By Merle Foster – Coast and Country Magazine July 2013

A voluntary group is spreading it roots Bay-wide to help people learn about permaculture, making over properties in the process, as the philosophy finds growth among urban and country dwellers.

PermaBlitz BOP held its first event in August 2012 and after eight permablitzes in Katikati its spreading its interest further into the region.

The group was created by Trish Waugh, Hugo Verhagen and Sue Peachey who worked at the Landscape Design Company and as this dissolved – looked to find more environmentally sustainable method for their landscaping work.

“The Sustainable Business Network coached us through the process of looking at a sustainable way forward. And, the more we looked in detail at what we were doing – the more we discovered we were providing an unsustainable service, in terms of carbon footprint and what we were doing for the environment, “says Hugo.

The trio found solace in Australian website Melbourne PermaBlitz with the catchphrase “Eating the Suburbs- One backyard at a time”. Founded in 2006 by Dan Palmer, a trained permaculture designer and inventor of the PermaBlitz, today Melbourne has 80 blitzes per year.

A PermaBlitz is an informal gathering, where people come together, donating time and energy to create or add edible gardens, and share skills of permaculture, organic gardening and sustainable living, while building community networks and having fun.

“The website drew us towards permaculture as a solution to living more sustainably and helping people use their gardens in a more sustainable way. We felt we could use it as a design tool.”

PermaBlitz BOP, a non-profit network serving to connect people to help undertake permaculture designs at Bay properties.

“We believe there’s a growing number of people interested in permaculture and we think there’s a large community of lifestyle block owners and garden enthusiasts who want to try and garden more organically,” says Hugo.

A PermaBlitz begins when a potential host signals interest in an event at their property. They work with a volunteer or professional permaculture designer to design the garden. Hosts provide cratering for the day and fund costs of material and design, if any. Volunteer tasks include planting trees, seedlings, digging paths, swales and small ponds, making vegetable beds with “no-dig” methods, pruning and more.

Trish and Sue coach volunteers via workshops to show techniques of growing from seed, composting, keeping chickens, understanding soil and companion planting and more.

PermaBlitz BOP has about three events “in the pipeline” and now hopes to extend itself over the region. For more information, visit: