Loving Nature, Natural Building & All Things Permaculture!
The “Health And Awareness Tree” (HAAT) was created By Hannah Bruzova. In her words… My mission and intention is to provide a forum for us to share and inspire one another with information about health and well being. Also inspirational quotes and images that are uplifting for the soul. I love the ability we have as humans to inspire each other and that is my prime directive. If you have a personal story of recovery or a NDE you would like to share – please do – these stories make my day. You may also add a friend or family member whom you think would resonate or may receive benefit from the information shared. We encourage sharing.
This is Hannah’s interview with Chrissy-Tiina Laurikainen.
Welcome 🙏 to the Health and Awareness Tree Chrissy! It’s so fabulous to have you here! We have so much in common! Not only our Finnish heritage but our love for the natural world. I’m honoured to know you and excited to be learning more about you!
When did you first become interested in permaculture and working closely with Mother Nature?
I first encountered permaculture back in 2002 at a city farm in Brisbane (www.beelarong.org.au) and then via organic farm work exchange in the WWOOF program. This, combined with an appreciation of our natural environment led me to become an Environmental Scientist and I currently work as an independent researcher in the field of permaculture. My permaculture certification was attained at Noosa Forest Retreat (www.noosaforestretreat.com.au), where I was invited to teach with the community’s founder and manager – Ian Trew.
What’s one of the most fascinating things you’ve learned in the workshops you do – whether it be earth building or permaculture?
I will share three with you…
ONE: How easy it is to build out of natural materials: sand, rocks, earth, grass-clippings, leaves, sticks, natural dyes (mulberry juice, ochre clay etc), living plants….even recycling objects and items that are considered ‘waste’ can find a place inside a wall! It’s all just a matter of growing confidence by giving it a go and through this, developing skills. The safety measures are in appropriate use of tools, identifying hardwood for use in structures and choosing the right location. This is essentially – building for free….personally designed and able to be modified in any way, at any time. Amazing!
TWO: The number of resources a single tree can provide is profound! Shelter and shade, building materials, fuel for cooking, compost for healthy soil, soil biota for organic soil, fruit and nuts, oil, leaf vegetable, medicine, company via biophilia, aesthetics, habitat for wildlife & even rain (via evapotranspiration)! And if the seed is planted – the provision of resources continues endlessly! If the side-walk (or verge) was lined with multi-use plants – this would become our shopping centre!
THREE: The power of connecting the highest point to the lowest point via water! Whether it is small containers (buckets, baths etc), structural features (swales, greywater systems etc) or water bodies (reservoirs, lakes etc). All water-features increase habitat and through this – food resources, species diversity, clean water, recycling of wastewater, supporting wildlife and extreme aesthetics! And once established – all that needs to be done is enjoy the view and harvest!
Yesterday I harvested some new potatoes and it was such a feeling of joy – harvesting and eating our own food that we have grown. What would say to inspire others to get their hands dirty and pot up some plants – even if they have a small space?
The quickest and easiest way to start growing – is to collect the seed out of the food you eat! This way, your produce will match exactly what you need. It’s so simple, just rinse your seed and dry on paper towel, then place into a plastic container from a recycle bin (try the flip-top kind that bakeries and supermarkets use). Add a little soil and water, then place in a warm, sunny position (such as between your sink and kitchen window). You’ll be inspired by how fast seeds grow in your little greenhouse! And in time, inspired at how much money you save and how good it tastes when it’s homegrown, chemical free!
Would you share a few little tips on companion planting?
Just like in our lives, a companion causes the betterment of another via their presence. Some common reasons why plants help each other include shelter from weathering, sunlight preferences (via plant structure), food nutrients (via the breakdown of leaf litter or root zone exudates), pest control (repels or attracts predators), regulation of soil moisture levels and many more. Companion planting is the most basic form of polyculture farming because it includes only two species. When more than two are involved, the group is termed a ‘guild’. Guilds often include non-plant species (such as insects or soil organisms) and can become quite complex. Be sure to plant your companions close enough so they can provide each other the target benefit. Using companions (or polyculture) produces multiple species (doubles the harvest) in a single space and halves the amount of effort that goes into caring for the crop. Start simple and build complexity once stability has been achieved.
I know you’re also involved with earth building – would you tell us a bit more about your work in this field?
My first natural build was with cob at “Beelarong Community Farm” where we constructed a wood-fired oven. And more recently, a hexagon hut during a “Natural Building” workshop taught by Pura Veda Sustainability (at “Noosa Forest Retreat”). The hexagon was chosen because when repeated, it grows to any size. We began, by setting our intention to build and trust in each other. Then chose hardwood (from a local eucalypt tree) as the structure was load-bearing. Using six posts (each with a lintel), we created the hexagon – these formed the walls of the hut. Then, a reciprocal roof was secured on top – a design which bears its own weight. For the roof-top, we cut squares of lawn using a shovel, then laid over padding and pond liner – to create a living roof. In each wall cavity, windows and door frames were roughly secured in place with wood off-cuts, then chicken wire used to fill in gaps. If the wire felt flimsy, wood was added to create solidity. Then using our fingers, we kneaded quincha over the lot. The quincha was made in a concrete mixer using sand:earth:straw (then adding water to form a sticky consistency). By kneading the quincha, the straw knitted together and formed a strong interwoven mesh. After three layers, the walls were thick and solid. To finish the walls, we omitted straw from the mix which left a smooth surface. Then a coloured paint was applied to seal the wall – made of fine clay, flour & linseed oil. We experimented with colours using mulberries, natural ochres & charcoal. Voila!
What’s one herb or plant you use regularly for your health and well-being?
Gotu Kola (aka. Pennywort) – a wild medicinal groundcover which grows abundantly on the coasts of Australia, especially after rain. I try to pick & eat (straight or in salad) at least 12 leaves a day via wild forage. This little beauty (considered a super herb) strengthens the “sheaths” which surround veins and neurons – thus promoting longevity and cognitive function. It is identified by a kidney-shaped leaf with an irregular (leaf) edge and a slightly bitter taste. To find if it grows in your area, check out its distribution via the Atlas of Living Australia: https://bie.ala.org.au/…/id.biodiversity.…/node/apni/6923911
Who’s been your greatest teacher and what did they teach you?
The spirit of Nimbin town – the whole community! On the surface, I learned that it is possible for people to choose their own lifestyle no matter how much it differs from popular culture and witnessed genuine friendship and care offered to complete strangers by the town folk. Beautiful. Scratch the surface and I learned that there are many different groups of people – all with their own way of living very different to each other. And somehow – in this ungoverned, natural chaos – when everyone comes together in town, there is harmony. Nimbin shows me the success of self-governance and acceptance.
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