About Me (Fiona Blackham) and
Behind the scenes and how the business developed
Back in the mid 1990's I was living in Vancouver, Canada and my neighbour owned a herbalist shop called "Gaia Garden Herbal Dispensary". I knew one day, I would also have a business called "Gaia" I just didn't know what it would be.
Gaia Permaculture was founded in Perth in 2010 as a Landscape Gardening business where I started to notice how poorly designed gardens resulted in an unsustainable use of labour and a trigger happy approach to using chemicals as a quick fix. There had to be a better way!
After completing a 72 hour Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) in 2012 I realized there was a better way and that was by using Permaculture design system thinking to create beautiful and functional spaces that were not only productive and energy efficient, but looked after the earth and people. I immediately started to run as a “no chemicals” landscape gardening & design business with many regular clients, real estate agency properties I looked after as well as putting my toes in the design waters.
Permaculture can be applied to either a small courtyard or to a large broadacre farm.
The PDC had opened the pandora’s box about permaculture for me, and after 2 years of further study, I completed a Certificate IV and then Diploma of Permaculture in 2014 which helped me to branch into permaculture design, consultation & landscaping. An intensive one week teacher training with Robin Clayfield and another with Ross Mars gave me a taste for educating others.
Experience over 5 years as a school landscape gardener gave me the flexibility and creativity to flex my permaculture muscles, which were even more developed when I became the school gardening teacher for 3 years. I worked with all primary classes once a week in the kitchen garden and orchard, where produce was used in the weekly cooking classes or sold to the school community with funds being redirected back into the kitchen garden program.
After 8 years in “on the tools” landscaping, I have only recently hung up (most) of my landscape gardening tools to better direct my energy into Gaia Permaculture providing design solutions and consultation for clients with tailor made solutions based on personal needs, budgets, outcomes and personalities. It is also because I’m getting to old and cranky for manual labour in Summer … no really. It is true! Ask my family!
My passion and interest in the environment has lead me to part time study at Murdoch University doing a double degree in Environmental Science and Environmental Sustainability and Management and whilst the double degree sounds somewhat impressive, it really only equates to 2 extra units over the entirety of the degree, so really I am adopting a Permaculture approach to my study also where each element has multiple functions!
I also educate the public by working closely with Shires, Cities and Councils in supporting their environment and sustainability series through facilitation of workshops to adults and children throughout Perth. I teach Certificate I & II Permaculture in high schools and Certificate III to Diploma Permaculture and in addition non-accredited Introduction to Permaculture workshops for those who want to know a little, 72 hour PDC’s for those who want to know a bit more and various other workshops centred around educating participants on more regenerative choices and solutions.
Education on environment and sustainability is paramount to our planet and providing a new approach to landscape design through education of clients and students is something I am passionate about.
My goal is to not only create beautiful Permaculture properties that are energy efficient, sustainable, productive and beautiful, but to improve the way my clients and students live and see their role, their contribution to the natural environment and also to their community.
I hope I can translate what I learn to support our environment and relay this to my clients through consultation and designs and to my students through education.
Incidentally, my old neighbours shop in Vancouver on West Broadway is still going strong 30+ years later!