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Farewell Ross Mars — and thanks

Farewell Ross Mars — and thanks

Story by Russ Grayson, first published in Medium 10 November 2023

IT IS WITH SADNESS that I and many others say farewell to Ross Mars.

Ross was widely known and respected among permaculture practitioners. An expert in environmental science, water systems and the permaculture design system, Ross authored several books on permaculture.

Ross also taught permaculture and was a familiar face at permaculture convergences in his home state of Western Australia, where he made a family home at Candlelight Farm in Mundaring in the Perth Hills.

Ross and wife Jenny at APC9.

Ross will be known to permaculture people through his books. They include:

  • Getting Started in Permaculture
  • The Basics of Permaculture
  • The Permaculture Transition Manual
  • Permaculture volume 1 and 2
  • How to Permaculture Your life
  • The Basis of Regenerative Agriculture.

My contact with Ross was sporadic — he lived on the opposite side of the continent — but I recall him as friendly, approachable, knowledgeable and helpful. Ross was a doer. He built things as well as documenting his knowledge in his books to share it with others. He was very much a maker who showed others how to be that too.

It was at APC13 in Perth in 2016 that I last saw Ross. We were on a tour and visited his home at Candlelight Farm. What an inspiration that place was… vegetables growing in raised beds, trees in fruit, large ponds retaining water, big clumps of bamboo, earth-construction buildings and a calm ambience in the bright light and warmth of the Western Australian sun.

Looking back over the photographs of that visit, the words of Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, come to mind about Ross and his family. Yvon said that “the hardest thing to do in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex. The solution, maybe, for a lot of the world’s problems is to turn around and take a forward step. You can’t just keep trying to make a flawed system work.” The evidence that Ross and family had taken that forward step was there all around me at Candlelight Farm.

So, thanks Ross for being a living example of the permaculture design system in action, for your teaching others so they too may find new and constructive directions in life and for your books, which are your legacy that will continue to inspire people.

Here are a few photos of Ross and Candlelight Farm.

Ross talks about the uses of the bamboo grown at Candlelight Farm.
Ross at Candlelight Farm.
Ross leads a tour of Candlelight Farm at APC13.
APC16 tour participants with a baobab tree. Ross in background.

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