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Holmgren visits Mullumbimby

In June David  and Su Dennett will visit northern NSW at the invitation of local permaculture enthusiasts. Three days of action packed programs are presented and coordinated by Free Farm, set up and maintained by Cyrano and Bianca. Cyrano is an accomplished permaculture educator and designer, and Bianca a radical homemaker, and we know this, because they lived at Melliodora for a time.

March 2006 Cyrano with giant raddishCyrano says “as David Holmgren uses his carbon footprint selectively these days, we are very fortunate to have him visiting us in Mullumbimby for three unique events”.

After Bianca and Cyrano left Melliodora, they set up Free Farm on Left bank Road out of Mullumbimby applying permaculture and regenerative agriculture principles in a way that returns health to the land while providing the community with organic produce and educational programs . David and Su’s visit there is a part of Free Farm’s ongoing commitment to the development of a sustainable local community. If you are living in Byron or the Northern Rivers regions or thereabouts, do join David and Su on the second weekend of June.

The first two days are about retrofitting suburbia. David will bring his popular Aussie Street talk,  and reveal what the great Aussie dreams are made of, how vulnerable they are, and ideas for retrofitting that we can apply . The public talk will be on Friday June 12 at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall from 7-10pm.

Aussie Street: Transforming the Australian dream – Public Talk

Mullumbimby Civic Hall, Friday June 12, 7-10pm

Continuing on the subject of retrofitting the ‘burbs, on the following day, David and Su will be conducting a hands-on workshop, to help find out what can be done in Mullumbimby (and wider region) in particular.

Retrofitting Mullumbimby – Workshop

Mullumbimby Community Gardens, Saturday June 13, 9am-1pm

(Following the workshop, there will be a free gathering “Sustain Mullum” to celebrate the first anniversary of the Transition Mullumbimby. This will be a great place for locals, wanting to create a sustainable future, to connect, collect ideas and direct their energies towards collaborative projects for the Byron Shire community.)

And then on Sunday, David will be hosting an open consultancy, a unique opportunity for participants to gather a deeper understanding of design principles and learn from his wealth of knowledge.

Principles in action – Open Consultancy at Free Farm, Sunday, June 14, 1-5pm

Both David and Su are looking forward to seeing all the good people in the area.



Northern sojourn (by rail)

David Holmgren will make one last sojourn north in June before he takes a well deserved sabbatical from teaching courses and public lectures, taking part in panel discussions and conducting workshops. He will spend the coming seasons finishing several of his writing projects.

coverAlong with Su Dennett, he will take part in the Planting weekend in Woodford in QLD. But before getting there, they will be stopping over briefly in Sydney, and he will be teaching a two day Advanced Permaculture Principles Course in Sydney.

After the Planting, they will be travelling on to Mullumbimby in northern NSW for three days of a public talk and workshops before heading home. The details of all these engagements are listed in the Events.


Photo courtesy of Sydney for everyone,

A note on the often forgotten yet vitally important side. How will they get around? You won’t catch them  in the queue at airport check-ins for sure. You won’t see them operating the bowser at the servos. Could that be possible? It seems so. Long time advocates of less flights and drivings the better, they will be travelling by rail.  Interstate trips in Australia without flying or driving?  Too slow? Remember permie principle number nine? They will no doubt enjoy (ie observe and analyse the scenes outside the window during the days up and down the east coast. They will be spending a few nights in style, on the sleeper trains as well.


Fair, real and local food

About one hundred people gathered on the steps of the Victorian parliament house on 19 Feb 2015 to rally for fair, real and local food. Organised by Regrarians, the rally attendants heard from Lisa Heenan (Regrarians), Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia), Cyndi O’Meara (Changing Habits), Joel Salatin (Polyface Farms), Tammi Jonas (Jonai Farms), Reg Matthews (Miranda Dale dairy), Lorraine Pratley (Australian Raw Milk Movement) as well as David Holmgren and Su Dennett from Melliodora.

For those people who  missed the great day of action in Melbourne, here’s a video recording of the whole rally.


David Holmgren edit


Su Dennett edit



Feb is sustainability month

February is a great time to be in Melbourne. The weather is warm and the whole city is abuzz with “sustainability” events. Albeit only for a month, it is still warming to see a whole lot of people embracing the concept of sustainability.

greatdebatebannerNaturally the man who once chose the subtitle of his book to read “principles and pathways beyond sustainability” is in demand at such a time. As we reported here earlier David Holmgren is taking the stage with some of the sharpest thinkers and keen doers to discuss whether to collapse or not to on Feb 13. More about the great debate here.

In the following week on Feb 19, he and Su Dennett from Melliodora go to Melbourne to take part in “#EatBuyGrow Rally + Event” organised by Regrarians. Both David and Su will be addressing the rally during the day and the evening event alongside Joel Salatin (‘World’s Most Innovative Farmer’ ), Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia), Cyndi O’Meara (Changing habits), Belinda Hagan (2013 Victorian Farmer of the Year), Tammi Jonas (Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance President) and many many others.

The day is aims to raise awareness of what producers are going through due to irrational government regulations which seem to want to sever ties with urban consumers. This is the rally bit, but the day is also for celebration of the regenerative food system of producers, chefs and consumers all maintaining vibrant connection with each other. So, why don’t you join us?

Then on Feb 28th, at the invitation of one of the residents, none other than Greg Foyster, David is going to present “Retrofitting the suburbs” at Murundaka Cohousing Communityhttps_proxy. It is a whole day event, Solar Saturday Lounge Party, to raise funds to install solar panels on the community building. David will take part along with Melliodora’s Su Dennett in the “Hypotheticals” panel discussion chaired by Rod Quantock in the afternoon. Why don’t you come down for a whole great fun filled day at Heidelberg Heights?




To collapse or not to collapse

Every year in the month of February, Melbourne hosts the Sustainable Living Festival. The 16th annual festival offers a large choice of events of interest. We highly recommend you attend if you are in the zone. Find out more about the festival on its website.

Since its inception four years ago, the Great Debate has quickly become one of the most popular events of the month long festival. In the debate an invited panel of prominent thinkers and leaders swap their opinions on various aspects of sustainability. In 2011, in an inaugural debate, David Suzuki, Ian Lowe, Christine Milne, Clive Hamilton and others debated whether “environmentalism is falling”. Last year, the panel including Bob Brown, Jon Dee, Fiona Sharkie and David Spratt, discussed whether “fear is stronger than optimism in creating rapid social change”.

This year’s debate promises to be a cracker as well. The panel including Nicole Foss, George Marshall, George Monbiot and the author of  ‘Crash on Demand‘ the essay that inspired this year’s debate topic, David Holmgren, will exchange their views whether or not to collapse. A Great Debate not to be missed.

The Crash on Demand is available here, and to see some of the discussions it has caused so far, see here.


Permaculture Forestry Course

AppleMark  David Holmgren viewing Willow removal in Spring Creek  AppleMark

Permaculture Forestry Course – presented by Holmgren Design and Regrarians

(This course is now fully booked.)

The complementary knowledge and skill sets of permaculture co-originator David Holmgren and Regrarians whole farm planner Darren Doherty come together for four days of presentations, discussions, site tours and practical activities in April 2015.

For owners of small areas of forest, this course will show the low cost ways to reduce fire hazard, improve amenity, obtain a yield and improve future timber and environmental values.

For farmers wanting to better integrate and manage timber trees within their farm landscape, this course will provide an overview of tree growing systems, species, management techniques and value added processing options that will diversify and strength the farm economy.

For environmental activists wanting to deepen their knowledge of sustainable forestry, bioenergy, catchment management and novel ecosystems to create a better world, this course offers an opportunity to learn from greenies with chainsaws.

For those already with training or experience in farm forestry, this is an opportunity to glean and share new ideas with two sustainable land use innovators from outside the bounds of the forestry profession who have made a significant contribution over decades to the resurgence of interest in farm forestry.

Using the concepts of permaculture, keyline, riparian rehydration, holistic management and ProSilva the course will provide a deep foundation for practical forestry in both natural and planted timber forests that provide environmental services and secondary yields of fuel, fodder, nectar and food.

Holmgren’s home property of Melliodora and the adjacent Spring Creek Community Forest combined with a side trip to Holmgren’s box forest property adjacent the Fryers Forest ecovillage near Castlemaine will provide a range of examples relevant to urban, riparian and farm forestry in mid and high rainfall temperate Australia.


The course venue at Hepburn Springs primary school adjacent Melliodora and Spring Creek Community, provides camp accommodation. The final night’s camping will be at “the Wild” adjacent Fryers Forest ecovillage near Fryerstown.

The course is fully catered with local, in season, organic and wild food at Melliodora and “the Wild”. David Holmgren’s partner Su Dennett, renowned local food advocate, will be catering and their son Oliver will be assisting with course logistics and forestry activities.

David or Darren will lead sessions but both will be present to contribute through the whole course.

If you are engaged in, or enthusiastic about, growing and managing trees and forests for timber and multiple values this course is for you.

See Events for more information.

Fryer's Forest poles  IMG_5808  IMGP9586


Aussie St at Rainbow

How come permaculture co-originator (an old codger) David Holmgren is using a surfing metaphor to talk about suburbia at the Rainbow Serpent festival, in the dry inland, to mostly young people who don’t own a house and have most likely recently escaped suburbia to find their way in the world?
David traces the history of suburbia from the 1950’s through to the present and on into a challenging future that is already unfolding using an entertaining and edgy story about his imaginary but amazingly true-to-life Aussie Street.

While many young people are now questioning the idea of debt to become home owners, few can see a pathway forward that will give them some capacity to create the world they do want.
David shows how getting out of debt, downsizing and rebooting our dormant household and community non-monetary economies are the best hedges that ordinary citizens can make.

The idea that these household and community economies could achieve unprecedented growth rates if the monetary economy takes a serious dive, is a good news story you won’t hear from mainstream media. The metaphor of surfing suggests a stronger role for positive risk taking behaviour change without the need for expensive changes to the built environment that few will be able to afford. The permaculture makeover and behaviour change in a retrofitted Aussie St allows the residents to not only survive but thrive through the “dumpers” of the property bubble collapse, climate chaos and geopolitical energy shocks that hit the lucky country in the Second Great Depression of the 2020’s .

An endearing, amusing and gutsy story of hope for in-situ adaptation by the majority of Australians living in our towns and suburbs.

And if you think it is just a dream, check out some of the examples of Aussie Street style retrofitting of the suburb.

Hulbert Street in Fremantle, WA is a great example. Here, a driving force behind neighbourhood remaking, Shani Graham, talks about her experience in a Tedx talkfest in Perth. A permaculture activist in the Blue Mountains in NSW, Paula Ajuria informed us late last year that a neighbourhood retrofit is underway. We are sure there are many other Aussie Streets out there, and hopefully after Rainbow, there will be many more.

Come and see how the real Aussie dreams are made at Rainbow.


Convergence in Penguin

Penguin_BigPenguinWhy do you think you should go to Penguin, Tasmania in March next year? To see its famed “big penguin”, a three metre ferro cement construction built some forty years ago when the town celebrated it’s centenary? Nah, the reason you should be there is of similar vintage, but not quite.

The reason all permaculture folk in Australasia (Australia and Aotearoa, that is) should get down in early March to Penguin is because we are having the Twelfth Australasian Permaculture Convergence (APC12) there. APC12 will mark thirty years since the first one and will be a combined event to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the first Organic Festival held in Tomahawk in NE Tasmania.

David Holmgren will be there and will share the honour of keynote speaking along with Nicole Foss and Stuart Hill. As a good permaculture agent provocateur, he urges all participants to follow his lead to get down there in a sensible manner. If you have not done so, please read “Why I haven’t been flying (much)” where he argues various reasons why flying should be the last resort. And yes, there are alternatives to flying to get down to Penguin. For example, he will catch a bus from home, train to Melbourne, then ferry to Devonport, then bus to Penguin, because it is the most sensible way to travel that distance. He challenges all the participants to the APC12, if he can do it, why not you? It is not that difficult really, but you need imagination, organising skills, and plenty of time and capacity to enjoy spending extra time observing the world around you along the journey.

APC12 being an Australasian event, we hope that some from Aotearoa can join in the celebration. If you are you may consider travelling on a freighter ship to Australia, perhaps. It’s not cheap, may not be suitable to your schedule, may take a lot more organising but it can be done. Contact Hamish Jamieson at Freighter Travel in Napier and see what he can come up with. One of the Melliodora residents took a freighter to Kiwiland some years ago, thanks to Hamish, and still fondly remembers it.


Early bird is flying away

Just a friendly reminder, that the early bird deal will soon come to an end for the Holmgren designed PDC at the Rockly Ashram. If you are thinking about making a “life-changing, horizon expanding” experience, as described by a participant last year, make sure you save $200 by paying full fee by Dec 12 by registering here.

w42TgAMdR_D28PUc2o-uEPeoRINsCS2q1NHWEtvXua8This PDC course is designed along the twelve principles Holmgren devised and detailed in Permaculture: principles and pathways beyond sustainability.  It is a fully catered (by none other than Su Dennett and the Ashram cooks) residential course, with all access to the Yoga program at the Ashram. Teachers include some of the best permaculture tutors including permaculture co-founder David Holmgren himself, Ian Lillington, Beck Lowe, Angela Enbom, Patrick Arnts and Simon Reid.

The caring nature of all the presenters shone through and having the opportunity to eat with and socialize with presenters and the Ashram people has been just amazing.

Be the one to experience this (and save a couple of hundred bucks).


Future Scenarios in Canberra

What is going on in the world? What can we do about it, you wonder? Climate change, peak energy, and global finance seem to be the biggest worries of many people. Naturally so, because according to David Holmgren, they are the key elements deciding our world, and our future.

How are these factors behaving now, and how are they likely to behave in future and, more importantly,  how will they influence each other? What’s the future hold for us? This exploration of our future is very fittingly to be held in Canberra, Australia’s capital.

mugshotHolmgren Design, in association with Permaculture eXchange, SEE-Change ACT, SCPA South East Producers, Urban Agriculture Australia, Canberra City Farm, The Goulburn Group, Slow Food Canberra and FuturePLANS is pleased to announce this extensive presentation and Q and A evening to discuss such profound matters with David Holmgren will be held in Canberra on December 9.

David will outline first where we are at, and our likely future. Then he will offer a permaculture solution. He will offer direct practical strategies in his presentation to help households and communities survive, thrive and contribute to a better world, drawing on 30 years of permaculture living, teaching, designing and building agricultural food production systems for sustainable living.

Please do not miss this limited opportunity (David rarely travels even interstate). Be part of the session to figure out what is on offer and what we can do about it. Be part of the solutions thinking.

David Holmgren Canberra copy