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Thoughts on Permaculture

Thoughts on Permaculture

All of us would acknowledge our own work as modest; it is the totality of such modest work that is impressive. Great changes are taking place. Why not join us in the making of a better future.

Ingenio Patet Campus — the field lies open to the intellect.

Bill Mollison, co-originator of the permaculture concept 2 May 2012

Permaculture is design for sustainable living and landuse. From its Australian origins in the 1970’s permaculture has spread around the world creating positive and future-proof environmental solutions. Over more than three decades permaculture activists have pioneered many of today’s mainstream environmental solutions from landcare to school gardens, from passive solar design to compost toilets, from ethical investment to farmers markets. But the autonomous, diffuse and decentralised nature of permaculture has tended to hide its great contribution to improving communities across the nation. Interational Permaculture Day is an opportunity to shine a light on the diversity of permaculture projects and people that are building our sustainable future now.

David Holmgen, co-originator of the permaculture concept 2 May 2012

Permaculture led me to the woods, once within them, its design philosophy opened my eyes to the resource of coppice woodlands. This is a system where human activity and harvesting of a cyclical yield of timber increases bio-diversity and provides a regular supply of material for Roundwood Timber Framing. From this we can build our homes for the future and know our resources will be available for future generations.

Ben Law, Woodsman, Permaculture Writer 

Permaculture is practical, grass roots sustainability in action. It provides immediate tools for people to reduce their environmental footprint and build resilient communities.

Josh Byrne, Gardening Australia

Permaculture shows us how we can meet our human needs while regenerating the environment around us. It’s the most hopeful path to the future that I know of. Now as never before it’s time for us all to step up the scale of our work and teaching. In a world of greed, despair, and destruction, we can provide a positive alternative.


What permaculturists are doing is the most important activity that any group is doing on the planet.

David Suzuki Geneticist, broadcaster, & international environmental activist

National Permaculture Day is a chance to share thoughts, visions and lots of common sense ways that we can all make a positive difference to the world we live in.Its all about combining age old truths and skills with new and innovative thinking and technologies …people,plants and landscapes growing together , designing and nurturing a healthy community along the way.

Costa Georgiadis

National Permaculture Day is the day we should remember just how important Permaculture is to Australia because it was here that the movement sparked into life and it has since become a global fire.

Permaculture is Australias offering to the world as a real and viable solution to the crisis that we now face worldwide due to the excessive and unsustainable lifestyle of a minority of the worlds population.

Permaculture gives us guidelines for repair to damage already done and to cease continuing our damaging practices, starting with three basic governing principles:

… Earth Care — care for all living and non living things eg. animals, plants, land, water and air.
… People Care — promotion of self reliance and community responsibility
… Return of Surplus — passing on of anything surplus to our needs eg. money, labour, information

We can thank Bill Mollison for his tremendous contribution to the world and Australia can be proud that it is here that such a movement was born.  I urge all Australians to familiarise themselves with Permaculture practices and help us to continue this work and make it grow to its full potential.

Geoff Lawton (Jamal Al Deen), Director, Permaculture Research Institute Australia

NPD Day means to me the coming together of many, many permaculture approaches in different climates, soils and situations. As we work towards this as a group in Cairns, I think of mates doing similar things for the same reason….to showcase to our nation the potential of Permaculture for the current and future challenging times. The sense of orchestrated purpose and camaraderie is motivating as well as nurturing and as a support to national conferences is a great way to bring us all together in what we do best….local practical action.

Janet Millington, President Permaculture Cairns

To all Permaculture practitioners, supporters and activists may I wish you well and ongoing success on Permaculture Day.  You might be scattered across the globe and often isolated, but you can be proud to be part of a movement in which people are leading meaningful lives while bettering life for all of humanity.  Never in history have humans faced a more grave threat than today in the form of biodiversity loss, desertification and climate change, and you are at the leading edge as we face the future moving beyond the narrow confines of mainstream agriculture as you do in your design philosophy and practices.

Agriculture, contrary to mainstream thinking is not crop production alone but is the production of food and fibre from the world’s land and waters.  Croplands only cover about 18% of the Earth’s land area.  And in the most problematic region of the world across North Africa to Pakistan only 1% to 5% of many countries are croplands.   Agriculture today is producing far more eroding soil than food, burning billions of acres of grasslands annually as well as tropical forests, and causing desertification to go viral globally. When all is taken into account – soil destruction, burning, desertification –  agriculture is clearly causing climate change as much as, if not more than, fossil fuels.  And agriculture, not climate change, is causing ever increasing droughts, floods, poverty, social breakdown and violence as well as mass cultural genocide and movement to cities. And what is more serious is that even in a post-fossil-fuel world agriculture will, unless changed, lead to continued climate change, as cropland and grassland soils become increasingly incapable of storing carbon or breaking down methane.

Design and management, as Permaculturalists well know, lies at the heart of solutions whether in our cities or in agriculture.  The way we have managed livestock for thousands of years causes both carbon and water to move from soil to atmosphere and reduces soil’s ability to break down methane.  Properly managed livestock mimicking nature does the opposite, storing carbon and water in the soil while increasing it’s ability to deal with methane. And on our croplands we see the same principle with mainstream technological agriculture causing climate change while properly designed crop production does the opposite.

Gradually, and you have played a leading role, we are seeing constructive new thinking that might yet serve to save humanity and civilization as we know it.  And we are seeing a steady coalescing of good people and organizations seeking solutions across the board from redesigned cities mimicking nature, to those of us addressing destructive cropping practices, desertification and climate change, the destruction of ocean life, and the government policies that allow the status quo to continue, or even encourage it.

Leadership, so desperately needed, can never come from governments, international agencies, corporations or universities but only from ordinary people like yourselves and you are certainly playing your part daily.

Over the years, since first meeting Bill Mollison and being exposed to the design principles of Permaculture, I have enjoyed many friendships and earnest discussions on what we can do to change the status quo.  I believe we can move forward even more meaningfully by closer collaboration – between the Savory Institute and yourselves.  I look forward to working with you as we strive to bring about the future we can create much more effectively together.

Allan Savory, President, Savory Institute,Boulder, Colorado, USA

Robinson: Sustainability is a captured word, and sustainable development is a captured phrase, a kind of greenwashing. Now it means, we can keep on doing capitalism and get away with it. Permaculture on the other hand implies permanence, but also permutation—some kind of dynamic stability or robustness, by making really long-term health the goal. …

I don’t think of myself as a humanist in the usual definition, but I’m definitely not a believer in deep ecology either. I don’t like the Ludditeism and antihumanism of deep ecology. I call myself a shallow ecologist.

We’re completely part of the biosphere and networked with, and our health is dependent on it. But Gary Snyder among others has taught me that the nature-culture divide is a blurry, unnatural divide; we’re interpolated with the planet. The more we learn, the more we realize we’re “bubbles of earth.” But we’re also its self-consciousness. We’re its most articulate language speakers. We’re the ones who can mess things up really badly.

But I can’t go with the part of the environmental movement that is antitechnological. We’re so technological. I’ve been thinking about this and trying to look at if from a different angle. Can we find a balance, a way of doing things by the use of science and technology and political cleverness, that we could get to permaculture?… Boom magazine.

Kim Stanley Robinson, Science fiction writer

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