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 2013 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.
Permaculture Consultant and Designer
After 8 years in “on the tools” landscaping, I hung up my landscape gardening tools three years ago 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!
Education - Workshops, Courses, PDC's and VET Trainer & Assessor
With a Cert IV in Training & Assessment (TAFE Lecturer for the old school readers) I deliver Certificate I & II Permaculture in high schools and also Certificate III to Diploma Permaculture to adults and school levers.
I am part owner of Permaculture Educators Alliance and we have a Partnership Agreement with Skills Strategies International, a Registered Training Organization (RTO) to deliver Nationally Recognized Permaculture qualifications here in Perth.
Permaculture Educators Alliance also lead the way with facilitation of Permaculture Design Courses right here in Perth with a variety of delivery options across schools Terms 1 to 4.
I facilitate workshops with Shires, Cities and Councils, local and national catchment and resource management groups through support of their environment and sustainability series to adults and children throughout Perth and rural Western Australia.
Sustainability Officer with City of Stirling
Since August 2021 I have been in a back fill position as Sustainability Officer in Parks and Sustainability with the City of Stirling where I support existing and emerging community gardens in addition to heading up the Living Green Schools Project and supporting the Urban Canopy role.
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.
Further Education - Bachelor of Sustainability (Community Engagement & Development)
After a brief dabble for a year at Murdoch University doing B.Sc (Env Sc & Env Sc & Sust) and a false start at UWA doing a B. Env Design (Landscape Architect) I am settling into part time online study for a Bachelor of Sustainability with University of New England, majoring in Community Engagement & Development with speciality yet to be decided - however water sustainability is #1 favourite at the moment.
Incidentally, my old neighbours shop in Vancouver on West Broadway is still going strong 30+ years later!