Author Archive | HD Office

PDC in 2016

Ashram Garden and CompostingThinking about learning permaculture for a while? It is time to make the first step, and join us in February for a very special Permaculture Design Course. Organised by Tread Lightly Permaculture and Holmgren Design, this course is unique, like no other, because

Taken by Constanza von Marees during the 2015 PDC.

Taken by Constanza von Marees during the 2015 PDC.

  • You will learn from the very original cofounder of permaculture, David Holmgren, and a team of world class permaculture practitioners and educators. Their depth of practical and theoretical knowledge will make this very special standout PDC. There will be ample opportunity to socialise with the presenters outside the session times.
  • This is the course designed specifically to the twelve principles David details in Permaculture: principles and pathways beyond sustainability. We will focus on one principle a day, and by the end of the course, you will be equipped with the foundations of permaculture philosophy, design and knowledge. You will receive a certificate at the end of the course which makes you eligible to practice or teach permaculture commercially and to proceed towards the Diploma in Permaculture Design.
  • The course will take place in the Wombat Forest south of Daylesford at the beautiful Rocklyn Yoga Ashram. This remote setting away from towns, traffic and the temptations of noise and junk food, will be ideal for learning permaculture.
  • You will see many working examples of permaculture during the course. The Ashram’s extensive garden, designed and completed by David and Hamish MacCallum, will feed you during the course.  You will also see permaculture design applications in both urbane and rural settings in the local area including one of the best permaculture demonstration sites in the world, Melliodora.
  • The serene and spiritual focus of the Ashram complements the mindfulness of permaculture practice and reminds us to balance our activity and thinking with reflection, a point not normally emphasised in PDCs. You are encouraged to take part in the Ashram’s daily yoga programs.
  • 2016 PDC at Rocklyn AshramDelicious wholesome and nutritious meals will be prepared by Su Dennett with the Ashram’s catering crew. Most of the food for the course will come from the Ashram’s extensive permaculture gardens. With plenty of love and care, Su will make sure that what you eat will be delicious, and at the same time, meet permaculture standards. During the course, in other words, you will live a “permaculture life”.
  • Within close proximity to Melbourne, Castlemaine and Ballarat, the Ashram is centrally located, though the overwhelming feeling when you’re there is of being in a very special relaxing environment, another world.
  • You will work on a design project of your choice during the course, guided by experienced tutors, you will experience the fundamentals of permaculture to design the world you want.

The list can go on, but the available places are limited to ensure the quality. Take a positive step, and be early. For booking and more details, see the Event page.

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local happiness, global happiness

An enormous event is coming up next weekend. The Local Lives, Global Matters conference is gearing up to a great conference with the range of local and international speakers.

Over three days, at Castlemaine, the conference examines and discusses the way to get happier.

The solution seems local.  Communities all around the world are already doing it. The conference is planning to builds on what is already happening by fostering thriving, local and regional economies and societies, and accelerating the transition to a world without fossil fuels and growth addictions.

39e4213c-7373-4180-b0fe-93c5e9e651c0It is not your usual ‘conference’ though, the program is full of plenaries, workshops, story-telling, arts and music, as well as site visits showcasing local initiatives. Themes include meaningful livelihoods, reducing scale, reclaiming democracy, local interdependence and the strengthening of spiritual values. Speakers to appear include David Holmgren (one of the keynote speakers at the town hall on the first day), Helena Norberg-Hodge, Manish Jain (India), Camila Moreno (Brazil), Rob Hopkins (UK), Raphael Souchier (France), Samuel Alexander, Susan Murphy, Dave Rastovich and Lauren Hill Australia).
In fact, David will be there over three days.

On Friday David will deliver a keynote speech (3.40pm) at the town hall.

On Sat, he will take part in a panel discussion in Manish Jain’s plenary session on “Social and ecological justice” (10am) along with Camilla Moreno who will then give a session on “Reclaiming democracy”.

Then on Sunday, he will be a part of the panel with Ellen Madigan, Latarnie McDonald, Michelle and Chris McColl, Rob Kirby, and Helena Norberg-Hodge to disucss the problem of the centralised food  supply system.  For his final appearance, on Sunday at the town hall David will  be a part of the closing plenary session with Jacques Boulet and Norberg Hodge to sum up the weekend.

It is a choc a block weekend already, but there is another good one on Saturday afternoon, pop over to the Buckley room at St Mary’s Church at 4.15pm. Su Dennett and Maureen Corbett from Hepburn Relocalisation Network will give a workshop called “Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained” to follow up Urban Food Collective/Kym Blechynden (Feed the Future).

More here.

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the war on Monsanto

The seeds of life are not what they once were
Mother Nature and God don’t own them anymore

So belts out the veteran singer songwriter Neil Young with Promise of the Real on their title track from his latest album, The Monsanto years. What is the old protest rocker raging about? Monsanto and the war on weeds.

What are the weeds? According to the National Invasive Species Council of the USA weeds are “an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” Spearheaded by good intentioned nativists, the war is declared all over the world, on weeds. But are we as qualified as mother nature or god to decide what plants should grow, while others are declared noxious and exterminated?

Assuming that we have a moral authority to pick and choose the arrangement of nature, can we the humans really ‘eradicate’ the invasive aliens? What with? Gallons of glyphosate? Is killing the plants with glyphosate more harmful than  any harm ‘weeds’ do to us? And who makes glyphosate? According to the article Andrew Cockburn wrote for Harper’s magazine, “last year, the federal government (of the US) spent more than $2 billion to fight the alien invasion, up to half of which was budgeted for glyphosate and other poisons.”

shop_beyond_the_war_800sIntriguing stuff. All these questions were recently discussed on Australia’s ABC radio’s Late Night Live program. Taking part in discussion was Andrew Cockburn and David Holmgren.

Environmentalists used to fight against chain saws, bulldozers and poisons. Now they’re fighting ‘invasive’ species of plants and animals – with the help of chain saws, bulldozers and poisons. Who benefits? Mainly the company that was once their sworn enemy – Monsanto.

You can hear the program on ABC‘s website. Cockburn’s poignant piece on Harper’s magazine.

Holmgren’s articles and other writings on weeds are found here, especially recommended for reading are foreword to Beyond the WAR on invasive species by Tao Orion and Weeds or wild nature.

Neil Young also has made a mini doco on the story of Michael White vs Monsanto, Seeding Fear.

 

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IPCUK opening addresses

David Holmgren and Jonathon Porritt addressed the opening session of the International Permaculture Conference [IPCUK] in London on Tues [8 September 2015].

The following notes were taken by Ian Lillington, who coincidentally worked under Porritt at Friends of the Earth in London in 1990.

Co-originator Holmgren talked about the ‘waves’ of permaculture’s growth – he reckons we are in the middle of the fourth wave; and former Friends of the Earth chief, Porritt, acknowledged that permaculture’s principles were an influence on both his thinking and his spirit, as he advocates for a mindset that is not dominated by greed and over-consumption.

Permaculturists from at least 78 nations were in the unique structure called ‘The Light’ in central London for two days, representing the 135+ countries globally where permaculture is happening.

David’s voice and ‘big-picture thinking’ is familiar to most of us, but it was news to hear Porritt focus on food security and setting limits to population [as well as consumption]. Porritt said that conventional statements about ‘doubling the food we produce by x’ makes no sense unless we address food waste. Around 30-45% of food at the farm does not turn up on the plate, and more is wasted once it is scraped off the plate uneaten. And also to address meat consumption – much demand for new agricultural land is geared to using the land as feed for meat production [eg soy in Latin America].

So, as with energy problems, the answer is to reduce the need for more, not to obsessively produce more.

There needs to be sensible conversation about soil, nutrients, water, etc as part of the debate about food security and also  waste and the meat obsession must not be ignored.

Porritt has been central to the Organic Food movement and has been part of GM debates. Looking back, he realizes that debate hardly touched on the relationship between humans and the earth – especially the reciprocities involved. In contrast, the heartland of p’c is different. It’s a set of design principles underpinnning the way humans produce our food.

P’c and the like allow us to be part of the intellectual and spiritual process that is going on – Porritt places a strong emphasis on the spiritual through which he has worked and learned to stop his deep apocalyptic fear, and come back to the story of hope.  It is not just doable, it is being done; now – and can and will be done more.

But future food will come with new challenges. We think all good food should come from a beautiful relationship between land and food, but to reduce pressure on limited land, without massive animal cruelty, we need to use science. There are exploding areas of work, eg – will there be artificial meat? Probably it will be a major part of protein intake of the future world.  And protein from algae – also big growth area, eg Brazil, GM modified algae to produce alternative to palm oil.

We will get new dilemmas coming at us all the time.

So, conferences like this are very important to make us dig deeper and draw on the wealth of resources that are available to us and connect to web-based stuff like www.foodtank.com – whose analysis of the world of permaculture reported more than a million people certified in p’c of some sort and 4,000 enduring p’c projects or centres in around 140m countries. Also recommended ‘Living with the Land ‘ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTv3M-gu05k

In summary, Porritt talks of travelling the world and advocating for sane sustainability. He has seen two types of excellence – 1 – he calls Enclaves – refuges – places where people withdrawal from the horror of the modern age. Sometimes we need to retreat to an enclave and p’c has played an important part in creating some of these. And 2 – Different but connected – Outposts – people on the front line – engaged in places of difficulty and danger – grappling with daily issues of food insecurity. Outposts are made of people joining with local communities and addressing social justice as well as food production.

Porritt says it’s an exciting world – he sees a scene of creative chaos – and we have a big role to play through the p’c movement.

In the mix of action and dreaming, there is a balance and the permaculture movement provides some of that opportunity to find the right place to be to act for a better world.

 

 

 

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Open day at Birrith

pathStsBirrith Birrith, a mature yet still evolving permaculture property in the permaculture neighbourhood of Hepburn has hosted two well attended open days and is hosting the third on November 8th.

This property was developed principally by Maureen Corbett, one of the original Solar Sisters, and the pillar of the Holmgren Design office. Maureen’s property is now for sale. The local permaculture community hope that the property is taken up by like minded sustainability conscious permaculture enthusiasts. If you are looking for a mature permaculture property, look no further. Come around to explore the vision of sustainable, home-based, healthy, happy living.

precinct mapIt will be a day to browse and think about a bright future, and discuss cooperative living arrangements with each other and Ian Lillington who has exceptional knowledge and experience in this area. The property will be open from 1.30pm to 4pm. We will tour the property with Ian and/or Maureen and at 3.00pm there will be an afternoon tea, during which you are encouraged to ask questions and discuss options for living in community. If you are keen to join an eco-village but don’t know others there is the opportunity to meet them on this day and get it happening straight away.

No need to rush, relax in the garden and envisage a possible permaculture future.

For a private inspection or more information contact

Maureen Corbett  mcorbett8888@gmail.com03-534825920447196948

Please add this to any permaculture networks you are part of, to help get the word out.

 

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Bee informed

Issue-4-coverLRThe brand new issue of Australia’s only printed Permaculture journal Pip magazine is out. Pip #4 is packed with articles on soil, perennials, the art of free travel, a permaculture diet, sharing permaculture with your children, earth bag building and more.

Its feature is, as you may have already guessed, bees. Humble bees. What is their plight, and can we do something to save them? The best backyard beehives? What about native bees? You will bee informed! As its new regular special feature, the magazine comes with the most comprehensive and updated directory to permaculture and related courses happening all around the country, and a new real estate section for those looking for permaculture property.

Our other favourite feature story in this issue is “Artist as family”. In this piece, Patrick Jones and Meg Ulman explain how twelve permaculture principles were applied while they went cycling with the family, all the way up the east coast to the top of the continent from their home in Daylesford. We are eagerly waiting to read their forthcoming book The art of free travel.

Product of a dedicated team of enthusiasts, spearheaded by the publishing editor, Robyn Rosenfeldt, Pip magazine was launched early last year. This new magazine has found its niche in a crowded sustainability (from gardening, farming, owner-building, energy, architecture) magazine market. It stands out because it has permaculture principles firmly set in spine, while its fellow shelf dwellers only hover around blindly. Its articles are informative and practical, and they are attractively laid out and designed in print format. Itself, an embodiment and expression of permaculture.

Previous posts about Pip:

Pip Ahoy

Pip #2

Pip #3

As for the plight of the bees, see Mitra film’s doco  Honeybee blues

 

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12th International Permaculture Conference

Design the world we want, is the theme of the 12th International Permaculture Conference due to take place in London on September 8 and 9.  Among the luminaries of permaculture, David Holmgren, co-originator of the Permaculture concept, will deliver a 10 min message from 9.50am at the very start of the conference on Sept 8th, under the title of “Permaculture and Energy Descent” reflecting on the birth and growth of permaculture in a wide context.

Waves of adoption and spread of permaculture over the last 40 years are strongly correlated with large scale geopolitical and economic cycles and events. This history suggests the future form of permaculture will be shaped more by these forces than the desires or plans of individuals or organisations. If the inevitable transition to a renewable energy future follows the energy ascent trajectories of the fossil fuelled transitions of the last 250 years, permaculture is likely to remain an ethical or lifestyle choice of a minority in a conflicted but materially abundant world. If, on the other hand, the renewable future, is to one of energy descent as I have described, then permaculture, in principle, if not in name will become normalised adaptive human behaviour for rediscovering our place in nature. We all may have strong opinions, hopes, and fears about possible futures and how to shape them through permaculture, but the necessary transformation is as much an inner process, as it is external. Seeing energy descent as an opportunity rather than a problem might just be the largest and most  significant contribution of permaculture thinking to a prosperous way down for humanity.

 

His speech as well as the others will be streamed live, the details are here.

Later on, during the convergence at Gilwell Park, Essex, David will conduct give an address via internet, “Controversial and Convoluted Issues of Permaculture Theory and Practice”. This is scheduled for Sept 11th from 10am to 11am, see the timetable.

As the permaculture movement grows in size and strength it is important that robust debate and hard won experience informs the on going evolution of theory and the allocation of resources to strategies that work. A wide range of claims by permaculture activists and literature  remain contested outside and within the movement. A series of issues generate heat and shape peoples attitudes about permaculture. Some examples include the productivity of forest gardens in the temperate zones, the utility of swales or keyline in diverse landscapes, the adverse impacts or benefits of naturalised plants, the role of spirituality in permaculture, the utility of top down vs bottom up change, the faith or skepticism about technological solutions to resource constraints, the limits to global carrying capacity, the utility or otherwise of green capitalism, the place of political activism in permaculture and even, the curriculum for PDCs.

As a contribution to healthy debate and evolution of thinking within the movement, David Holmgren frames these debates in the context of energy descent futures, and for the majority of the time will give extended answers to questions about his take on issues raised by participants.

An extended Q & A  session with David will follow his address.

While David will be making himself seen and heard via internet, our brother in arms, Charlie Mgee and his Formidable Vegetable Sound System, who have just released a new remix album Radish Beets, will be there in person. He will sing tunes on various occasions, and run a workshop on how to propagate the permaculture narrative, “Sing the change you want to see“.

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Beyond the WAR on invasive species

5976Beyond the WAR on invasive species: A Permaculture Approach to Ecosystem Restoration is a new book by Tao Orion published by Chelsea Green.

Beyond the WAR on Invasive Species offers a much-needed alternative perspective on invasive species and the best practices for their management based on a holistic, permaculture-inspired framework. Utilizing the latest research and thinking on the changing nature of ecological systems, Beyond the WAR on Invasive Species closely examines the factors that are largely missing from the common conceptions of invasive species, including how the colliding effects of climate change, habitat destruction, and changes in land use and management contribute to their proliferation.

The choices we make on a daily basis—the ways we procure food, shelter, water, medicine, and transportation—are the major drivers of contemporary changes in ecosystem structure and function; therefore, deep and long-lasting ecological restoration outcomes will come not just from eliminating invasive species, but through conscientious redesign of these production systems.

 

Here’s what David Holmgren reckons how this war began and now entrenches us, deep in the environmental conscience.

This new science of “Invasion ecology” informed the education of a cadre of natural resource management professionals, supported by taxpayer funds. These resources mobilised armies of volunteers in aʻwar on weedsʼ. But labour and even machine intensive methods of weed control were soon sidelined in favour of herbicides that environmentalists and ecologists accepted as a necessary evil in the vain hope of winning the war against an endless array of newly naturalizing species.
For the chemical corporations this new and rapidly expanding market began to rival the use of herbicides by farmers, with almost unlimited growth potential, so long as the taxpayer remained convinced that the war on weeds constituted looking after the environment. In Australia the visionary grassroots Landcare movement, started by farmers in the early 1980s, was reduced to being the vehicle for implementing this war on weeds.

Read in full, David Holmgren’s foreword to the book, here(PDF).

 

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Bushfire resilient landscapes

This is a video record of  David Holmgren presentation on bushfire resilient landscapes buildings homes and communities in a forum held in April 2015 in Hewett. The forum was initiated by Transition Gawler (TG) to support and educate residents on fire prevention and mitigation through a new set of design principles.

Time: 7pm Friday 24 April 2015
Place: Hewett Community Centre, 24 Kingfisher Dv, Hewett (near Gawler)

The other three parts of the forum are available below.
Part 1 – Introduction to Forum/Transition Gawler
vimeo.com/esmedia/fire1

Part 2 – Helen Hennessy – CFS – overview of Sampson Flat Fire
vimeo.com/esmedia/fire2

Part 3 – Tony Fox – Natural Resources AMLR Gawler Office – Sampson Flat Fire Recovery
vimeo.com/esmedia/fire3

 

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On the subject, you may be interested in the following case studies David Holmgren has done.

The flywire house: a case study in design against bushfire

Melliodora: a case study in cool climate permaculture

or come and see for yourself an example of bushfire resilient landscape by taking part in the whole day tour at Melliodora.

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Your Town, Your Food

Too cold to go out in the garden? Winter is a good time to prepare and plan for the seasons to come. It’s future planning time. It is also a good time to watch a good film. Well, if that is your cup of tea and if you are in the Goulburn Valley area, and interested in creating healthier communities, livelihoods and fun founded on initiatives that are sustainable and support local producers then the second Tatura film festival is the one for you. It will be held on Saturday August 29.

Organised by Transition Tatura, the 397th Transition town in the world according to the official register, the festival will focus on food. Where do you get your food from and how does it get to you? What’s so good about local food, looking at production, distribution, consumption and composting? What is the real cost of what we eat, and who dictates what one eats? You or a big supermarket, or agrobusiness corporation? These are just some of the topics that will be covered on the day.

David Holmgren will be the keynote speaker and he will introduce the film Design for Life (Australia, 68mins) while Su Dennett from Hepburn Relocalisation Network will show a 2009 film from USA, Homegrown revolution. Following the films, they will discuss some of the points raised in the films, and take part in a community conversation on localisation, energy reduction and resilient community building.

If you are in the area, why don’t you come around and spend a day watching thought provoking films, take part in the discussion, and join in planning for the future.

See more details at Events.
TaturaFilm_Poster_FINAL copy

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