The story so far

Tamara left Bunyip in April 2009 seeking what she needed to know for her permaculture future. She spent 9 months at her Aunt Catherine's farm in Arid South Australia, then 9 months at Bill and Lisa Mollison's farm in Tasmania. Now she's off on more adventures starting Moonrise School of Permaculture and teaching Permaculture Design Courses in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne. Ducky is there for the journey...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sunday Permaculture Breakfasts in Upwey

The sunday permaculture breakfast in Upwey has been going for over a year now and has gathered a pace all its own. People come and go throughout the day - I get home around 3pm (with a sore throat from talking all day) but most people come between 9.30 and 11.30.

If you walk into Magpie Cafe in Upwey at 10.30 on a sunday, the place will be packed, you will be warmly greeted and found a place at the sprawling permie table. Many great friendships have been forged over coffee and free range eggs, and Ducky looks forward to seeing his special adult and children friends as much as they look forward to seeing him.

So how did we start it? Last year some of the Upwey permaculture and Transition Town people took the train to the Lantern Parade in Belgrave and had dinner afterwards. We enjoyed each other's company so much we decided to meet for breakfast the next day. We never thought it would become such an important part of our lives or lead to the formation of the Ultra Local Upwey Permaculture Group, permablitzes and PDCs. 

Here are some ideas for starting your own permaculture breakfast:

1. Choose a local cafe that shares your permaculture ethics - care of the earth, care of people, share the surplus, Magpie Cafe in Upwey has mainly organic ingredients, makes most things from scratch and uses free range eggs and bacon and good coffee and is where most of us ate or drank already. Members of its staff were studying permaculture and are deeply concerned with community. Use the same cafe every week.
Note: A public place is a good idea - it means that no one has to keep their house tidy for guests and it is always at the same place even when people are away. It is also easier to invite people along to a cafe rather than someone's house. 

2. At least one person needs to be at the cafe until numbers start to increase. This means the commitment of one or two people to carry the weekly event. There were several weeks when the weekly breakfast was myself and one other wonderful woman, Michelle Jones, and sometimes it was only one of us. We had a mascot for the table (a chook) and anyone who walked in looking a bit scruffy were asked if they were here for the Permie Breakfast. After a month or two there were three or four people who came every week and the commitment became friendship. This time might be shorter if you already have a permaculture group in your area.

3. We set a time frame of one hour - 9.30 to 10.30. One of us was always there during these times.

4. Have two or three contact people, sometimes we are busy or even out of the country!!! Share the load. 

5. We let people know with a poster on the pinboard in the cafe and in other places in Upwey. The breakfast now grows mainly through word of mouth. Whenever we meet awesome people we'd like to get to know better we just invite them to breakfast :) We have also had our events up on facebook and we now have a page for the local group. Add people to an email list and send them out info.

6. We meet weekly. Friendships are formed much faster with weekly contact, even a very short hello once a week will create connections faster than a monthly meeting (I do support monthly meetings, they are fantastic too). This is all about creating a human ecology of regularly maintained connections.

7. Tell the cafe what you're doing - they will hopefully like the idea, and be able to staff for it when it becomes larger, but more importantly they will tell people about the breakfast.

8. Have fun. This is a social day with no commitments whatsoever. Make it clear to people you invite that it is just breakfast. No one needs to join a committee or is roped into work. This is a commitment free permaculture breakfast. People can come as often as they like. Some people will come weekly and some will come monthly, some will come once or twice a year. Tell people this is okay. There is no need to commit to regular breakfasts - they are just a place to come and meet like minded people and then go home again feeling happier for the contact.

9. If you want to grow your group or breakfast or community quickly, run some free courses. Run a free introduction to permaculture or two full Permaculture Design Certificates (PDCs) like we did. Its a fast way to increase the number of permies in the area and start effecting real change.

10. Have an animal mascot. If your cafe has an outdoor area, have a favourite chook or duck that people and children will want to see. It helps other people in the cafe get to know about permaculture too. Ducky comes every week and there are people that come just to see him.
Ducky is the star attraction at Upwey sunday permaculture breakfasts
11. Be prepared for the friendships you will form. You may never feel alone or different in the world again. The breakfasts have become an essential part of my weekly routine, my life and my sanity. The people in our group have been tremendously supporting to each other. We have started many community projects just by chatting over coffee. These friends have helped me start teaching PDCs, I know that without them it would not have happened. So thank you Upwey permies, I LOVE YOU!!!

Good luck everyone!!! These are just my points, other people in the group will probably have more to share - its been an amazing group effort!!! Send us any ideas or comments you have - or how you go with your own breakfast!!! 

Love Tamara and Ducky xxx qqq


  1. Fantastic! Thank you for sharing & inspiring! :) off to organize our premise peeps a brekky get together.

  2. Fabulous Meg, please let us know how you go and any tips you have for the breakfasts :)