouTube channel:

To receive direct notification of all my films, you can subscribe my YouTube channel. Just click the red subscribe button on my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/c/moraggambleourpermaculturelife

Thank you to my Patreon community:

If have enjoyed my blog and youtube channel, you may like to consider becoming my patron too. I think of it like a subscription to a magazine you like - but this one is online. From $1/month, you can be part of my the Our Permaculture Life supporter network. Click here to find out more:  https://www.patreon.com/moraggamble.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Three short films about Calendula - Part 1:how to grow and use


Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is such a wonderful plant to have in your edible landscape - beautiful, hardy, easy to grow, adaptable, long blooming, attractive to beneficial insects, few pest problems, wonderful medicinal and culinary uses.

I have just made a three part series of films about Calendula. It is widely recognised for its healing and culinary uses. These films share some simple ways to grow, harvest and use this valuable plant.



 Part 1: How to grow and use Calendula.

I can't imagine my winter permaculture garden without Calendula. It's so beautiful and useful. It grows in temperate and subtropical areas, likes the sun and well drained soil. Plant it in late summer/autumn and within 8-10 weeks you can be enjoying the blooms. Before the lovely flowers come though, you can be harvesting leaves to eat raw or cooked.

You can watch this now here...



Over the next 2 weeks on my YouTube channel, and here on my blog, I will post parts 2 and 3.
  • Part 2: How to make Calendula infused oil for culinary and medicinal uses.
  • Part 3: How to easily make your own Calendula salve with 4 ingredients and 3 simple steps. A great first aid jar to have in your home.
A little while ago, I wrote a blog post about eating the leaves. You can find this post here:  http://our-permaculture-life.blogspot.com.au/2017/08/3-simple-uses-for-calendula-leaves.html



I hope you enjoyed reading and watching. Feel free to share.


Subscribe to Morag Gamble's Newsletter




Subscribe to my YouTube channel:

To receive direct notification of all my films, you can subscribe my YouTube channel. Just click the red subscribe button on my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/c/moraggambleourpermaculturelife

Thank you to my Patreon community:

If have enjoyed my blog and youtube channel, you may like to consider becoming my patron too. I think of it like a subscription to a magazine you like - but this one is online. From $1/month, you can be part of my the Our Permaculture Life supporter network. Click here to find out more:  https://www.patreon.com/moraggamble.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Why I live in an ecovillage. (includes podcast 14:35 mins)


I have spent most of my adult life living in ecovillages both here in Australia and around the world. It's a simple, sustainable, productive and rewarding way of life. I absolutely love it!  I have taught ecovillage design courses too in Australia, Europe and Asia.

I love ecovillages not just because they are a great way to live - for me and my family - but because they are about reimagining the future, and exploring, experimenting and sharing ideas with others.  Perhaps you could call it positive progress - positive development.

The conventional notions of progress and growth come with the implicit promise that each generation will live 'better' than the previous one. But, this way of life is completely dependent on oil. Economic growth too is entirely linked to consumption of oil - quite  a vulnerable position to be in.

Let's not forget too that everything is totally dependent on planetary well-being which is being undermined. Earth overshoot day fell on August 2 this year. Everything we do from August 2 until the end of the year is borrowed from the future and from nature's capacity to restore itself.


Getting together at the village green and sourdough bakery cafe each week for a chat and sometimes to swap produce too, while the kids play.

Ecovillages offer a different way of living and developing. It's a way of seeing the world that needs far more exposure. That's why I chose to explore this topic again in my Simple Living segment on ABC Radio a few weeks ago. Evening show host, Trevor Jackson and I explored:
  • What is an ecovillage?
  • Why do I choose to live in an ecovillage? 
  • What are some of the challenges?
  • What are some of the various ways they occur around the world?
You can listen to the 15 minute interview here:

https://soundcloud.com/user-523529725/why-i-live-in-an-ecovillage (14:35 mins)


An ecovillage is essentially a way of living more in ecologically sound and sustainable ways, with more resilience and connectedness - to self, to others, to the bioregional ecology, to the planet. It is an intentional way of living more simply, to thrive, to connect, to reconnect with our inner purpose, to aspire to live well, live fully, live sustainably. 


Living a low impact lifestyle surrounded by nature, food, fresh water, fresh air, wildlife and community.

A key defining characteristic of an ecovillage is that people come together to consciously live more lightly on the earth. There is intent and purpose to be in conscious pursuit of living a more regenerative, resilient way of life. 

Not surprisingly, ecovillages have the lowest recorded eco-footprints in the 'Global North'.  Sieben Linden in Germany is at 30% of the national average, Danish ecovillages are at 30%  too and the USA ecovillages are at 20% of their national average. This is significant! If we are to find a way to live well within the natural limits, not just surviving but thriving - regenerating social and natural fabric of life, ecovillages certainly seem to hold some clues and are worth a deeper look, particularly in how the lessons from these can be translated much wider.

We have more than half of the global population living in cities and there is much talk of how to create ecocities. Perhaps the answer lies in creating a series of ecovillages which are connected in the urban fabric.



The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN)  describes three key forms of ecovillages:
  • the traditional ecovillage - existing rural villages and communities that decide together to make changes that embrace the traditional sustainable ways of living and integrate positive new and appropriate technologies 
  • the urban ecovillage - communities and eco-neighbourhoods with a common vision to re-invent city life to become more sustainable, collaborative and participatory;
  • the intentional ecovillage - an ecovillage created by people who come together with a shared vision of creating a new village or community. 
Torri Superiore is an Italian ecovillage - a cooperative effort to restore a medieval village using traditional natural building methods and cultivating sustainable way of life and livelihood in the rural landscape - making, growing, ecotourism and education.
It is not known actually how many ecovillages exist, but GEN reports that they reach out to around 10,000 communities on all continents.

Ecovillages explicitly focus on four dimensions of sustainability:
  • social
  • cultural
  • ecology
  • economy

To me ecovillages are incredibly important educational centres - real examples of how to live well. In ecovillages people explore new ways of living, and create new narratives - ways of seeing the world, that are more positive, practical and constructive. It's not about denial or guilt, but of being engaged and proactive. 

I intend to make a little youtube clip of our village sometime soon. That would be a great way to share some more about how things work here at Crystal Waters. Do you have any particular questions you’d like me to answer in the film?

There are many websites about ecovillages. Here's just a couple of resources:


    Thank you to my network of supporters!

    If have enjoyed my blog and youtube channel, you may like to consider becoming my patron too. I think of it like a subscription to a magazine you like - but this one is online. From $1/month, you can be part of my the Our Permaculture Life supporter network. Click here to find out more:  https://www.patreon.com/moraggamble.


    Subscribe to Morag Gamble's Newsletter


    Monday, 2 October 2017

    Morag's 5 tips for living simply

    What does it take to live a simpler life? Where do you start?

    Here is the link to a recording from my Simple Life segment on ABC Radio this week. Evenings presenter, Trevor Jackson and I explore my five tips for ways to simplify. 

    https://soundcloud.com/user-523529725/five-tips-for-living-simply (17:43 mins).

    Here's a brief summary:

    1. Live with intent: live consciously: give value to simplicity: make time to change.

    2. Want less: be happy with less: share or gift surplus: make a conscious choice to live with less.

    3. Spend less: purchase quality items: avoid big stores : buy second hand : make things last.

    4. Grow food: eat local: choose simple food: eat together: zero waste: take lunch or a picnic.

    5. Make time to do more 'real' things - grow, make, cook, do, explore, adventure, build ...unplug and really connect.

    If you want change to happen, ask "If not me, then who? If not now, when?"


    This is a recording of me speaking live on Queensland ABC Radio. It is the final 2017 show in this ABC Radio series. My weekly simple life segment has been part of the Evening Show aired at 9:30 pm. All recordings can be found on my podcast: https://soundcloud.com/user-523529725

    Visit my youtube channel for over 45 practical clips on how to live simply:  https://www.youtube.com/c/moraggambleourpermaculturelife


    Thank you to my network of supporters!

    If have enjoyed my blog and youtube channel, you may like to consider becoming my patron too. I think of it like a subscription to a magazine you like - but this one is online. From $1/month, you can be part of my the Our Permaculture Life supporter network. Click here to find out more:  https://www.patreon.com/moraggamble.


    Subscribe to Morag Gamble's Newsletter