Archive | News

The 2018 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the 2018 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize. The specifics are as follows:

Major prize: AUD$1000

All entries must be received by 11.59 pm EST, Friday July 20 2018.
The shortlist and winner will be announced during the Daylesford Words in Winter festival, August 17 – 26, 2018.
The judges for the 2018 competition are Jessica Wilkinson and Stuart Cooke.

Entry terms and conditions

1. Entrants must be citizens of Australia or New Zealand or have permanent resident status in Australia or New Zealand.
2. Poems must be unpublished (including online) and not under consideration by other publishers.
3. Poems that have won or are under consideration in other competitions are not eligible.
4. Poems must have an environmental theme.
5. All poems must be written in English.
6. The winning poems will be published on www.holmgren.com.au
7. An entry fee of $10 will be charged and is payable via bank transfer, PayPal, cash or cheque. A receipt will be sent as confirmation once the money has been received.
8. The name of the poet must not appear on the manuscript (including the header or footer) since all poems will be considered anonymously.
9. Poems must be no more than 80 lines.
10. Multiple entries are permitted, though a $10 fee applies to each poem.
11. Please ensure you are satisfied with your poem before submitting. Poems that are withdrawn and subsequently resubmitted will incur a second fee.
12. The competition closes 11.59 pm EST, Friday July 20, 2018.
13. Selection will be made by the judges. The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.


About the judges

Jessica Wilkinson is the founding editor of Rabbit: a journal for nonfiction poetry. She has published two poetic biographies, marionette: a biography of miss marion davies (Vagabond 2012) and Suite for Percy Grainger (Vagabond 2014). She is currently writing up a third, on choreographer George Balanchine. She co-edited with Bonny Cassidy the Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry (Hunter Publishers, 2016). She is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at RMIT University, Melbourne.

Stuart Cooke is a poet, critic and translator who lives on the Gold Coast, where he lectures in creative writing and literary studies at Griffith University. His books include the poetry collections Opera (2016) and Edge Music (2011), a critical work, Speaking the Earth’s Languages: a theory for Australian-Chilean postcolonial poetics (2013), and a translation of an Aboriginal song cycle from the West Kimberley, George Dyuŋgayan’s Bulu Line (2014). He is the winner of the Gwen Harwood, Dorothy Porter and New Shoots Poetry Prizes, and has held residential fellowships at Omi International Arts Centre (USA), Hawthornden Castle (UK) and the Centre for Art and Nature at Farrera (Spain), among others.


About Venievenie

In her late 50’s Venie Holmgren began to write poetry and her first published anthology, The Sun Collection for the Planet in 1989, became a poetry ‘best seller’. At the same time, she applied her environmental activist skills and commitment to the campaign to save native forests near her home on the far south coast of NSW, where she was arrested twice for obstructing log trucks. After 16 years of solo self-reliant living she moved to the local town of Pambula where she penned her travel memoir, several more books of poetry and travelled widely as a performance poet. In 2010 Venie moved to Hepburn where she wrote her last poetry collection, The Tea-house Poems. In January 2016, Venie ‘caught the bus’ at the age of 93 .

You can read more of Venie’s life here:
www.theguardian.com/books/australia-books-blog/2015/mar/25/in-praise-of-venie-holmgren-at-92-still-an-activist-adventurer-and-a-poet


3

Charles Massy Canberra launch speech

Photo: Oliver Holmgren

Charles Massy (Call of the Reed Warbler) launched RetroSuburbia in Canberra last week at the 2018 ACT Permaculture Festival. Here is his wonderfully received launch speech:

It is both a pleasure & an honour to help launch David Holmgren’s new book here in Canberra: a book by a person I regard as one of the deepest thinkers in the fields of regenerative agriculture, the environment and future pathways for society a nd urban Australia.And I know that this book also comprises a communal effort – not just representing a lifetime of David’s work and thinking but also of Su’s & Oliver’s and that of trusted friends, and indeed an entire national and global Permaculture community. In addition, a book like this comprises a team effort – and key players I know will be mentioned by David.

The context here is that this book heralds the next important phase of Permaculture thinking: from a movement that became the first major global export from Australia of a new modern approach to both regenerative agriculture and urban living and design.

* * *

RetroSuburbia I believe is one of the most important and practical books to emerge in decades in this field – for it epitomises David Holmgren’s personal life and precept: ‘to think global but act local.’ The book also captures the design ethos, as expressed by the wonderful ecological literature advocate David Orr in his book ‘The Nature of Design’: that ‘Ecological design is the careful meshing of human purposes with the larger patterns and flows of the natural world, and the study of these patterns & flows to inform human nature.’

* * *

So, what is the context in which we live, act and launch this book? Well, it has to be that we have undoubtedly moved into the Anthropocene epoch, where humanity has grossly disturbed the inter-related, self-organizing set of 8 Earth systems – of which climate disruption is but one (albeit a major one).
This disruption is manifested most immediately in accelerating land degradation, dysfunctional cities & suburbs characterised by less & less of the natural world and few places for children to experience nature and community; of increasingly dysfunctional societies; of the highly probable likelihood of the crazy Australian property bubble and debt-load bursting and thus of a major recession; of rising costs & pending shortages of not just energy but also healthy food & other basic needs; of worsening natural disasters; of social disconnection & isolation and loss of personal control; of deteriorating physical & mental health; and where, under the growth-fetish of an economic irrationalist, industrial system, we are delivered food that is bereft of diverse nutrients that we were co-evolved for – and food contaminated by elements destructive of our immune systems. And over all this hangs the inevitability of ‘Energy Descent’: what David, in the wake of his great influence Howard Odum, describes as ‘the erratic but on-going decline in the material & energy base available to support humanity.’

In other words, as David says on page 33 of RetroSuburbia, ‘The reality is that most people live in a private domain supported by public infrastructure managed by remote authorities that largely respond to dysfunctional aspirations & needs.’
So – that is the context – but here [holds book] is the paeon of hope: a deeply thought-through philosophy, but also with a sophisticated & interconnected plethora of solutions & practical examples & principles on how to turn around this dystopia: of how to once again regenerate Earth & meaningful, sustainable society & community.

* * *

Believe it or not, David, as a long-haired youth in the 1970s, was already thinking about these issues even then – growing up not just in a post-1960s counter-culture period – of rebellion against the Vietnam War and consumerism and greed – but also post Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ & post the travesty of the drowning of Lake Pedder. And he grew up in a counter-culture household in W.A., with parents as semi-outsiders – his mother from a fine Jewish tradition, and father Swedish – & a household committed to social justice & political activism & the experience of little things, like David being ridiculed at school for having home-made bread sandwiches that were filled with home grown, healthy food. David told me recently: ‘Yes, we were a bit counter-culture, but I was comfortable with, and proud of being a bit of an outsider – & of the questioning of orthodoxy of every kind.’ Sound familiar?

The rest we know as history: David shedding his skin & hitch-hiking around Australia as a youth; settling in Tassie to do an environmental design course but discovering cultural elements of self-sufficiency; renting with Bill & Philamena Mollison & the exciting exploration of ideas & future possibilities; David’s environmental design thesis becoming the basis of Permaculture One – which erupted onto the scene in 1978. I remember buying a copy with its interesting cover on its release (interesting covers being a common theme here) – & it strongly influenced my own attempts to try & develop at least part household self-sufficiency then on our farm. Permaculture One also joined similar books on my shelf at the time – books that I am sure influenced David: such as EF Shumacher’s ‘Small is Beautiful’; the Meadows ‘Limits to Growth’; and other books by leading thinkers of the time like Kenneth Boulding, Barry Commoner & Paul Ehrlich.
After ‘Permaculture One’ David of course left it to Bill Mollison to promulgate the Permaculture ideas globally, while he sailed his own self-development course – gaining practical skills, hunting, gardening, reading, thinking, meeting the love of his life Su and forming a family. By 1985 they had purchased Melliodora, having formed Holmgren Design Services in 1983, and teaching intensively from 1993. That is, David by the 90s had returned once more to his Permaculture vision and passion. Moreover, in the meantime David, Su, Oliver & helpers were walking the talk at Melliodora – living by their precepts & principles.
The fruit of all this in 2002 was the important publication of ‘Permaculture: Pathways & Principles’- involving the articulation of 12 key Permaculture Design principles & Structures.

By this time the Permaculture movement (in the footsteps of one of its antecedants – Yeomans Keyline approach) had become the first major global export from Australia of a new modern approach to both regenerative agriculture and to urban living and design. This more public re-emergence, in my view, established David as one of the leading thinkers in regenerative agriculture and urban living – & not just in the global Permaculture movement, but increasingly involving how such design & practical living principles can be applied to urban communities.

* * *

And so, to this next major book – RETROSUBURBIA.

In my opinion this is a world-leading manifesto for the restructuring of modern, urbanized society – and in both the developed & developing world. Please let me explain why.
In my recent book on regenerative agriculture I talk about ecological literacy & the need to understand 5 key landscape functions – of which the 5th (& most important in many ways) is the Human/Social. David calls this the ‘Behavioural Field’- because, as he says, ‘we CAN change how we see & experience life for the better.’

RetroSuburbia is the vital missing link in this whole regenerative story – as suburbia is where the majority of people live. So what David is spelling out in this book is a major & desperately needed revolution – what I call in regenerative agriculture an ‘underground insurgency’.
Paul Hawken in his book ‘Blessed Unrest’ said this: ‘Healing the wounds of the earth & its people does not require saintliness or a political party, only gumption & persistence. It is not a liberal or conservative act; it is a sacred act.’
This book – a seemingly innocuous tome with a delightfully unique cover – is actually a revolutionary manifesto – because, as David says, it shows how we can undertake the re-ruralisation of suburbia; how to bring agrarian & social abundance back to suburbia. That is – RetroSuburbia gives us a philosophical & practical series of tool-kits on how to change our suburbs, country towns, cities & ourselves – to live, as Hawken says, as if it were a sacred act.

* * *

David Holmgren began his journey with design, & it is design that is the weft & warp of this book. From page 53 in the book David broaches the important context of work/life balance & its 4 quadrants – which opens-up the philosophical questions of ‘how’ & ‘why’. So it is through good design that we can have better built biological & behavioural fields – to integrate rather than segregate. One of the important influences in David’s thinking was Christopher Alexander – originator of the concept of ‘Pattern Language’. In ‘The Timeless Way of Building’ in 1979, Alexander wrote: ‘The fact is, a person is so far formed by his surroundings, that his state of harmony depends entirely on his harmony with his surroundings.’ And as David says on page 29: ‘I have framed the whole book in terms of patterns for resilient downshifting’- using ‘The Permaculture principle of Design from patterns to details.’ This of course is a systems overview also.

* * *

So – this book is like good wine – it has taken decades to build and then mature: derived from healthy earth, & dozens of subtle and not so subtle flavours, influences, nutrients & free radicals – and chock-full of wonderful case-studies & inspirational designs; of examples of housing, retrofitting buildings, gardens, social living etc.

In this ground-breaking wonderful book, the labour of David and others & their collated experience reveals the promise that, with vision & the courage to dare to be different – to take the road less travelled – that we can have suburbs, communities & lives that allow us, as David says, ‘to create the world we want by living it now.’

This undoubtedly is a major book for our times, and it gives me great pleasure to be involved in its launch here. And because, as David concludes in the last paragraph of the book: ‘The innate human capacity to Creatively use & respond to change suggests the working together necessary to create a prosperous way down is at least a plausible energy descent pathway. “And in any case” he concludes, “giving it our best shot promises a life well lived.”

This the Holmgren family have done, and they & the book are exemplars for the rest of us. Thank you.

1

The Melbourne Model

The Age recently published an article entitled, Melbourne’s liveability choice: soar like Manhattan or sprawl like LA

The article quoted Infrastructure Australia’s three scenarios for Melbourne in 2046.

The LA model:

More than one million extra people – or 40 per cent of projected population growth to 2046 – will live on the city’s edge in 2046, under a planning scenario that sees unfettered low-density development.

Melburnians will rely more heavily on cars to get to work, with only 3 per cent of jobs accessible within 30 minutes by trains, trams or buses.

The New York City model:

A compact, higher-density vision for Melbourne will concentrate jobs and housing within 15 kilometres of the city centre, and will drive up public transport use.

The London model:

A medium-density model that spreads the population growth more evenly and puts jobs closer to where people live.

Here is David Holmgren’s public response to Infrastructure Australia’s chief executive Philip Davies:

The Melbourne Model

For the last 50 years, the debate about suburban sprawl vs high rise has been repeated ad infinitum with very little questioning of the assumptions behind the debate. Adam Carey & Timna Jack’s article in The Age 22 Feb, 2018 is a current example of the restatement of these outdated options in the context of the supercharged apartment construction frenzy that is taking over inner Melbourne.

The article references Infrastructure Australia’s latest report including a third model for Melbourne’s future; medium density London instead of high density New York or sprawling traffic bound Los Angeles. This deft pitch assumes that we must put up more buildings to accommodate the projected 2.8 million extra people who will make Melbourne home by 2046.

The entrenched interests of Australia’s largest industry, property development and construction, myopia and lack of rigor in the academia and politics and a mostly disempowered public have combined to see the debate intensify but never consider any real alternatives, including my RetroSuburbia strategy which aims to create the Melbourne Model of urban renewal.

RetroSuburbia involves making full use and creatively repurposing what we have already built over the last 40 years, the longest running property bubble in human history, before we build and develop over more water and carbon absorbing land that we need to feed ourselves into the future. In this maddening frenzied rush, we condemn our children to live disconnected from nature that we depend on for our daily life and well being.

RetroSuburbia is based on the lived reality of a growing number of ordinary Australians who have been influenced by the permaculture concept, a vital emerging global movement, first taken root in the suburbs of Melbourne 40 years ago. The impact of permaculture, and UK spin off, The Transition Towns movement is at the progressive edge of communities building resilience in a climate changed world. Locally, Permablitz activism that continues to empower young people to hack their habitats for the better, has also spread around the world from Melbourne.

Those questioning the policies favouring population growth with alternative ideas continue to be ignored, or at best, overlooked. But even if we accept the projected population growth as inevitable, the current options to accommodate these numbers all involve constantly putting up more buildings without redressing the results of doing so for the last 50 years. Over that time the orthodoxy accepted by the majority of planners, academics and even environmentalists is that higher population density is the key to improved urban amenity, viable public transport, infrastructure efficiency (read water based sewerage), lower environmental impact and even resilience to climate change and other future stresses.

This orthodoxy is built on many flawed assumptions including;

  • Economic growth is an unquestioned good that will, in any case, continue into the future more or less perpetually.
  • The elimination of soil, plant and animal life in favour of more building is collateral damage that can be compensated for by token symbols of our ongoing metabolic and psycho-social dependence on nature.
  • The daily movement of the majority of residents beyond walking or even cycling distances is an essential element of urban life.
  • The just-in-time movement and on-demand availability of food and all the other essentials of life to this constantly moving population is necessary and sustainable into the future.
  • The provision of our needs within the household and community non-monetary economies is an unnecessary remnant of the past that can replaced by new forms of consumerism in the monetary economy.
  • That more residential construction ranging from high rise redevelopment to infilling the backyards of suburbia is an efficient and effective to achieve the higher population density in existing urban areas.

The Melbourne Model avoids these flawed assumptions, instead focusing on how we can turn the problem of suburbia in the solution of RetroSuburbia.

Apparently 30% of new apartments are speculation chips kept in mint condition rather than homes for anyone. There are roughly 8 million vacant beds in Australian homes. There are endless rooms, garages, sheds and other space full of stuff no one has time to use. The storage industry holding the stuff we can’t fit in our houses continues to grow.

Even the more widely accepted assumption that we need a major increase in public transport infrastructure echoed by the Infrastructure Australia report never considers the way information technology already allows RetroSuburban home based livelihoods and lifestyles to bypass the need to commute. The potential of garden and urban farming to more efficiently displace so much of the resource burning centralised food supply system is beginning to be articulated by advocates and activists but the 20th century land use planning paradigm that hold sway over our public policies assumes it is sustainable to feed mega cities with just-in-time logistics controlled by corporate monopolies.

In my essay Retrofitting the Suburbs published by the Simplicity Institute, I show how policies, affluence and other factors driving more construction in our residential streets lead to a decrease rather than an increase in population density. When we multiply the declining residents by the declining hours of occupancy, as all activity is sucked out of the home and community and into the monetary economy, we find that our cities are mostly crowded by cars carrying one person constantly rushing between buildings that are poorly used.

For the sake of corporate profits and government tax take, we are continually blindsided to commute each day to work, school, childcare, gym, cafe and mall while our homes lie vacant and unused.

So why should we even consider the creaking cities at the heart of empire as models for Melbourne when our own lineage of Permaculture, Transition Towns, Permablitz and RetroSuburbia are already influencing the progressive edge of urban and community renewal around the world, including New York, Los Angeles and London.

The Melbourne model would give us the potential to survive and thrive challenging futures without submitting to the sterile alternatives of the current urban development debate.

3

RetroSuburbia: out in the world

After four years in the making, RetroSuburbia is finally out there in the world. Weighing in at 1.8kg and 592 full colour pages, she is an absolute beauty, and the whole team here couldn’t be prouder. In fact, we are excited beyond words.

Here are some photos from Saturday’s book launch at the National Sustainable Living Festival at Birrarung Marr in Melbourne.

Thank you to Peter O’Mara for MCing the event, to Costa for launching it, to Formidable Vegetable Sound System for getting us up and dancing, and to Oliver Holmgren for these beautiful photographs:

From L-R Robyn Rosenfeld, Richard Telford, David Holmgren, Costa Georgiadis

An unmistakably beautiful Melbourne scene

Formidable Vegetable Sound System

Costa Georgiadis holding RetroSuburbia while wearing his retro shirt while Peter O’Mara looks on

“Here it is, folks!” says David Holmgren.

MC Peter O’Mara with David Holmgren

David Holmgren + Mariam Issa swap books

Charlie Mgee + Richard Telford

From L-R: Mariam Issa, Charlie Mgee, Mal Webb, Kylie Morrigan

From L-R: Costa Georgiadis, Su Dennett, Charlie Mgee, Mal Webb, Kylie Morrigan, David Holmgren



For those who missed it or want to re-live this momentous event in permie history, here is the full recording which is divided into 3 parts. Thanks to Greg Noy for the footage:

* * *

The day after the launch, David was busy again, this time on a panel entitled Transforming the Suburbs.

The speakers were:
David Holmgren – Permaculture co-originator
Costa Georgiadis – Gardening Australia, ABC TV
Dominique Hes – Melbourne University
Michael Ableman – Sole Food Street Farms, Canada
Kat Lavers – Permaculture practitioner
The event was MC’d by Nick Ritar from Milkwood Permaculture.

The expert panel creatively explored sustainable actions, key strategies and resilience-based concepts for future suburban responses to localised and global ecological challenges. The audience was provided expert analysis and thought-provoking ideas on how suburbia will be a vital place to survive and thrive in challenging futures. The discussion centred on ideas that positively contribute towards low-energy and carbon positive sustainable home and community living and how we can all make a shift towards creatively adapting to a more sustainable way of living.

The panel was recorded by ABC Big Ideas. You can listen here.

Photos by Oliver Holmgren.

From L-R: Nick Ritar, Dominique Hes, Costa Georgiadis, David Holmgren, Kat Lavers, Michael Ableman

From L-R: Dominique Hes, Costa Georgiadis, David Holmgren, Kat Lavers

In the Dome, Birrarung Mar, Melbourne

* * *

Don’t have your copy of the book yet? Head on over to www.retrosuburbia.com to order your copy today!

2

RetroSuburbia crowd support campaign

To offset the cost of printing David’s forthcoming book in Australia, we are excited to announce that we have just launched a crowd support campaign.

RetroSuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future will be self-published by David’s micro-publishing house, Melliodora Publishing, which has published David’s previous books plus a handful of other titles including the best selling The Art of Frugal Hedonism.

To print the book offshore would save $23,000, but no matter how enticing the monetary cost, David is completely committed to local printing, supporting sustainable forestry in Australia, and a truly viable paper chain. The paper stock, ink and the printing must be in accordance with the content.

There are a number of different support levels, as well as the option to pre-order the book to be launched by Costa Georgiadis on February 10 2018 at the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne.

Thank you for your support, and for sharing the link among your networks!

https://www.retrosuburbia.com/crowd-support/

2

2018 Advanced Permaculture Planning + Design Process

Have you completed a PDC but feel there is more you’d like to learn?
Are you interested in design principles and ethics but are not quite sure how to integrate the processes into your thinking, designing and decision making?

On this four-day residential course, tutors David Holmgren and Dan Palmer will take you through various approaches and methods that they implement in their own design processes to help you establish your own framework for designing and living. Here is the rundown of the April 2017 course:

2017 course participants + presenters

After the inaugural Advanced Permaculture Planning and Design Process course, Dan wrote a comprehensive overview of the 4-day residential, which is highly recommended reading.

Participants are encouraged to arrive on the night of April 2 and camp over, ready to begin the course at 9am on the 3rd. Dinner will be provided on the 2nd, and brekky on the 3rd, as well as all subsequent meals for the duration of the course.

The course is limited to 30 participants and bookings are essential. Once you have booked you will be sent more details.

More information + bookings here.

4

The 2017 Venie Prize Winners

Firstly, thank you to the 141 entrants in the 2017 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize. Each and every poem that was entered was a pleasure to read. A big thank you also goes to Fiona Hile + Ross Gillett for judging the Prize and for coming along to Sunday’s Words in Winter event where the winners + shortlist were announced.

Without further ado, we are thrilled to announce this year’s winning poems:

Co-winners
Michael Farrell, Melbourne, Vic: Hamlet in the Mind of a School Teacher
Mark Miller, Shoalhaven Heads, NSW: Journey, the South Coast

Highly Commended
Brian Purcell, Green Point, NSW: Painting Trees at Valla
Stuart Barnes, The Range, QLD: Black Swan Polyptych
Geraldine Burrowes, Melbourne, Vic: How We Get Through  Accidentally
Jeff Guess, Gawler, SA: Transgression of the Trees

Packing Room Prize (as chosen by the Holmgren Design office staff)
Gary Smith, Melbourne: Death of a Gardener

Thank you to Juanita from Broderick Photography for capturing the spirit of Sunday’s event so eloquently:

David Holmgren announces the winning poems

Fiona Hile discusses why Michael Farrell’s poem was selected

Ross Gillett discusses and reads Mark Miller’s poem

David congratulates Michael Farrell

Michael Farrell reads his winning entry

David congratulates Brian Purcell

Brian Purcell shows his painting his poem was based on

Brian Purcell reads his shortlisted poem

David congratulates Geraldine Burrowes

Geraldine Burrowes reads her highly commended poem

Su Dennett reads Gary Smith’s ‘Packing Room’ poem

If you’d like to find out when the 2018 Venie Prize is announced, please subscribe to our very infrequent email newsletter or like us on Facebook.

0

2018 Ashram Permaculture Design Course

Permaculture Design Course

Friday 23 February – Saturday 10 March 2018

2017 Ashram PDC

 

Are you looking to create a more sustainable lifestyle?

Meet like-minded people?

Retrofit your house, your community and your life?

Become less dependent on big business and supermarkets?

Design a resilient system in the face of growing uncertainties?

 

The course

A PDC can be a life changing experience. Join us in the unique environment of the Rocklyn Ashram and be taught by a mix of experienced and enthusiastic permaculture tutors including David Holmgren.

This is a fully residential, fully catered course running over 15 days with a short break in the middle. This is a completely immersive experience.

The course will be structured around Holmgren’s 12 permaculture principles (detailed in Permaculture: principles and pathways beyond sustainability) and goes beyond land-based design, bringing permaculture to all aspects of human living.

 

https://permacultureprinciples.com/downloads/Principle_Wheel_with_type.jpg

 

The venue

The course will take place at the Rocklyn Ashram, nestled in the Wombat Forest near Daylesford in Central Victoria. Only a one and a half hour drive from Melbourne, you will feel like you are in another world. Beautiful and quiet, this special space creates an ideal learning environment.

Taking part in the ashram’s daily yoga program can further enhance your learning and enrich your experience. The ashram environment exemplifies and provides an experience of living by permaculture ethics. The serene and spiritual focus of the ashram complements the mindfulness of permaculture practice and reminds us to balance our activity and think with reflection.

Accommodation is camping in the grounds of the ashram. You will need to BYO tent and gear. Alternatively you can choose to stay in a gender segregated triple share dorm room or a private room. Please note, these last two options incur additional fees.

At times the ashram program and the intensity of the course can seem challenging, however almost all of the participants comment that the benefits continue long after the course ends.


The food

Delicious, wholesome and ethical meals will be prepared by Su Dennett and the ashram’s kitchen volunteers. Su will make sure that what you eat meets permaculture standards. Items will be sourced from local organic and bio-dynamic growers in a living example of using and maintaining sustainable food supply networks. You will be served vegetarian meals together with the ashram residents.

 

Tutors

You will learn from the co-founder of permaculture, David Holmgren, and a team of excellent permaculture practitioners and educators. Their depth of practical and theoretical knowledge will make this a very special PDC. There will also be opportunities to socialise with the presenters outside of session times.

 

Prerequisites?

There are no prerequisites for this course, but it is recommended you read the Essence of Permaculture if you have not yet done so. All other titles and writings by David Holmgren are highly recommended for those who have read Essence already. Please have a look through our online store or visit your local library.

 

Course content

This course will equip you with the foundations of permaculture. You will learn permaculture ethics, principles and design, and their application across the domains, so that you can integrate them into all aspects of your life.

Topics include:

  • permaculture ethics and principles
  • ecology and natural cycles
  • weather and climates
  • soils
  • permaculture food growing
  • energy literacy
  • reading the landscape
  • appropriate technology
  • built environment
  • design processes and practices
  • animals in permaculture
  • health and spiritual wellbeing
  • urban retrofitting
  • finance and economics
  • community strategies

The classroom experience will be complemented by field trips to working permaculture farms, homes and gardens including one of the best documented demonstration sites, Melliodora.

You will work on a design project of part of the ashram during the course. You will be guided by experienced tutors and learn the fundamentals of permaculture to design the world you want.

 

Payment and extra charges

 

Item Fee (AUD$) Due
Non-refundable deposit – Australian participant $500 Upon enrolment
Remaining course fee – Australian participant – earlybird $1700 Friday 1st December 2017
Remaining course fee – Australian participant – full fee $1900 Friday 26th January 2018
Course fee – Australian / Overseas participant – earlybird $2200 Upon enrolment, before Friday 1st December 2017
Course fee – Australian / Overseas participant – full fee $2400 Upon enrolment, before Friday 26th January 2018
Payment fee via PayPal 3% With payment – per transaction
Gender segregated, triple share room $2475 $2275 earlybird price
Private accommodation at the Ashram $3450 $3250 earlybird price

 

Is there a concession price?

Applications for the concession rate have now closed.

* * *

Still have questions? Please read through our FAQ page.

Bookings now open!

If the 2018 Ashram PDC sounds like it’s for you, fantastic! Please secure your place by registering.

 

1

Vale Rod May

One of Australia’s ecological farming pioneers, and a close friend, passed away today. Rod May aged 63 died in intensive care after a road accident between Ballarat and his family farm at Blampied 5 days previously. Rod was a 4th generation farmer on 200 acres at the foot of Kangaroo Hills in the prime red cropping country of central Victoria. In the late 1970’s Rod returned to the farm motivated by interest in self reliance, organics and tree crops and “fell back into farming” as something to do in between starting the Central Victorian Tree Planting Co-op and getting elected to the very conservative Creswick Council.

Photo: Josie Alexandra

The Landcare movement emerged simultaneously in several regions across Australia in the late 70’s and early 80’s. One of those places was central Victoria and Rod May played a leading roll in it. In 1983 when Project Branchout received federal funding to employ people to plant trees on demonstration sites right across the Campaspe, Loddon and Avoca catchments in response to the threat of salinity, the committee fell on their feet in employing Rod and his crew from the CVTPC to manage the huge program. Rod had the same holistic vision of the committee, the ability to take risks, roll with the punches and engage with conservative farmers, and with some of the unemployed workers putting the trees in the ground. Most importantly he had dirt under his nails as both a farmer and tree planter.

Rod May, 1992. Photo: David Holmgren

Rod was not part of the first generation of organic farmers but he was one of the generation that integrated the new ecological thinking of the 1970’s including permaculture, and connected it to the emerging markets for organic produce that lead to organic certification in the late 80’s. As founding president of the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (in 1986) Rod May was at the forefront of driving the importance of links between ecological science, organics and the emerging sustainable development concept. At the same time he was converting his part of the family farm to organics, implementing large-scale plantings of shelter, fodder, timber, fruit and nut , still working for Project Branchout in their Bicentennial revegetation of the Captains Creek Catchment that included the family farm. As plantation designer I worked closely with Rod at that time and remember when he and I headed up the steep slopes of Kangaroo Hills overlooking the May family farm to get some of the shelterbelts in the ground. I had my two-year-old son Oliver to help us and that began a thirty-year bond between Oliver and Rod.

As organics grew in the 1990’s, Rod spent an increasing amount of time in meetings around the country and the world making the global linkages through the International Federation of Organic Farming Movements and doing some of the first organic certifications for farmers ranging from cranky older generation organic pioneers to coffee growers in East Timor and lake bed croppers in the semi arid zone. His keen observation skills, memory for facts, figures and protocols, his slow talking easy going manner and his enjoying a beer or, in the right circles, a joint allowed him to tackle novel situations and always learn something new.

Rod at home on the family farm, Blampied. Photo: David Holmgren

I remember when the diverse and disparate organic and biodynamic groups where having to work together with the Australian government to establish protocols for organic export trade. Alex Podolinsky, head of Demeter Biodynamics would not speak to any of the NASAA people except Rod “because he was the only real farmer”. I arrived early one day at the farm to have Rod introduce me to Alex Podolinsky, who immediately launched into an explanation of what was wrong with permaculture. After Alex left I asked what the visit was about. Rod said he thought it was an “informal biodynamic inspection.”

This understated diplomacy allowed Rod to work with the idealists and the pragmatists of the organic movement, even if his sometimes slap dash approach to getting things done in drafting a document or consigning pallets of veggies left his partners frustrated and sometimes having to pick up the pieces. Life at home with Viv and their daughters Stephanie and Carla, as well as his brothers Greg, Doug and their families on the family farm was not always smooth but as an outside observer, one of the ways in which Rod contributed to harmony was a tolerance of whatever others dished up for him. He and Viv lived fairly independent lives but their wide social circle and love of a party kept them going between their respective passions for organic farming and teaching.

I can remember Su phoning Rod’s father Maurice to find out where Rod was and the exasperated answer; somewhere in America and I don’t know when he’s back. But I also remember marvelling at Rod getting back from an trans pacific flight then the same afternoon jumping on the tractor to plough up the new veggie cropping paddock before the rains came. During those years of globe trotting Maurice provided a back stop for Rod and supported the organic methods which were adopted by brothers Greg and Doug. Like his father, Rod was a big bloke and worked like few of the baby boom generation could. Within the organic/green movement intellectuals he was as sharp as the best of us but in the spud paddock, no one I know could work day in day out like Rod. I remember when I had a chronicly bad back he told me in all seriousness that picking spuds was great for fixing a bad back. In his later years his knees began to give him trouble after all those years working across the furrows and mounds of several acres of irrigated vegetable he cranked out year after year.

Rod with PDC students. Photo: Ian Lillington

In the early 1990s we began taking our residential Permaculture Design Course participants to his farm to get a taste, literally, of a real organic farm that best illustrated permaculture principles supplying local and central markets with basic food. Rod’s seamless grasp of everything from soil ecology, tree crop potentials, organic marketing and mechanics and gadgets involved in farming, was immense. We would go out and harvest the veg that didn’t meet commercial standards and take it back to the farmhouse where Su would organise the roast lunch with Maurice helping cook the farm killed mutton.

While we promoted Captains Creek as a good example of permaculture, Rod never did. In a piece I wrote in the early 1990’s I said many ecological pioneers who chose not to describe their work as permaculture did so for one of three reasons; because of the bad examples they had seen called permaculture, because they didn’t want to alienate more conservative audiences or because they didn’t think what they were doing met the high ecological standards they associated with the permaculture concept. In Rod’s case I believe it was a mix of the three with the last being the most important.

Food Relocalisation in action. Rod delivering CSA veggie boxes to Su at the Hepburn Relocalisation Network food co-op. Photo: David Holmgren

During the 1990’s I watched the rewards and strictures of supplying central markets pushing Rod towards being a specialist broccoli producer supplying Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and even Brisbane markets in mid to late summer when it was difficult for producers in warmer districts to do so. Rod was surprised at his own success. He thought that once the market for organics became established, the big specialist vegetable growers would take over and that he would head the other way diversifying to supply local markets using methods he had seen working in Europe, Japan and the US including farmer’s markets and community supported agriculture.

Rod’s involvement in the international organic scene continued with his membership of the scientific advisory board, IFOAM and in 2005 in bringing the IFOAM international conference to Adelaide. But over time he started to organise his exit from organics politics and to encourage the next generation onto the board of NASAA including our son Oliver. Rod’s political focus shifted back to local government and in 2006 he was elected to the Hepburn Shire. Su recalls that Rod was rather slack about campaigning, but his charm, laid back style and ability to connect to the average person got him over the line.

Around the same time after some pestering by Su to produce boxes for local customers instead of all being shipped off to central markets, Rod asked her when she wanted to start. The next week Rod delivered 6 cardboard boxes full of mixed unwashed veggies to our place for pick up by the customers that Su had organised.

Over the following couple of seasons Rod turned his whole farming operation around to focus on boxes delivered to Hepburn, Castlemaine, Ballarat and Melbourne. In the same way that centralised markets reward monocultural specialisation, box schemes demand diversity from the farmer. The fact that Rod turned his relatively large production scale around to supply that diversity was testament to his skills as a farmer. Rod’s fields were rough and ready even by organic standards, full of weeds and some produce not making the grade but the productivity from limited and often erratic input of skilled labour was truly amazing.

Rod in 2005 at the IFOAM conference doing an Aussie farmer skit. Photo: David Holmgren

Apart from extra needs for catering for events and courses, we have always grown our own produce without the fuel and gadgets (Rod’s term for farm equipment) that sustained Rod’s farming operation but there were years where in disgust I thought I should give up and just buy from Rod. Whatever the season and the weather Rod just kept on delivering and at the end of the season the weedy fields full of left over veg was good to fatten the sheep after the gleaners had their share. My personal comparison with Rod led me to assert that I am probably a better ecological builder than ecological farmer but I know what the world needs more. We have enough buildings already but we need to eat each day.

On council Rod was a mover and a shaker, using his deep experience with negotiation and decision making, process and protocol to good effect but in a context very different from the parochial years on Creswick council in his youth. He championed a Climate Change and Peak Oil policy for Hepburn Shire, the second in the state and a number of other pioneering initiatives at a time when Hepburn was becoming famous for the first community owned wind farm in Australia.

After Viv died tragically in the Samoan tsunami in 2009 Rod poured himself into local council, and as mayor contributed to the growth of the local food culture as central to the tourist economy of the region. In 2011 he managed to get funding for an Energy Descent Action Plan for Hepburn shire but Rod’s vision and the consultancy that I delivered in response were too radical even for our progressive environmentally aware community.

On the home front Rod began to focus on the future with development of Viv’s Lang Road property and a vision for the farm into the future. After leaving council Rod threw himself into a farm redevelopment plan at the same time as he was active in the Greens, supporting his daughter Steph’s candidacy, and even stood for the Greens in the seat of Ripon.

He did try to engage me in a farm planning process but with my focus on teaching and writing, Rod couldn’t wait and in typical style he whipped up cabins, an autonomous power system, new fencing, a farm processing shed and other infrastructure necessary following the formal division of the farm between the three brothers following Maurice’s death. It was only around this time that I discovered my good mate had originally trained as a diesel mechanic and that his ability with machines was more than rudimentary but like everything else if a vehicle or machine was working, Rod’s energy was focused elsewhere. If machinery failed, like sheep getting into the crops, Rod could just cut his loses and move on.

Rod was also a motorbike rider, what a friend and local doctor called “a temporary citizen”. Just another one of the risks he took along with the weather, the crops, the politics and at times the law. But I know that while Rod had incredible energy he was not manic and not ever what I would call reckless.

When his luck ran out on the way home from Ballarat after getting a tool for current building projects, the wonders of modern intensive care gave the hope of a rebuild and another chance for my old mate Rod to at least pass on his incredible knowledge of the farm and life to the next generation. But that process was already well underway. After decades of working with and teaching volunteers, interns and community members the in and outs of farming, Rod had been working with his daughters on the farm future. Stephanie and her partner Oggy along with his bother Serge have been working to keep Captains Creek organics humming.

Hopefully the farm customers and especially all of us who knew Rod can support the May family to build on the vision and the legacy after the great man had to cut his loses and move on

To Rod’s family, daughters, Steph + Carla, and his brothers, Greg and Doug, we send our love and deepest condolence.

– David Holmgren, Hepburn, 30 May 2017

You can read the obituary Jason Alexandra and I wrote for Rod in The Age here.

19

The 2017 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the 2017 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize. The specifics are as follows:

Major prize: AUD$1000

All entries must be received by 11.59 pm EST, Friday July 14 2017.
The shortlist and winner will be announced during the Daylesford Words in Winter festival, August 4-6, 2017.
The judges for the 2017 competition are Ross Gillett and Fiona Hile.

Entry terms and conditions

1. Entrants must be citizens of Australia or New Zealand or have permanent resident status in Australia or New Zealand.
2. Poems must be unpublished (including online) and not under consideration by other publishers.
3. Poems that have won or are under consideration in other competitions are not eligible.
4. Poems must have an environmental theme.
5. All poems must be written in English.
6. The winning poems will be published on www.holmgren.com.au
7. An entry fee of $10 will be charged and is payable via bank transfer, PayPal, cash or cheque. A receipt will be sent as confirmation once the money has been received.
8. The name of the poet must not appear on the manuscript (including the header or footer) since all poems will be considered anonymously.
9. Poems must be no more than 80 lines.
10. Multiple entries are permitted, though a $10 fee applies to each poem.
11. Please ensure you are satisfied with your poem before submitting. Poems that are withdrawn and subsequently resubmitted will incur a second fee.
12. The competition closes 11.59 pm EST, Friday July 14, 2017.
13. Selection will be made by the judges. The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.

Please click here to submit your poem.


About the judges

Ross Gillett’s poems have appeared in The Age, The Australian and The Canberra Times and in journals in Australia and the US. His book, The Sea Factory was one of the Five Islands Press New Poets 2006 series. In 2010 he published a chapbook of old and new poems – Wundawax and other poems – with Mark Time Books. His awards for poetry include the Robert Harris Poetry Prize, the Broadway Poetry Prize, the FAW John Shaw Neilson Award (twice), the Melbourne Poet’s Union National Poetry Prize, the Reason-Brisbane Poetry Prize, the City of Greater Dandenong National Poetry Prize and the Woorilla Poetry Prize. He has been twice shortlisted for the Blake Poetry Prize and was awarded second place in the 2016 Newcastle Poetry prize. Ross lives in Daylesford where he works as a project manager for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Fiona Hile’s first full-length collection, Novelties, was awarded the 2014 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry. In 2012 she won the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize and was awarded second place in the Overland 2012 Judith Wright Poetry Prize. Her poems have been published in journals, newspapers and anthologies in Australia, Canada, UK, US, Prague and The Netherlands. Her second book of poems, Subtraction, will be published in 2017.


About Venievenie

In her late 50’s Venie Holmgren began to write poetry and her first published anthology, The Sun Collection for the Planet in 1989, became a poetry ‘best seller’. At the same time, she applied her environmental activist skills and commitment to the campaign to save native forests near her home on the far south coast of NSW, where she was arrested twice for obstructing log trucks. After 16 years of solo self-reliant living she moved to the local town of Pambula where she penned her travel memoir, several more books of poetry and travelled widely as a performance poet. In 2010 Venie moved to Hepburn where she wrote her last poetry collection, The Tea-house Poems. In January 2016, Venie “caught the bus” at the age of 93 .

You can read more of Venie’s life here:
www.theguardian.com/books/australia-books-blog/2015/mar/25/in-praise-of-venie-holmgren-at-92-still-an-activist-adventurer-and-a-poet


Please click here to submit your poem.

2