Permaculture Melbourne Benchmarking Harvest Project
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Website Plan
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Permaculture Melbourne
Chris Watkins

Summary[edit | edit source]

The developer will build a website for the Permaculture Melbourne Benchmarking Harvest Project, with the ability to:

  • Receive food production data from gardeners.
  • Tabulate project data, for the use of the project organisers.
  • Report up-to-date data on the site.
  • Assist in the organisation and running of a workshop in Seaford (planned for late July) to confirm that the website meets the specifications and needs of the project. A working Beta version of the website will be presented at the workshop, and further work will be undertaken .

Background to the Benchmarking Harvest Project[edit | edit source]

The following background information is provided for information purposes, based on information put out by the project. It is not intended to be authoritative or definitive.

Issues underpinning the project:

  • The increasing cost of food is causing food insecure families to focus on cheap calories and eat less fruit and vegetables.
  • The farming processes which supply most of the food consumed by western societies are dependent on high volumes of energy inputs.
  • Food gardens in urban backyards and allotments are believed to produce nutritious food and can do so at low cost and low levels of energy inputs.
  • Small areas can be very productive. The Diggers Seed Club mini plot study at Dromana shows that 10 m2{/2> can grow sufficient vegetables and salad for a person for a year. Many small plots of land are available in urban areas and could be used for growing food.

Announcement[edit | edit source]

The Benchmarking Harvest Project was announced through a number of channels, including the Permaculture Melbourne newsletter (PIE no. 122, June–July 2012):

Benchmarking Garden Productivity
The Benchmarking Project is a simple piece of research to gather yield data and get an idea of the yields coming from household gardens. Permaculture Melbourne is undertaking this research with the assistance of a $5000 volunteers grant from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. If you’re a productive food gardener, and you’d like to measure your garden’s productivity, we’re keen to hear from you. We’ll send you recording sheets, and scales if you need some! The project also needs help with data analysis, gardener liaison and website development. If you’re interested to participate, help behind the scenes, or find out more, contact or John McKenzie on 0421 699 306.

Project aims[edit | edit source]

  1. Identify households with highly productive food gardeners and record their yields.
  2. Provide recognition to the expert gardeners and support them as local educators and role models on food gardening.
  3. Publish an analysis of the yield data.
  4. Provide reference material for policy development on food security for local planners.

Website goals[edit | edit source]

Long term goals are to:

  • Present productive gardens in an accessible form.
  • Demonstrate a desirable lifestyle which is also sustainable and healthy.

The immediate goals and desired features for the website are:

  • A functional system for recording garden productivity (focused on urban and suburban gardens).
  • An easy-to-use interface, suitable for very non-technical people.
  • Clear navigation allowing a visitor to quickly find what they want from any page.
  • Attractive and engaging to encourage them to return.
    • Consistent theme & icons - PM.
    • At a url to be agreed with the client.
  • Allowing live results (recent data) to be viewed.
  • The ability to display a panorama of productivity, including stories and results.
  • Use search-engine-friendly structure and content to aid visibility and help people to find what they need quickly.
  • Allowing users to protect their privacy.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

The planned timeline for the website development is as follows.

  • Finalise arrangements for workshop (by discussion with John McKenzie).
    • Update: workshop is on the backburner due to other priorities. May visit participants in Albury (?).
  • Alpha version with:
    • Working forms
    • Tabulated up-to-date data
    • (If possible) a place for community members to share stories and comment on them.
  • Beta version ready, with:
    • Forms accepting data as specified by the organisers (to be discussed)
    • Public display of data as desired (with no personal data viewable)
  • Final website with functionality as described above.
  • The client to have full access and control over the site, and the ability to post stories, monitor spam, and maintain the database.

Options report[edit | edit source]

WordPress[edit | edit source]

WordPress is a very nice platform:

  • Free and open source software
  • Easy to use, as such platforms go. Moderate technical skill needed to edit skin and layout.
  • Attractive.
  • Excellent anti-spam functionality. (May be required to pay for Akismet, however, as it's only free for individual blogs.)


  • Though free hosting is available at, this doesn't allow full access with plugins.
  • To use plugins (which we will probably need) and have own domain name, must either:
  • Reliant on plugins which may break - API may change or plugin may not be updated for new version of WordPress.

Technical steps and resources:

Google Sites[edit | edit source]