#PeopleOfNRM – Josh Byrne

Who better to talk about in this month’s #PeopleOfNRM than Gardening Australia’s Josh Byrne?

Josh recently joined us in Dongara for a Sustainable Properties event where we learned all about sustainably managing a healthy garden, large or small. We’ve caught up with him to chat about all things gardening and how his passion has become his career!

Growing up in Esperance on the south coast of Western Australia, Josh was exposed to some of the country’s most pristine landscapes and flora, sparking his passion for the environment at an early age.

By the time he was 15, Josh was not only managing his own thriving veggie garden but also took over his father’s herb collection. Josh’s father encouraged his interest by gifting him books on organic gardening and Permaculture.

Josh says that this reading, along with school studies, helped him to realise that sustainable gardening offered limitless opportunities when it came to making positive environmental change.

“My interest soon blossomed into a thirst for learning all there is to know about sustainable landscaping and environmental design. I went on to study Environmental Science at university, eventually completing a PhD while also working in sustainability related roles spanning consulting, research and media,” Josh said.

“Being able to travel extensively and visit sustainable gardening and farming projects all around the world has been a big part of the journey that has got me where I am today.”

However, with travel being restricted significantly by COVID-19, NACC NRM has been very lucky to have Josh deliver a great event in Dongara where he taught us how to be the best possible land managers! And when it came to lockdown, it turns out we weren’t the only ones who found ourselves gardening more than ever in an attempt to keep busy!

“Our garden was our family sanctuary during the COVID-19 lockdown and spending so much time at home highlighted just how important our garden is to our wellbeing,” said Josh, who also continued to film for Gardening Australia from his very own backyard.

The cogs continue to turn and the future is looking jam packed full of projects for all green thumbs to follow along with! Josh has recently released a new book called ‘The Sustainable House Handbook’, which documents the design, construction and operation of Josh’s 10 star NatHERS family home and how the concept can be applied to regions across Australia!

If you’re a little ‘green’ to gardening and aren’t sure where to start, Josh recommends thorough research before launching into a project and learning from yours and others’ mistakes!

“Successful outcomes are much more likely with good planning and preparation, however there’s no better way to learn than by doing, and hands on experience is hard to beat,” said Josh.

With the warmer weather creeping in, Josh says ensuring your irrigation system is sound and reliable so that water is used as efficiently as possible, will be imperative to keeping your garden thriving through summer. 

“In summer-dry climates, it’s a good idea to top up mulch on garden beds to conserve moisture and protect the soil and plant roots from heat.”

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