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 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

Alley Cropping

Alley cropping along the contour lines and working with a keyline system is a highly productive, sustainable way to farm. Here is a shot from Mark Shephard’s co-operative farm, New Forest Farm in the Driftless region Southwestern Wisconsin, USA. The secret is the prune the roots regularly by running a deep blade-shaped plough in the pathway between the trees and perennial vegetable rows. This forces the roots to dive deep and not compete with the next row of crops.

alley-cropping
Alley cropping as demonstrated on New Forest Farm USA with Mark Shephard

 

 

Seek Not To Feed Your Plants, Feed Their Soil

feed-the-soil

The understanding of soils is valuable for all permaculture designers. We can design a permaculture system that works with and not against the nature of that particular soil-type. We can plan a succession of plants, reintroduce micro-organisms and cleansing plants and ultimately achieve higher productivity for the site using nature as our guide rather than importing mined resources (ie. phosphate, lime or minerals) to change the soil-type.

Understanding Our Web Of Life

In permaculture we seek to understand the web of life in our unique climate and bioregion.

web of life - diverse from the source to the sink.
A painting of a brook in New England 1863 web of life – diverse from the source to the sink.

From the initial source (sun, rain, wind, and animals) energy is diverted, used, released again and transferred from one element to another. Energy connects these elements. Their common use of energy forms a web of relationships. From the source to the sink (the place where the energy leaves the system):

  • Diversity increases
  • Energy stores increase
  • Organisational complexity increases

Design Hiding Places For Your Chickens

channel_billed_cuckoo

The chickens were SCREAMING. The Channel Billed Cuckoo was hovering with menace and so all the chickens run to hide under the bushes. In the permaculture garden there are lots of layers of vegetation, the smaller plants that enjoy living under fruit trees include Monstera Deliciosa, pineapple sage, hazelnut, native raspberry, orchids, begonia.

Chickens love hiding places.  You can see this Cuckoo has been feasting on our Mulberries. He was so fat and heavy that the branches of the trees were waving goodbye as he moved from tree to tree.

The Super Tree: The Mulberry

What Is There Not To Love
About Mulberries?

The dark colour advertises their high nutritional value, mulberriesthey make wonderful juice and food for us and the poultry, they resist most pests including fruit-fly. They also feed a multitude of native animals and reptiles.  Mulberry trees are hardy, able to  be shaped and easy to propagate.  The timber is suitable as fuel for heating the home, they make excellent shade in summer. In cooler climates, they drop their leaves to allow light into the picnic areas, home and garden.

mulberry-cheesecake
Mulberry Cheesecake. Gluten free base of sunflower seeds and dates, cheesecake layer, mulberry and agar gel on upper layer. Flower petals, lime leaves and coffee bean fruits on top for edible decoration. Permaculture Visions demonstration site. Cake by Shane Moon

Here is a scrumptious Mulberry Pancake by Ella Whyman:

mulberry-pancake
Mulberry Pancake, coconut cream and roasted shredded coconut by Ella Whyman

harriet

 

Unusual foods

Some of this weeks harvest contains unusual and beautiful foods. unusual-foods

There is an abundance of Mulberry (black and white varieties), flowers (begonia, sage, roses, bottlebrush, nasturtiums), choko sprouts, sweet potato (Kumara) leaves, banana leaves, watercress, grape leaves, peruvian ground apple, curry leaf, Kaffir lime, Jerusalem artichokes and much more.

 

Nutrient Dense Salads at Your Back Door

nutrient_rich_salad

Nutrient rich salad greens include bitter lettuce, and herbs.
The fresher the food, the higher the nutritional value.
Romaine Lettuce is one of the highest nutritional foods, it even contains high levels of protein. If we take these salads greens and fresh egg from happy hens, we can have a enriching lunch, and you get a few minutes outside in the fresh air reconnecting with nature instead of pushing a trolley in a supermarket or standing in a queue with hurried people!

Online Mentoring Triumphs Again

With very little support we were able to pioneer teaching online by putting the student needs first.

we found our niche and we are filling it!
we love our niche!

“One-on-one mentorship was long ago found to be dramatically more effective than group instruction. Having the full attention of an instructor accelerates an individual’s learning by focusing them on the right problems at the right times, and having a real relationship with one person provides students with accountability.”http://techcrunch.com/2014/09/11/the-mooc-revolution-that-wasnt/

When we began in 1993, we had a vision to help people in physically and socially remote situations. We aimed to focus on mentoring people in remote locations as much as helping working mothers. We have slowly built a student base in 60 countries and are very proud of our graduates.

“We’re all still searching for the right formula, but the ingredients will be the same as they’ve always been: Learning through exploration, thoughtfully designed for the right behaviors, with great teachers providing support.” http://techcrunch.com/2014/09/11/the-mooc-revolution-that-wasnt/

Permaculture Visions offers Learning through exploration by connecting participants with their broader community socially, physically and online. It constantly re-evaluates their Permaculture Course program and material for relevance and encouragement of beneficial behaviours that build a rewarding lifestyle and a cleaner planet. And it constantly aims to provide experience and personable teaching support through it’s basic goal of student-focused learning. We believe that there is never a wrong answer, perhaps just an answer that needs a bit more research.

All learning leads to a discovery of the truth. All learning invites us to look beyond ourselves and our own needs and connects us with the greater world.

Permaculture In A Big White Box

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Growing food from purchased food

We bought wholefoods to cook our dinner. Amongst the groceries we got some spring onions and used the tops, then put the stems in a glass to grow and use as needed.

Repairing old wares to give new joy

Flowers and Vase pre-loved, bought from local recycle shop. Pretty ‘weeds’ were added. They will dry out and provide bulk to the arrangmenet. The old silk flowers were washed, re-arranged and repaired as needed.

Using Nature’s Energy

Drying clothes by nature whilst abiding by restrictive laws.

Supporting Farmers

Supporting Farmers works for us in many very healthy ways. It helps us to meet and learn from local farmers, get fresh nutrient dense food, ensures that the money bypasses middle men, reduces packaging marketing and transport required to get food.

Wild Harvesting and Invited Scrumping

Collecting fruit from heritage trees enables us to enjoy the fruit and process and save the seed, then find a local gardener who would enjoy these seeds. We don’t have to have our own trees to contribute to the conservation of rare species.