About Holmgren Design
From its origins as a consultancy business, Holmgren Design has evolved over the years to include education, publishing and related activities to extend and deepen the understanding and application of permaculture ethics and design principles.
Today a dedicated team at Holmgren Design is building on the pioneering vision of David Holmgren and Su Dennett to contribute to the wider recognition of permaculture as a conceptual framework within the sustainability discourse in Australia and internationally.
The people behind Holmgren Design
David Holmgren is best known as the co-originator of permaculture. In 1978, he and Bill Mollison published Permaculture One, starting the global permaculture movement.
Since then, David has developed three properties, consulted and supervised on urban and rural projects, written eight more books, and presented lectures, workshops and courses in Australia and around the world. His writings over those three decades span a diversity of subjects and issues, whilst always illuminating aspects of permaculture thinking and living.
At home at Melliodora in Hepburn, Central Victoria, Dja Dja Wurrung County, David is the gardener, silviculturist and builder. Within the permaculture movement, David is respected for his commitment to presenting permaculture ideas through practical projects, and showing by personal example that a sustainable lifestyle is a realistic, attractive and powerful alternative to dependent consumerism.
As well as immersion in the practical side of permaculture, David is passionate about the philosophical and conceptual foundations for sustainability, which is the focus of his Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2002/2017). This book has been a significant influence on permaculture thinking and the development of Transition Initiatives around the world. His Future Scenarios work has seen him recognised as a significant thinker about the ‘Energy Descent’ future. RetroSuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future (2018) is his 592-page manual showing how Australians can downshift and retrofit their homes, gardens and selves for resilience into an uncertain future.
David and his partner Su started Melliodora Publishing to promote both his titles and those of other authors writing on related themes.
Su is passionate about food and provides fantastic meals for the larger crew who live, volunteer and work on the property as well as visitors on tours and courses. She also purchases and distributes bulk food, supporting regional producers.
Su also spends her time in community projects. She and Maureen Corbett started the transition initiative Hepburn Relocalisation Network in 2006. In 2013 she was one of two women added to Hepburn Shire Council’s Women’s Honour Role for her community work and leadership in pursuing a low impact, simple lifestyle.
Meg works part time in the HD office doing communications and publicity, and a wide range of admin duties including being David’s PA.
Beck Lowe manages Melliodora Publishing and has been editor and/or project manager on recent new and re-released titles. She also partners with Holmgren Design for the annual Ashram PDC, and is the lead facilitator and tutor. She is the co-author of Our Street with David and was chief text wrangler and project manager in the creation of RetroSuburbia.
Beck runs the Retrosuburbia Trainers and Facilitators Workshops but admits to being the black sheep of the retrosuburbia family, living and working on her 60-acre permaculture farm near Heathcote in central Victoria. Besides work with Holmgren Design / Melliodora Publishing, and running her farm, she teaches permaculture, and is finishing her book on animals in permaculture. becklowe.com.au
Ostii helps guide the vision of Holmgren Design, leading the collaboration on where it should go and the best way to get there.
If Ostii was interested in using corporate terms (which he is not) his role might be something like Chief Operating Officer. Covering technology, accounting, marketing, and more, Ostii is the one who irons out the bumps.
Ostii works closely with Oliver Holmgren to keep the tech, infrastructure and systems working as they should, and coordinates digital strategies across the HD publications and websites.
In 2015, Ostii founded Flowji, offering web courses, workshops and web mentoring, to assist values-aligned enterprise and social entrepreneurs to amplify their impact and make a difference.
Ostii has an obsession with growing (and sharing) rocket and probably spends too much time thinking about the intersection of permaculture and technology, and how to create a more diverse, sustainable, and connected world.
Oliver Holmgren, Su and David’s son, has grown up in the permaculture life and business. He managed most of the IT and web systems for Holmgren Design for many years, and still contributes his knowledge and experience as required. In recent times he has been focused on improving the book distribution systems.
Together with Richard Telford, Oliver runs Permaculture Principles, which looks after the book retail and wholesale systems for Holmgren Design and Melliodora Publishing, as well as promoting information on permaculture in a practical and accessible way through their website. Oliver is a keen photographer, and provided many of the case study photos in RetroSuburbia.
Richard has designed and laid out recent Melliodora Publishing books, and helps co-ordinate new publications. He created and maintains permacultureprinciples.com and is the publisher of the Permaculture Calendar. Back in 2000, he collaborated with David designing the permaculture principles icons. Together with Oliver Holmgren, Richard runs Permaculture Principles.
Richard writes a blog Abdallah House documenting his home at Seymour, Victoria where he lives with his partner Kunie and their two sons, Kai and Sen.
In 2021, he was awarded a Permaculture Service Award from Permaculture Australia for his contribution to the permaculture movement, in particular by increasing the global accessibility of permaculture through permacultureprinciples.com, and through his permaculture graphic design.
Fernando is the financial officer for Holmgren Design and marketing consultant for Permaculture Principles. He combines his MBA and business experience with permaculture knowledge, keeping the finance information flowing so the teams can make informed decisions that are not only right for them, but also for the community and for the planet.
Fernando has a passion for community building and working to understand how we can sit with our differences and live with each other. Born and raised in Colombia, he loves music, dancing and tropical fruits. He also has a passion for home-brewing beers and fermented beverages, and enjoys sharing and drinking them with friends.
Kat Dretzke (and Zappa)
Being super passionate about both books and permaculture, Kat is publishing assistant as well as marketing and admin organiser at Melliodora Publishing. With over 15 years experience in the book industry, Kat only started working with HD around Feb 2021 after Beck saved her from a job she was really not loving.
When not working, Kat can be found talking, singing and dancing with her family of animals or bum up, head down in the garden most likely staring at something moving or growing. If you still can’t find her doing these things she’s probably reading. Kat believes in a do-it-yourself lifestyle where passion is more important than degrees, and that communities that dance together can achieve anything.
Cathy was born in a little village in the centre of Thailand. Since she was little, she has always been surrounded by greenery, thus her love for nature. This relationship plays a big role in her working experience with Holmgren, making it one of her favourite things to do.
She was introduced to the Holmgren team by Ostii Ananda, founder of Flowji, and is currently working as a virtual assistant for both Holmgren Design and Flowji.
Cathy oversees the content updates on Holmgren Design and RestroSuburbia websites, which has led to her interest in permaculture. Gardening has become one of her more passionate hobbies and nowadays she is obsessed with growing her own fruit and vegetables at home.
Venie Holmgren (15-9-1922 – 27-1-2016)
Venie Holmgren was born in the little village of York, in Western Australia. She produced five collections of poetry, a poetry CD with music and a travel memoir.
She was a veteran environmental and peace activist over more decades than most of us have been alive.
She has performed her work in pubs, cafés, prisons and at peace and environmental rallies and festivals. She performed abroad in Germany, India, Canada and the U.S. and was visiting poet at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. in 1998.
Her poetry was informed by a wide range of experience including 15 years of self reliant living in the passive solar house and permaculture garden documented in Permaculture In The Bush and her move to Melliodora.
A sense of direction, a book about her time on the road in the late 1970′s includes her time spent with David just after the publication of Permaculture One.
Poets of the Bega Valley includes her readings and interviews with Tim Metcalf.
David and Su established the Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize to honour Venie, which has been held annually since 2016.