Permaculture in 3 Words – Design, Observe, Adapt

permaculture-isPermaculture differs from other ecological and social movements because it’s core focus is design.  It is not a lobby movement (although many of us may feel the need to lobby governments to achieve our community goals).  It is not just about conserving our existing bio-diversity. It offers solutions that are based on consultation and seek a fair way to build a resilient future for humanity and for plant and animal life.

Permaculture design begins with ethics, optimism and planning.  Permaculture design adapts dynamically as a result of keen observation and feedback. Each person’s design will be different but we all have the same ideals: to find a way to live that cares for other people and cares for the planet.

Permaculture Zones

Permaculture Zoning in a bag
Permaculture Design Technique called Zoning, can be practiced on a wide range of scales as diverse from Farms to kitchen, to bags.

Zoning is a Permaculture design technique where we put the elements or items of a design in areas according to need. The needs of the item and our use of it. For instance, we need tea herbs, so we plant them in pots on the kitchen window sill, (zone 0) some more near our doorstep (Zone 1) and other types of mint that love a lot of space, can serve other purposes such as suppressing weeds and only need occasional attention (such as mint) further away, perhaps in Zone 3.  Permaculture Techniques such as Zoning are scale-able.  The design technique called Zoning can be applied on large farms, city apartments, urban homes,  kitchen design,  and even in the design or re-design of a little bag. (you can redesign a bag by inserting pockets, wallets or compartments. This is similar to how we re-design a property by using fencing for the zones).

You can also view here a traditional view of permaculture zoning for a farm.

Are You Making Money or Making A Living?

There is a world of difference between making money and making a living.
Making a living requires a greater intelligence.

Sure, we are going to have to accept some lost opportunities if we choose to curb our greed a little, but then we we get the chance to see rich benefits of preserving resources for others and for our environment.

We can aim to find ways to save energy for the rainy days, enrich existing resources for our children’s children and build a better future for all.

Still-life-by-Jan-Davidsz-de-Heem-(1606-1684)-Toledo-Museum-of-Art

Permaculture-Thinking Promotes Revolutionary Technology

Some people might think that living a Permaculture lifestyle means going back to peasant farming. Actually it is the opposite.  Permaculture steps beyond the industrial era, beyond the technological era and into a balancing era.

The rocket stove principle. Source: Aprovecho

The two core ethics of Permaculture are People Care and Planet Care. These ethics are balanced beautifully by the use of high-efficiency low-cost designs. It is the focus on intelligent design, awareness and use of Biomimcry and constant search for efficiency that drives the long list of Permaculture achievements.

There have been huge gains in solar power, responsible composting systems, bio-diesel fuel from algae,  Plastic-eating bacteria and many recent discoveries that give us strides in efficiency. Science is fast catching up with Permaculture ethics, realising that only through balance can we have resilience and true sustainability.

In the quietly revolutionary 70s hippie-era ‘alternative technology’ made massive chicken-drumsticks-and-potatos-for-dinnerimprovements in the lives of many people.  Simple little modifications to ancient old techniques led to new inventions like The Rocket Stove, Bio-char, bio-gas fuel, Humanure and many domestic experiments in Solar and wind which are now commercially viable.

Learn with us how to make a Rocket-Stove for your picnics and outdoor holiday adventures. Learn how to cook on open flame or in a home-made pizza oven.

Self-renewing Living Fences

What price would you put on a fence that repaired itself, sang to you in the morning, reduced the harsh wind, was warm in winter and cool in summer and gave you privacy, trapped silt and improved the soil beneath and gave you mulch?  Not long ago, these resources were common-place.  Hedges were the strong, self-renewing fences of the developed world. Hedges provide a web of habitat for bees, small birds and a myriad of insects including the beneficial insects.

Reasons why hedges have disappeared:

empty-life1. The modern pursuit of perfection has eliminated many of the skills and resources of the Romanticism era. Yet a tidy world is an a truly empty one and many people strive to reconnect with nature.

2. Hedges have died out of use in rural areas due to industrial scale farming machinery. In urban areas it is due to the great population and housing boom pushing out farms on the edges of the cities. Today, few communities can afford the space to reintroduce hedges. They introduce trees because people can walk under and around individual trees.

3. The third reason why hedges have died out of use is the increase in the transmission of invasive species. Hedges in conservation areas can encourage invasive species and can be harder to maintain.

The easy solution is to build living fences that are narrow, strong and acceptably ‘tidy’.  If you have an existing fence, start planting shrubbery along it now. This shrubbery can be pleached together as it grows. You can espalier fruit trees such as fig, apricot, mulberry, pomegranate, brazilian cherry, blueberries, jabuticaba, sage, daisy, hibiscus, carob, olive, tea camellia. If you choose small trees and shrubs you will have less maintenance and low-growing fruit. If you need people-stoppers try thorny lemons, finger-limes, sugar-cane, and other medium height spiky plants. Put low growing or dense edibles at the base ie. Dianella caerulea, Arrowroot, begonia, jerusalem artichokes and lemongrass.

If you don’t have a an existing fence to support and protect your young living fence you can build a woven fence. Use random prunings in the simple weave, make stakes out of strong branches (simply trim any unwanted growth if it occurs) and incorporate the cuttings of the species you want for your living fence beside the strong stakes used in the fence. The woven fence will support and protect your cuttings.

 

Trees – The Gentlest Superheros of All Time

goddes-tree

 

Every single day – a tree transforms sunlight and water into:

Fuel – Wood and Oils, Food, Forage, Fodder, Structural timber, Conservation Habitat, Carbon Sequestration, Soil Management, Water management, Oils, Nuts, Fruits, Edible leaves, Mulch, Shelter, Animal barrier and fodder, Fungi Habitat above and below the ground, Alcohol, Cloud seeding (fungi and dust), Temperature regulation (cooling hot air, warming cold air), Wind and Frost mitigation and many more powerful acts.

Practical and Pretty Ferrocement

“Ferrocement Steps with Lace and Wild Tiles” sounds like an exotic recipe yet our Ferrocement creations are made very simply. They are practical (a step or water retention basin) and pretty. It costs nothing more than a pinch of pizazz and time to add frills to the functional creation.

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We use whatever materials we already have on hand. We buy only a bag of Cement, and combine this with reclaimed gravel, off cuts of wire mesh a bit of old lace and some broken tiles or ceramics. We use old bricks and dirty gravel as the aggregate and as the tint.

Making cement is easier than cooking, all you have to do is make sure you mix it well, then leave it to bake. As it bakes we add pretty impressions or embedded broken tiles. We tap the tiles into place with the end of a hammer and simply press the concrete up to the sides of the tiles with a gloved finger.

Timing is everything for adding the decoration. We make the concrete (mix of cement and an aggregate of reused gravel or sandy soil) fairly sloppy, like soft-serve ice-cream.  When it wobbles like a Buddha’s tummy, you can embed tiles into it. As the concrete mix gets slightly firmer, you can put lace on it and press that in gently so the lace is partially covered. Wait until the sheen on the concrete is gone and the surface is powdery, then lift the lace away carefully to leave the imprint.

As soon as the surface powdery dry, wipe each tile with a clean dry rag. If you miss a bit during the tile-cleaning you can come back later using a tiny bit of vinegar on a small fresh rag tied to the end of a stick for precision, but it is much easier to do the cleaning before the cement sets rock hard.

The full cost of making this step (which also doubles as a water catchment and directing platform) was $5 cement, recycled broken bricks, old lace curtain (we last used this as part of our emergency bee handling kit) and tiles.

Permaculture and Building Young Leaders

Do you know a young person who needs to build self-confidence, feel empowered and keen to set themselves goals?

The Crossing in Bermagui is a great permaculture training site and has opportunities for young people and aims to build their leadership skills.

S2S [Sea2Snow] 2015

‘Get into the wild and find yourself’

8 Sea to Snow positions left for Year 9-11 students.

Sea to Snow S2S 2014

Only 7 guys and 7 girls are admitted.   Apply for the 3 day training camp now!

For bookings see: Sea 2 Snow training

‘Leadership with altitude!’

July Hands-On Permaculture Design Course

This permaculture design was created by April 15 years ago and has travelled the world extensively. It has been used to promote courses and workshops in many countries.
This permaculture design was created by April 15 years ago and has traveled the world extensively. Good design never dates.

Permaculture Visions Instructor, April Sampson-Kelly is co-teaching this course. Permaculture Design Certificate Course (PDC) 6th to 18th July 2015 Sydney.
For the ultimate PDC experience the Permaculture Sydney Institute offers its winter PDC with some of Sydney’s experienced permaculture elders – Penny Pyett, April Sampson Kelly, Peter Brecknock and other special guests. Each has well-established credentials in permaculture. They also have well established permaculture properties and experience designing and developing many others. They have worked professionally in Permaculture teaching, designing and consulting for over 15 years as well as participating in the broader permaculture community in a voluntary capacity.

The PDC at the beautiful and very lush Banksia Country Retreat
makes it not just a course but also a very special two-week experience in style and comfort: log fires, wholesome food and luxurious facilities you will never forget. A heavily discounted PDC accommodation package enables you to immerse yourself totally in an on-site permaculture experience of a lifetime.

This is the final PDC offered at the extraordinary value of $1495 including meals.

The Institutes traditional PDC, as designed by Bill Mollison, is taught globally using the “Designers Manual” as the curriculum. Upon completion of the PDC Participants receive the PDC Certificate as issued by the Permaculture Institutes with global recognition.
Inquiries phone Penny:

http://www.permaculturesydneyinstitute.org/event/permaculture-design-certificate-course-pdc/

Look Deep Into Nature

Permaculture is a design tool for building a better lifestyle. Observation is what helps a good design to respond, adapt and endure. Passion and ethics are what drive the change. “Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better.”  Albert Einstein

By building our observation skills we can become faster learners, and more responsive to our bodies, our relationships and our community.

look-deep

 

The Difference Between Permaculture and Better Farming is Simple

Permaculture is a Design Science. In Permaculture we look at how energy is captured, used and re-used in our efforts to feed, clothe, transport and educate our society.  We optimise the use of natural energies, engage and empower people to meet their own needs and ensure that the waste is well used and re-used. Essentially, we search for a way to close the system.

Permaculture Studies Energy and flow – there is a significant difference between closed and open food-production systems

In a truly closed system (one in vacuum or in space) energy is not lost it is simply transferred from one being or element to another. In a permaculture system, (which can never be fully closed), energy is ideally used by one element effectively and passed on for the benefit of the next before it leaves the system.

The big difference between a permaculture site and a farm is that a farm is a very open system, the farms nutrients are shipped off to market forever and so there is constant need to regenerate the soil through good soil-building practices and importing resources. although the world desperately needs good farming practices, we also need permaculture systems where people can help produce what they need, where they live and can feed the waste back into their permaculture sites.

Community Garden Sheffield Tasmania Austrlaia
Community Garden Sheffield Tasmania Australia

 

Hybrid Learning Path

Permaculture Visions now offers a hybrid blend of online and face-to-face intensive workshops.  See our current workshops here. Workshop participants also have access to our comprehensive notes for that topic.

This learning pathway gives you the chance to do some of our face-to-face workshops as part of your PDC. You may also get RPL [Recognition of Prior Learning] from other permaculture institutions.

hybrid studies

 

Art Of Permaculture Intensive Workshop

Art of Permaculture Intensive Workshop to be held at Sydney Permaculture Institute. Imagine if there was a chance that you could express the complex ideas in Permaculture creatively with clarity and power.

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About Art and Permaculture

Do you sometimes have an idea you find hard to express? Do you wish you could simplify things so others can better understand? Do you want to enrich your projects with good promotional material? Join us in exploring your artistic side, building skills and learn the basics of communicating powerfully and quickly.Image3

Art has always asked the difficult questions. It has often been the brave voice of reason. And sometimes the shining light in troubled times. Through Art we can help make a difference:

  • Stimulate self questioning,
  • Open discussion
  • Build awareness and
  • Inspire people to create changes and
  • Empower people to become part of a beautiful and productive solution.

About the Trainer – April Sampson-Kelly

Image1aApril has been teaching permaculture for 20 years and in more than 60 countries. Because she teaches permaculture online, using her own text and to many people who need visual prompts, her artwork has traveled the world. Permaculture is a very complex design system and requires a lot of different skills to be understood and practiced well.  Her artworks first set up to explain a lot of the tricky concepts in Permaculture. She has also done a range of permaculture designs for clients in Australia and abroad.

April started with a Masters degree in creative arts and has been successful in various artistic projects. She started as an accomplished musician, composer, and lyricist. Her inspiration began as she and her family began building their permaculture food forest in Wollongong 20 years ago. April started teaching permaculture online in 1993 and in her goal to present permaculture in plain English with lots of images and illustrations; she started developing different artistic media to develop permaculture education. She noticed that through art her permaculture clients and fellow educators are able to illustrate, communicate and inspire permaculture ideas. Now her work has traveled the world to promote permaculture. She and her son were the illustrators for the logo for 2014 International Permaculture Day.   Some of her permaculture graduates have been inspired to design permaculture card games, more teaching tools and beautiful graphics.

Workshop Outcomes

During this workshop you will explore all the amazing ways Art can influence design and empower you to explore your concepts. From Patterns through to details we will explore various media, learn their limitations, skills required and find different media that enables you to convey ideas. Even if you think you have no artistic flair, you will be encouraged to explore your ideas and build your creative realm.  With April’s unique combination of a deep knowledge of permaculture and  passionate artistic background you can build the skills to create  inspiring, beautiful and memorable designs. This is one of her iconic designs that have been top in online search ranking for over 10 years.

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The Art of Permaculture

This workshop is for: permaculture designers; landscape architects and designs; design students; teachers; artists; community and school garden designers; anyone interested in art for self skill development and fun.

Workshop Program

  • What is your definition of Art? What different art forms can we explore (realism, fictional and propaganda)?
  • Recognise how art has been integral and powerful in helping permaculture and environmental issues be better understood in the world.
  • Discuss the types of design platforms, advantages and limitations (from spatial art through to software).
  • The basics of design, how the permaculture principles can be applied to our workplace and lifestyle.
  • Discover your unique aesthetic, find you art mentors/idols, determine if you are visual, aural, or kinesthetic.
  • Explore reactive versus proactive Art.
  • Determine where mainstream is and how you may be able to communicate to mainstream without compromising your goals and preferred techniques.
  • Know your market
  • Discuss what challenges artists face (i.e. writers block, client relationships)
  • Define your goals and become empowered through focusing on how to get your passion to pay.
  • Find out how to create employment, find your right-livelihood as a communicator and artist.
  • Pitfalls and benefits of being self-employed.
  • Discuss ways to overcome copyright concerns.
  • Ways to collaborate with other artists and ideas people.

You will set your own goals, define your priorities and create the beginnings of new artworks. There will be lots of exercises in quick fixes, fun cheats, a little light-hearted art-soul searching and most of all an exploration of tools for staying inspired, connected to nature and making powerful permaculture messages.

All artworks shown are the work of April Sampson-Kelly.

Book me in!

 

 

 

 

Peak Permaculture

Humans have affected climate for a long time, even as early as the bronze age. The greatest possible human effect would be Peak-Permaculture: the time when most people are mindful of their impact on the earth and each other. Peak Permaculture will be a time when designing to reduce waste and striving to create and live a more connected and productive lifestyle comes effortlessly and naturally. There will be natural rewards such as pride in living in a beautiful world, enjoying native animals, insects and birds interacting with us, living with healthy lungs and powerful hearts.

Peak Permaculture

 

Helping the Hungry Feed Themselves

Helping the Hungry Feed Themselves is the motto of the The Most Expansive Food Database in the world. This database is accessible and beautiful and is supported by a genuine passion to serve all humanity. Bruce French and his family have collated a wide range of food plants around the world.

hungry-feed-themselves

“Bruce French, founder of FPI Food Plants International, was living in Papua New Guinea at the time and noticed that many villagers suffered disease and malnutrition, often while surrounded by nutritious food plants.

It wasn’t that they didn’t know anything about their local plants, but there were clearly a lot more edible plants than were readily recognised. Also, there was very little nutritional information available about the plants. Bruce also observed that most of the information taught in agricultural colleges related to temperate plants commonly produced in Western agriculture.

From these humble beginnings, Bruce set out to document the food plants of Papua New Guinea, an effort that soon spread to include the entire world of food plants.”  http://foodplantsinternational.com/articles/

 

The Largest Herd On Earth

“Bob” Brown is an Australian former politician, medical doctor, environmentalist, former Senator and former Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens. Bob gave the opening address to the 12th Australian Permaculture Convergence March 2015.
What fires my boilers is being here with 200 Permaculturalists. If the world was run by you we would be fine.” Bob also pointed out that the human race is the largest herd of mammals to have grazed the earth.

mammals

http://www.bobbrown.org.au/

Permaculture and The Emergence of Big Business

Permaculture has achieved what the movement wished. In just a couple of decades it has been embraced by mainstream.  It has become a common word and is now having to shine its boots and pull up its socks.
In the early years, businesses in permaculture was frowned upon. It didn’t seem fair to allow commercialism to profit from a grass-roots movement that had ethics and empowerment at it’s heart. In some cases the frowning came most unfairly from people who had secure paid work in permaculture-related fields (teachers, writers, lecturers in sociology, mental health advocates, organisers of festivals and conferences etc).
If it is ok to have a job related to permaculture, then surely it is ok to have a business in permaculture. In fact it is more than ok, without people in small permaculture businesses, we wouldn’t have the magazines, the news articles, the suppliers of rare plants, animals, biochar, worm-farms etc.

Most of the functions that are needed for the permaculture movement today have been filled by enterprises such as Permaculture businesses and social media enterprises (google, facebook etc).
A few impressive tools have come out of community-based projects such as wikipedia, libre-office, farm-hack, TED (and other online communities)

The activities that have truly helped permaculture flourish in the last decade include:

  • the creation of large data-bases with records showing providence of teachers
  • standards for the Permaculture Design Course and Diploma courses,
  • networks for guilds,
  • good demonstration gardens and villages.
  • good marketing strategies,
  • promotion, funding, organising and facilitation of guest speakers, talk-tours etc
  • Information/resources including magazines, news articles and books
  • video clips, animation to document sucesses over time and how these came about.

Most of these functions would never have been able to be organised and funded by an independant centralised global Permaculture Association. Luckily, existing skilled business people have had their finger on the pulse and jumped in to build these assets.
But it is important that we remind permaculture businesses that there is more reward in their efforts than just money and power. They can become leader in world business practices by building good business ethics into their permaculture businesses.
Without business ethics a successful business quickly rises to become a powerful corporatehood. Corporations crush competitors by undercutting, restricting supply and flooding the market.
Corporate-hood has become a business phenomenoa recognised well in the USA with vocal, massive backlash from communities. Corporations in the USA have become so powerful that they have earnt almost equal rights as individuals. They certainly can afford better legal representation, and have the funds to campaign for the things that will make them bigger.
Bigger is not always better. In permaculture we talk about limits to growth as well as fair share and valuing diversity.
Good permaculture business practise

  • enables all the workers to obtain a local and enriching livie-hood,
  • shares excess by supporting other permaculture projects,
  • does not demand exclusivity at the cost of limiting a supplier to work elsewhere,
  • sets up systems that acknowledge the good work of others,
  • has marketing that is honest and fair (do your research before making bold claims of “being the biggest or the first or the only”)
  • reflects the ethics of permaculture
  • sets limits to growth
  • reinvests earnings in local people and environment
  • acknowledges we are all standing on the shoulders of giants and nurtures others to follow them by establishing honorable practices
  • holds the torch for sustainable [ISO14000] and ethical practices.
Permaculture Principle: Set limits and redistribute surplus
Permaculture Principle: Set limits and redistribute surplus

About the author:
April Sampson-Kelly began her main small permaculture business [permaculturevisions.com] in 1993, she presented a paper at the Perth International Permaculture Conference in 1996 to open discussion and help to infant businesses. She comes from a long line of women who have had their own businesses. She learnt how to run a business by listening to and joining in conversations around the kitchen table as a child. Her mother’s last business was as systems consultant and quality auditor. She learnt about systems whilst working part-time for her mother. She never borrows money nor seeks funding for a project. She demands that the income from a project be much more than just cash earnings. She invests in local suppliers, employs others casually and supports them in their own side ventures. She always starts small and sets limits so she can have a life outside that business and includes a succession plan.  She is presenting a paper on Art of Permaculture at the next national conference in Tasmania, then facilitating a think-tank at London IPCUK. She is also involved in “Next Big Step” Global permaculture group.

Growing Food Indoors

Even when the weather is wild outside, we can grow food indoors. Rooms that have some sunlight can have plants growing at the sill. Lots of yummy sprouts love the cozy indoors. Indoor plants also help improve air quality by trapping dust and toxins then releasing healthier air. Caring for plants also improves our mental well being. Best of all, a growing plant reminds of us of our our own need for natural light, when the plant is happy, the conditions are better for us too.

sprouts-in-window

Paulo Mellett Scholarship

This year we granted a full scholarship in honour of Paulo Mellett. The scholarship recipient is Eurico, a recent migrant from Brazil who plans to better his life, his family’s health and share the experience  with gratitude.

Paulo Mellett helped translate our work at the International Permaculture Convergence in Cuba 2013 and has sadly passed away since.  We wish to celebrate his humble yet powerful influence and continue to bridge the gap between rich and poor, detached and sensitive cultures, dysfunctional and harmonious societies.

paulo-mellett-scholarship
In honour of Paulo Mellett we have created and awarded a full scholarship.

We aim to keep the memory of Paulo Mellett, his work and ambition alive through investing good will in others. Join us, pass on the good will in your own teaching and demonstration of sustainable living.

Credit: Sculpture by Herman A McNeil The Moqui Runner Chicago Museum of Art

 

Durable Beauty

Cordwood construction exercises patience. When we don’t wait for the timbers to fully dry before the installation they crack and let breezes through.  The binding materials also needs to dry very slowly to be strong and durable.  It even starts with an exercise in patience with the planning, sourcing of matching bottles, cutting the tops of pieces to fit and taping them top-to-top.

Patient planning, selection and preparation can create spectacular durable constructions.  Here is an excellent example from Kinstone Permaculture USA

cordwood-usa