Biodynamic Agriculture

posted 8 Sep 2014, 23:55 by Kestrel Maher

Whilst organic agriculture takes a view of care for the land, adding nothing poisonous and rehabilitating soils, biodynamics goes a step further and brings life-force to the soil.

An impulse of 1920's critical thinker and spiritual scientist, Rudolf Steiner, biodynamics works to bridge the physical and metaphysical.

petra making biodynamic flowform
One of the ways that Biodynamics is supported is with water flow-forms.  These are forms that cause water to flow in a lemniscape (figure 8 infinity symbol), creating vortexes in both directions to bring cosmic forces from the heavens into the water, activating life force as well as changing the physical properties of the water through oxygenation.

The flowforms are used to purify water and to mix biodynamic preparations.

We have been fortunate to bring Living Flowforms director, and the most knowledgeable man in flowforms in the southern hemisphere, to Bellbunya for a 3 day workshop.

biodynamic flowform mould making
At the workshop we made a number of flowform moulds, with the intention of setting up Flowform displays at Bellbunya.  We already have 1 series of flowforms that feed into the ponds near the Bellbunya community house; over the coming months we will create a series of mould to use in connection with the natural swimming pool.

Photos from the event have been posted Bellbunya's Facebook Page.

We are following up with a free talk on biodynamics at the September 25 Swap-meet at Bellbunya with Rob Birse, one of Queensland's most experienced biodynamic teachers.

See the Bellbunya events page for more information.

International Student Volunteers

posted 11 Apr 2013, 18:37 by Kestrel Maher   [ updated 11 Apr 2013, 18:38 ]

student volunteers 2012 on the lantana
This year Sustainable Living Assoc director, Karyn Maher, will be leading three teams of young student volunteers from USA and Canada for six weeks between May and July to rehabilitate a vital wildlife corridor at the Bellbunya Centre for Sustainable Living.

Bellbunya is uniquely placed in the Mary Valley as a vital link between two major forests; the Mapleton National Park to the East and the West Cooroy State Forest to the West.  A main tributary of Belli Creek meanders through Bellbunya, derived from underground springs on the property.

Last year we were able to build and extend on past projects rehabilitating Belli Creek tributory, as a targeted waterway.  We were able to rehabiliate and extend a pivotal wildlife corridor between the Cooroy West State Forest and the Mapleton National Park, supporting existing Catchment Care and Council projects in the region that develop these linkages.

Working with 2 international volunteer groups, we lead two 10-12 person task forces over a total of 26 days of intensive land rehabiliation.  Through organic methods and a significant amount of labour, we were able to clear around 4 acres of invasive weeds, including Lantana, Desmodium, Glycine, Pepper Trees, Mock Orange and Ochna serrulata  from riparian areas.  In the process of clearing, we idenitified and liberated several thousand young native flora that were being smothered and inhibited by invasive weeds.  The clearing will encourage and support this process of natural regeneration.

We were able to infill important creek banks and overflow area with fast-growing native trees to provide bank stability and cover to inhibit kikuya growth, enhancing the environmental work carried out over the past 8 years and building on existing remnant vegetation, including Regional ecosystem 12.3.1.  This work will encourage and support endangered and vulnerable frog species known to inhabit this creek, including the Giant Barred Frog, the Cascade Tree Frog and the Tusked Frog.

before and after
We infilled areas of past regeneration projects and existing remnant areas, using a variety of native species that were not present on site yet would once have been part of this eco-system.  Species planted include vulnerable and rare species, such as the Giant Ironbark tree, and important habitat plants for endangered species, such as the Richmond Birdwing vine to support their known populations in the area. 

Consistent with our organic approach to land rehabilitation, plants were fed organic fertiliser and mulched when planted to facilitate initial plant growth.  In grassy areas, weed matting was used to inhibit weed competition.

In all, we planted around 1500 indigenous plants incorporating almost 100 diverse species and liberated an estimated 5000-6000 young native plants that would otherwise have been lost.  We rehabilitated around 4 acres of important habitat.

On the couch - "Community building" with Mark Snell

posted 19 Sep 2012, 18:54 by Kestrel Maher

When:             Sunday afternoon, 23rd September, from 2pm
Where:             Bellbunya Sustainable Community & Eco-Retreat Centre, 114 Browns Road, Belli Park
What:             “On the Couch” with Mark Snell – discussing “Creating a strong, hinterland community”

There is no doubt that living in the hinterland is living in a slice of paradise.  In contrast to this, we face the tyranny of distance and isolation.  Added to this is the high cost of rural living from a financial and land-maintenance perspective.  Do co-operatively based communities offer a solution?


Leading Melbourne speaker on co-operative communities, Mark Snell, is at the Bellbunya Sustainable Community on 23rd September, where he will lead an “on the couch” discussion from 2pm-4pm.

 Mark will be exploring questions such as what is a co-operative economy?  Is there a role for social enterprises to build strong local community? What role can intentional communities play in relocalisation?

 Mark Snell is chairman of Equilibrium Community Ecology Inc, a community-based non-profit eco-village group on the NSW Central Coast, which operates an online Co-operative Living Information Service ( A co-founder of the   Moora Moora Co-operative Community Ltd in Healesville Victoria, a community settlement co-operative that remains successful after more than 30 years, Mark is passionate about co-operative living. He is honorary editor of a local newspaper in NSW.

 Everyone is welcome, cost is by donation. The discussion will be followed by a tour of Bellbunya Community. Questions and bookings can be directed to Karyn Maher at Bellbunya on 54470181 or email

Permaculture Design Course

posted 3 Oct 2011, 01:19 by Kestrel Maher   [ updated 21 Dec 2011, 02:17 ]

As part of our sustainable agriculture projects, we are co-ordinating an 80 hour community based Permaculture Design Course with a practical element at the Bellbunya Sustainable Community and Eco-conference Centre in Belli Park.

Based in an intentional community setting, the course will teach a holistic approach to whole farm planning.

Conducted over an initial 3 day period in January, followed by 10 days in February, this is a live-in intensive course.  Students will learn ways to build resilience in their properties to buffer the effects of climate change through best practice design, water management, soil health and integrated plant-animcal systems. Limited to 15 participants, the course incorporates sub-tropical designs and management for climate adaptation.

The course will be taught by Dick Copeman, co-author of the Northey Street City Farm Permaculture courses in Brisbane who has been teaching permaculture for some 20 years, and by Bunya (Brad) Halasz, who is a long-standing PDC teacher with Northey Street City Far
m and is renown for his expertise in designing and planting for the sub-tropics and running "growing roots" programs. Additional expertise will be brought in through guest presenters Gavin Hardy, Tim Auld and Tim Lang.
The course will be held from 13th-15th January, and 7-17th February excluding Monday 13th February.

Please contact us for more information.

Sustainable Kitchen - Low Food Mile Restaurant

posted 22 Nov 2010, 17:47 by Kestrel Maher

One of the most important things that we can do for the planet is recognise the impact of our choices in consumption.  Eating food is something we do every day.  Yet how many of us know where our food has come from?

Research indicates that the average Australian meal has travelled over 2000 kilometres to reach the plate.  Our humble sandwich may have an origin as grain on a farm in South Western Queensland, be transported to New South Wales where it is made into flour, then into Victoria where it becomes bread.  It's then wrapped in plastic ( made from oil that has been drilled in Saudia Arabia, shipped to China where it is made into plastic, shipped into Darwin and then shipped to the bakery in Victoria).  The cheese comes from a cow in a dairy in South Australia on the Murray River, the cheese manufactured in Victoria, transported to Woolies base in NSW before being shipped around the country.  The lettuce has been in cold storage for 10 days since it left its hydroponic farm in our countries "food bowl" in the Murray-Darling Basin, at a cost of 80 litres of water per lettuce and has never been in contact with sun or soil.  The mayonaise has been produced in Turkey, and includes imported vegetable oil from Iraq; the squeeze bottle it came in was manufactured in China from components sourced from the Middle East.

What is wrong with this picture?

*   Wasting the limited and valuable fossil fuel resources that were created over millions of years, shuffling food-stuffs all over the planet.
*   Packaging uses finite resources in its manufacture, and more resources in its disposal.
*   What are the health consequences of food that has been filled with preservatives to travel long distances?  Of food that has no connection with the soil?  What has happened to the enzymes and life forces of the food
*   What are the social and spiritual consequences of disassociating eating from our experience of growing, nurturing, harvesting food?

Sustainable Living Association Inc is working with Bellbunya to develop "The Sustainable Kitchen"; a low food mile kitchen where the bulk of food served is grown in South East Queensland, on ethically based organic farms and bought with minimal packaging, much of which is reused.  

This ties in with our eco-agriculture project, where we are working on supplying 90% of all fresh fruit and vegetables used in the restaurant from the Bellbunya site or within 10 kilometres by Easter, 2012, highlighting and supporting local organic enterprises.
Ethical, sustaining food production creating delicious, living, healthy meals with as close to zero food miles as possible.  

Ploughing a new future thanks to GCBF

posted 26 Feb 2010, 01:44 by Chris Gibbings   [ updated 28 Feb 2010, 20:46 by Kestrel Maher ]

We have just received a huge boost in our efforts to enthuse local growers about sustainable agriculture.

Our dream of teaching and promoting eco-agriculture is becoming a reality, thanks to a $33,000 grant from the Queensland Government’s Gambling Community Benefit Fund. 

The grant has enabled us to purchase a new tractor and accessories.

The Sustainable Living Association Inc was formed to support holistic sustainability as a model of living for the future.

We are partnering with other environmental and community organisations to model and teach sustainable agriculture at the Bellbunya Sustainable Community and Eco-Conference Centre in Belli Park.

This tractor will be an invaluable aid to us and will save our volunteers thousands of man hours.

As a fertile area with high rainfall, agriculture is a major activity of the hinterland for a variety of small-scale and lifestyle farmers. 

Sustainable Living Association Inc aims to build the knowledge, desire and skill base of local growers to grow healthy food in sustainable ways.  We support and run sustainability workshops from Bellbunya, and are currently working with the community to develop sustainable land use plans for the Centre.

Association for Sustainable Communities Inc spokesperson Chris Gibbings was thrilled with the tractor.  “This tractor will be a huge support for us at Bellbunya to regenerate and care for the land, fence animals away from Belli Creek, increase biodiversity, and model permaculture food forests,” he said.

 “We are always open to new partnerships and projects that build more sustainable futures.”

“We welcome groups to use Bellbunya as a base for workshops and conferences and actively promote holistically sustaining, relocalised communities.”

 To use the centre or find out more about the sustainable agriculture project visit

We acknowledge with appreciation the invaluable support of the Gambling Community Benefit Fund for providing $33,000 to purchase a tractor and accessories.

Sustainable Living at Bellbunya Eco-Conference Centre

posted 15 Oct 2009, 08:02 by Chris Gibbings   [ updated 28 Feb 2010, 20:56 by Kestrel Maher ]

We are proud to base our activities from the Bellbunya sustainable community and eco-conference centre at Belli Park.

Sustainable Living Association played an important role in the establishment of the centre in December 2008.  The centre acts as a model for a holistically sustaining future, with a four-bottom-line community aiming to model spiritual, social, economic and physical sustainability.

The Centre is open to like-minded groups who wish to run workshops and conferences, and is ideally located on a rural property 10 minutes from Eumundi in Belli Park on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

Bellbunya offers rural accommodation with a focus on learning and teaching ecologically sustainable practices, supporting communities and developing personal skills and awareness.  They are growing sustainable industries that develop the healthy interplay of relationships with our environment and each other.

With comfortable, extensive accommodation and well-equipped conference facilities, Bellbunya provides an inspirational learning environment within a rural setting that is ideal for:Bellbunya entrance

  • Group eco-awareness
  • Sustainable farming and building workshops
  • Green technology workshops
  • Community and team-building retreats
  • Healthy Living and cooking classes
  • Spiritual retreats and personal awareness
 Sustainable Living Association Inc is proud to sponsor Bellbunya through the construction of an eco-cabin at the Centre.

To find out more about Bellbunya, visit their web-site at

Small Building Workshop

posted 15 Oct 2009, 07:59 by Chris Gibbings   [ updated 28 Feb 2010, 21:55 by Kestrel Maher ]

We were amazed to discover the wonders of small buildings at our recent ecological building workshop held at the Bellbunya Eco-Conference Centre in Belli Park.

We were fortunate indeed to have the founder of Herman's Huts, Malcolm Holtz, as guest speaker and singer.

With sustainable buildings, small is beautiful.

Despite ever increasing household sizes, the trend in Australia has continued to be for increased size of houses.  The average house size is now 245 metres squared for a household of just over 2 people and is continuing an upward trajectory.

Many years ago genius and inventor Buckminster Fuller recognised that unless we reduced the amount of resources we used in housing, there would be wars as there would simply be not enough resources. 

The larger the house, the more energy and resources to construct, the more mate
rials to be moved and generally the more amount of energy to heat and cool. This energy usually comes from the combustion of fossil fuels, depleting these resources and emitting greenhouse gases and pollutants into the air.

Small buildings can be cosy, more manageable, less money and effort to maintain and cheaper to build - making them a more sustainable way of life. 

One key to this is efficient use of space, good organization, and keeping possessions to a manageable level.  Another exciting opportunity we explored is building community. 

Bellbunya community is modeling shared resources and how buildings can be kept small by sharing resources.

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