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Why Permaculture

January 24, 2006

I have a confession to make, despite my promotion of permaculture I have never ever practiced it, or even attended a course, so here’s a few things to explain how I got to this point of view.

+ 2002 My Aussie aunt gives me a copy of ‘Introduction to Permaculture’ by Bill Mollison and Reny Mia Slay, My wife is interested but I flick absentmindedly through the pages and leave it at that.

+ In the 2004 Ecoshow I interviewed David Holmgren because someone told me he was one of the originators of Permaculture. I have to laugh at myself over this; I did the interview in the principal’s office of the school that was helping host the Ecoshow. We sat around the desk with the speakerphone on while someone else back at Raglan Community Radio fed the call through to the listeners. I must have asked pretty lame questions too because I really didn’t understand who I was dealing with and I certainly didn’t get permaculture.

+ At the 2005 Ecoshow, having spent the year noticing that a lot of people in my town practice permaculture I’m ready to pay attention. One evening there was a forum on permaculture. The audience asked questions of a panel of 7 permaculture experts and I can’t explain this but the atmosphere was electric, the audience was asking questions like ‘Can permaculture bring about world peace’ It sounds really silly now but no one left the room. Geoff Lawton (who has worked on aid projects in places like Kosovo and Iraq) said afterwards that he had to sit on his hands to stop himself leaping up and grabbing the mike. There was, as they say, a lot of emotion in the room.

+ From the same Ecoshow I learn how Geoff Lawton ran a project that managed to get food growing on the desert in Jordan. And we’re not talking about a natural desert either, this was a piece of land that was utterly barren with a hard packed salt layer over it. All it should have been good for was parking cars but within 3 years they had a self sustaining permaculture project in action. I have recordings of Geoff talking about this but the best way to see what they did in Jordan is to go to this site. Scroll down a bit and on the right is a logo that says “Greening the Desert’ which will download a little production. It’s 1.5 MB which took me 5 minutes to download on dial-up and it’s absolutely riveting.
Note that in the production you’ll see that they used irrigation. What we now know is that they were able to turn is off after 3 years.

After reading a thread at the Anthropik Network where people were discussing how we needed to learn to be hunter/gatherers to survive the crash I emailed Ran Prieur for his thoughts, he posted this on his site;

“Growing your own food is a much more realistic survival strategy than foraging/hunting, because that requires a healthy ecosystem with lots of edible wild plants and animals. The more nature is depleted, … the more we must survive by building up the soil and water locally”

Good point!

I said this in a previous posting and I’ll say it again: I’ve tried talking about this (permaculture) with peak oilers but my suggestions were met with disbelief, outright rejection and plain old confusion, doing something like that just didn’t seem to fit into their world view.

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One comment

  1. […] permaculture it is often in the same terms that people would use for a religious conversion. Even this telling of my own experiences seem to have that air about it. Again, we shouldn’t be surprised […]



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