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Dave Jacke
"Principles expressed through patterns and processes create systems that yield emergent properties."
The new focus of this discussion forum, in addition to permagriculture, is Peasant Sovereignty. Here's a great article on that:

Peasant Sovereignty?
By Evaggelos Vallianatos

In May 2014, the Spain-based international agrarian organization, Grain, reported that small farmers not only “feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland,” but they are also the most productive farmers on Earth. For example, small farmers and peasants in nine European countries outproduce large farmers. The “productivity of small farms [in Europe] is at least twice that of big farms.” This remarkable achievement is not limited to Europe. Grain says: “if all farms in Kenya had the current productivity of the country’s small [peasant] farms, Kenya’s agricultural production would double. In Central America and Ukraine, it would almost triple. In Russia, it would be increased by a factor of six.”

The European invasion of the tropics in the fifteenth century, the industrialization of agriculture in the nineteenth century, and the triumph of communism in the twentieth century proved catastrophic for peasant societies.

China village

These major events remade the world in the image of Europe. The European colonizers carried with them their mechanized agriculture and their distaste for things agrarian.

The British ruling class, for example, confiscated the land of British and Irish peasants, expelling many of them to Australia and to the Americas. This stealing of peasant land is what historians now call enclosure.

When the Europeans conquered the tropics, they put into practice enclosures. They confiscated the best land for themselves. They taxed and enslaved the native people by forcing them to grow cash crops for export.

The rise of communism had equally devastating effects on peasants in Russia, Eastern Europe, China and Southeast Asia. Communism lasted for most of the twentieth century.

This massive violence against peasant life and rural culture shaped our industrialized agriculture. Its failure today is therefore much more than the poisoning of our food and drinking water and the ecological devastation it sows. The blood of peasants and small family farmers is on the hands of industrialized agriculture. Its failure is thus moral and political as well.

Resistance and struggle
Despite the war against them, peasants continue to resist. Along with the organic or biological family farmers of the Western world, they offer the only hope for raising food without the deleterious consequences of industrialized agriculture.

In the mid-1970s, I tasted the bitter reality of the peasants. In 1976, I wrote my first book about them. I called it Fear in the Countryside because I sensed that fear in the country of Colombia where I did some of my research. Colombia in the 1970s, like almost everyone else, was enclosing land in a war against its peasants. America was on the side of landowners.

In the book I wrote that peasants are productive small family farmers feeding most of the world’s population. It is still true today. According to the February 2015 Berlin Memorandum on Sustainable Livelihoods for Smallholders, peasants “produce the bulk of all food in developing countries, including 70% of all the millets, tubers, fruits and vegetables.” Experts from Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Germany and India wrote the Berlin Memorandum.

The pro-peasant message of my book infuriated the Charles Kettering Foundation, which funded my research. Like the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, it was in the thick of private-public partnerships, funding and encouraging the industrialization of the tropics.

I refused to change my book so the Kettering Foundation wanted it buried. My publisher, Ballinger Publishing Company, warned the Kettering Foundation of bad publicity, if it suppressed my book. They resolved the controversy by having me not mention Kettering Foundation support. But the Foundation nevertheless insisted it had to have the book royalties. It got them.

Many things have happened since the 1970s. The World Bank and the US Agency for International Development and private foundations have created in the tropics the equivalent of US land grant universities. These international agricultural research institutes are the brain of agricultural industrialization worldwide.

My life also changed. Fear in the Countryside challenged my Greek metaphysics with the reality of our industrialized world. As a result, neither the American academic community nor the government treated me fairly. My colleagues at several universities did not feel comfortable with my critique of industrialization, especially my shedding light on the dreadful ecological and undemocratic effects of giant agriculture. My philosophy blocked any chance for academic tenure. At the US Environmental Protection Agency, where I worked for several years, my commitment to good science got me into trouble.

The rise of food sovereignty
But my personal costs pale into insignificance compared to the violence against peasants. Nevertheless, many have survived. Recently, international scholars have been focusing more attention on them. These social scientists publish their research primarily in the Journal of Peasant Studies, now edited in Holland by a scholar named Saturnino Borras.

The JPS is important. It monitors and studies the most despised but most important people on Earth. It keeps documenting the science, wisdom, and perseverance of peasants, their ecological farming and culture.

For the last two decades, JPS contributors and other rural academic experts have been talking about peasants using the concept of “food sovereignty.” This is a slogan, process, struggle, and battle cry designed to put the value of the peasants as well as their other assets in historical context. But, above all, food sovereignty is an inspiration to both peasants and those who study them. Some academics go further. They see food sovereignty as an alternative to the market economy (Edelman et al 2014).

In a recent volume of the JPS (41, Nos. 5-6 , Routledge, November 2014), food sovereignty academics examine why food sovereignty has become fashionable, indeed indispensable, in our understanding of the peasants. In fact, an international peasant movement, La Via Campesina, has adopted food sovereignty as its political agenda and philosophy.

Even the UN is taking the peasants seriously. In late January 2015, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a draft declaration on the rights of peasants. The UN declared, “Peasants and other people working in rural areas have the right to food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through socially just and ecologically sensitive methods. It entails peoples’ right to participate in decision-making, and to define their own food and agriculture systems.”

This may be rhetorical hyperbole but it may also reflect a subtle change in the international system previously fully behind the violent landlords. Food sovereignty, for once, got its day in court.

In the academic world, the expert who captured the essence of the food sovereignty debate is the Dutch academic Jan Douwe van der Ploeg. He speaks of “peasant-driven agricultural growth and food sovereignty.” He says that in the absence of oppression peasants are the world’s best farmers. Their agricultural productivity, ingenuity, and resilience give them the potential “capacity to establish and secure food sovereignty.” In other words, peasants may be on the verge of getting power. They produce, he says, “(more than) sufficient good food for the growing world population.” They also grow all that food “in a way that is sustainable.”

Time has come for recognizing and rewarding the talents and hard work of peasants. Give them room to breathe.

The international community ought to support peasants rather than industrialized farmers who cause so much damage to our health, democracy, and the natural world. The international community should stop talking about “green revolution,” a code word for more agricultural industrialization of the tropics. Instead, they should talk about agrarian reform or how do we get land to the landless and more land to those who have little.

Support the ecological and productive peasants. Support their organic farm brothers and sisters in the West.

Edelman et al. (2014) Introduction: Critical Perspectives on Food Sovereignty. Journal of Peasant Studies 41: 911-931.

Evaggelos Vallianatos is the author of several books, including “Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA” (with McKay Jenkins, Bloomsbury Press, 2014).

Peasant Sovereignty?
by Evaggelos Vallianatos




Food Crisis: World Hunger, Agribusiness, and the Food Sovereignty Alternative (Part Two) - Climate & Capitalism

Fighting for food sovereignty

The changes imposed by transnational agribusiness and its agencies have not gone unchallenged. One of the most important developments in the past 15 years has been the emergence of La Vía Campesina (Peasant Way), an umbrella body that encompasses more than 120 small farmers’ and peasants’ organizations in 56 countries, ranging from the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil to the National Farmers Union in Canada.

La Vía Campesina initially advanced its program as a challenge to the “World Food Summit,” a 1996 UN-organized conference on global hunger that was attended by official representatives of 185 countries. The participants in that meeting promised (and subsequently did nothing to achieve) the elimination of hunger and malnutrition by guaranteeing “sustainable food security for all people.”[12]

As is typical of such events, the working people who are actually affected were excluded from the discussions. Outside the doors, La Vía Campesina proposed food sovereignty as an alternative to food security. Simple access to food is not enough, they argued: what’s needed is access to land, water, and resources, and the people affected must have the right to know and to decide about food policies. Food is too important to be left to the global market and the manipulations of agribusiness: world hunger can only be ended by re-establishing small and mid-sized family farms as the key elements of food production.[13]

The central demand of the food sovereignty movement is that food should be treated primarily as a source of nutrition for the communities and countries where it is grown. In opposition to free-trade, agroexport policies, it urges a focus on domestic consumption and food self-sufficiency.

Contrary to the assertions of some critics, food sovereignty is not a call for economic isolationism or a return to an idealized rural past. Rather, it is a program for the defense and extension of human rights, for land reform, and for protection of the earth against capitalist ecocide. In addition to calling for food self-sufficiency and strengthening family farms, La Vía Campesina’s original call for food sovereignty included these points:

Guarantee everyone access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity.
Give landless and farming people — especially women — ownership and control of the land they work and return territories to indigenous peoples.
Ensure the care and use of natural resources, especially land, water and seeds. End dependence on chemical inputs, on cash-crop monocultures and intensive, industrialized production.
Oppose WTO, World Bank and IMF policies that facilitate the control of multinational corporations over agriculture. Regulate and tax speculative capital and enforce a strict Code of Conduct on transnational corporations.
End the use of food as a weapon. Stop the displacement, forced urbanization and repression of peasants.
Guarantee peasants and small farmers, and rural women in particular, direct input into formulating agricultural policies at all levels.[14]

La Vía Campesina’s demand for food sovereignty constitutes a powerful agrarian program for the 21st century. Labour and left movements worldwide should give full support to it and to the campaigns of working farmers and peasants for land reform and against the industrialization and globalization of food and farming.

Stop the war on Third World farmers

Scott Pittman of The Permaculture Institute writes about Permaculture Standards and Principles. This document and others from P.I. can be read here:
Definition of PDC Standard.txt
And here:

"This a a follow up on the North American Permaculture Convergence workshop titled “Permaculture Standards and Principles”. We did not complete the agenda I had set forth but I would like to elaborate on what was discussed with the addition of my thoughts on issues not covered in the workshop.

What is a PDC?
A Permaculture Design Certificate Course is the gateway to understanding permaculture design. On completion of this course a certificate is issued to acknowledge that the participant is now a permaculture apprentice. Following the course one is expected to continue their learning process by directly experiencing all of the categories covered in the PDC i.e. becoming pattern literate, understanding the principals and how they relate to human space, methodologies of design, hands on experience in the techniques of gardening, building, site development, and etc.

Who is qualified to teach a PDC?
Traditionally it was taught that whoever was certified through a PDC was qualified to teach the PDC and to engage in professional design. This was established by Bill Mollison in the late seventies in response to his feeling of urgency about the deterioration of the world’s
ecosystems and the break down of human social justice. While the urgency still exists it has become clear to senior teachers of permaculture that a two week course is insufficient time to confer on students the authority to teach or design. In no field that I know of is two weeks an adequate amount of time to turn a novice into a professional.

This tradition still exists with some teachers of permaculture and has lead, in my opinion, to a deterioration of the quality of information being transmitted as well as designs that are not truly representational of permaculture design. Some Permaculture Institutions have established a much higher standard for entering into the teaching and design profession.

The Permaculture Institute of North American, a fledgling organization, has published their standards for teaching and design and it is available on their web site at

The Permaculture Institute established in 1997 by Bill Mollison, Scott Pittman and Arina Pittman have also published their standards at We only recognize those teachers and designers who have completed their Diploma of Permaculture in either teaching or design. This is typically a two year process following the PDC and for teachers a Teacher Training Course. We will not accept most PDC certificates for Diploma application unless they were issued by a teacher with an existing Diploma.

How much time is required for a PDC?
Traditionally the PDC takes two weeks of instruction to cover the curriculum. According to the “Foundation Yearbook of The Permaculture Academy” 1993 edition states that the basic Permaculture Certificate Course is 72 hours to cover the basic curriculum. This time does not cover any experiential learning, design practicum, field trips, videos, talent show, and other extensions beyond the 72 contact hours necessary to cover the curriculum material. I, personally, feel that the original 3 week PDC was a more appropriate time period to cover all the material. I do not believe that anything less than 12 full days of instruction can adequately cover the material necessary for a certificate. The Permaculture Institute does not recognize PDC’s issued for less than 12 days of instruction.

What is the curriculum of the PDC?
The PDC curriculum was officially endorsed by the International Permaculture Convergence in 1994 and most teachers utilize some iteration of this curriculum which has remained pretty much the same since the early 80’s. I have posted the Curriculum for Permaculture Institute

PDC at and Robyn Francis’ curriculum is available for those interested. I do not have other curricula to share. Sometime in the early 90’s Bill Mollison declared that “Permaculture a Designer’s Manual” was the official curriculum for the PDC.

Many teachers do not accept this change and continue to use the old curriculum with those additions that are necessary to stay up to date on new scientific data (ie climate change), and new information on “invisible structures”.

I think it is critical that teachers of the PDC share a curriculum that contains the same material and rigor as the original that was developed by Mollison. There will certainly be some differences depending on the ecosystem one is teaching in and the cultural context. Overall, all PDC certificates should represent a specific body of knowledge presented over a minimum period of time.

Part of the curriculum has to include design exercises based on the land one is teaching on, hands on exercises of various “techniques” practiced by permaculture ie swaling. All courses should include a talent show to wrap up the course. The talent show is the first time many in the course have ever faced a group of their peers and given the gift of themselves; they are opening their hearts to their fellow classmates and teachers and this is part of the community building that has been taking place over the duration of the course. The talent show is as much a part of permaculture as is the “herb spiral”!

What exercises are required for a PDC?
A PDC should have a design practicum as part of the curriculum. Traditionally it was a site design of the property on which the course was held and came at the end of the PDC. This was fully drawn out and presented to the class towards the end of the PDC. Some teachers give several small design assignments based on different environmental influences ie mapping out the water shed and interventions necessary to conserve runoff and put it to beneficial use.

With the development of the extended classes over a few months there is a better opportunity to really develop a design because there is considerable time between each class and the students have the opportunity to get together in design teams and really do the research necessary for a complete design. I have found that without the benefit of good drafting skills that most designs coming out of a residential PDC are poorly done.

There should also be several “hands on” exercises to demonstrate various techniques articulated in the classroom ie pruning, banana circle. Many teachers use the evenings to present more in depth explication of subjects with power point presentations and videos.

What is the price of a PDC?
Most PDCs in the developed world seem to range from US $1,700.00 to 2,100.00 but it really depends on the costs to put on the course. If it is a residential course then 3 meals a day are provided plus snacks and beverage. Rooms or camping facilities add cost to the course.

PDC courses that are not residential tend to be less expensive with fewer expenses.

I believe that the PDC is one of the best instructional bargains around; it is certainly cheaper than a two week yoga retreat! I follow my own ethics when determining the price of my own courses and base it on an annual target of what I need to live and raise my family.

I have never expected to become rich teaching permaculture nor do I think that I should live in poverty.

There are those who teach the PDC who are unapologetic capitalists and charge as much as the market will handle or seek large numbers of students for each course, some have started to use the internet for conducting the PDC on line. I think a lot is lost with on line courses and the Permaculture Institute does not accept the on line PDC as fulfilling the requirement of a PDC for Diploma application.

Who may issue the PDC certificate and under what authority?
Traditionally anyone who completed a PDC was authorized to issue certificates and to declare themselves a permaculture designer. This practice was started by Bill Mollison in the 1980’s and was followed for many years by his students. Currently many teachers around the world are establishing professional associations to inject more professional standards in both teaching and design. The Permaculture Institute was founded for that purpose. We do not recognize any certificates unless the teacher has a Permaculture Diploma. We do not recognize lead teachers of the PDC unless they have a Diploma in education. For more information on our diploma process go to

I believe that those teachers who encourage their students to go out and teach after receiving a PDC certificate are doing a disservice to their students. There are few PDC graduates who have sufficient knowledge or “experience” following a two week course to teach or design.

The ethics of permaculture are the primary guiding influences in all aspects of permaculture and that certainly applies to teaching and design. One has to be thoroughly grounded in Earth sciences, as well as the invisible structures to adequately convey the incredible diversity of permaculture. Permaculture as a whole has suffered very little diminishment of its ethics and principals since its inception but there is a disturbing trend developing of bottom feeding marketeers entering the ranks that predates on peoples good intentions to profit without providing fair value for their clients. There is a clear need for the old aphorism of “buyer beware”. Fortunately this trend is limited and many of the followers of permaculture have started to work to weed out unethical predators, it is part of being a good gardener."

Additional website accompanying this forum:

The permaculturelist website accompanies the Permaculture Mailing List at ibiblio,, and offers a small library of supplemental reading on Permaculture for its subscribers and the public-at-large.

This forum exists for individuals and groups interested in the study and practice of permaculture.
It will be a useful resource for consultants, designers, writers and teachers of this discipline,
conceived and stewarded by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and enhanced by a growing global community, offering their knowledge, skills and experience.

An introduction to permaculture might involve educating and energizing those who want to provide for themselves and live sensibly, sustainably and renewably using systems that regenerate themselves. We should grow as much of our own food as possible and help provide for others seeking high quality nutrition through donation, sales, barter, food hub and consumer and marketing coop. A society's worth can be measured by how well it takes care of those in need and those who can not take care of themselves. This is the essence of the permaculture third ethic.

Natural biointensive gardening and permaculture, activities that generate interest easily and fill a need, go hand in hand and provide a starting point in learning. Permaculture will prove to be a useful resource, offering gardening, homesteading, agroforestry, farming and renewable energy knowledge and methods as a means of achieving good health, self-sufficiency and independence. It can be practiced actively at home, throughout communities and bioregions by offering design tools for the creation and maintenance of ecologically-oriented land use systems comprised of integrated elements for synergy, sustainability, regeneration and enhanced nature-compatible human habitat. Integrating permaculture into one's lifestyle can lead the way to self sufficiency, independence, robust health and well-being, effective medical self-help, personal sovereignty and active participation in all categories of local networking, community building, renewable energy, water conservation and land stewardship projects.

Lawrence London

United States Permaculture Directory

Wikipedia permaculture entry:
"Permaculture is a design system which aims to create sustainable
human habitats by following nature's patterns."

Definitions of Permaculture

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.


Fukuoka san's comment in an interview where Fukuoka san, Bill Mollison and Wes Jackson were present:

"The confusion started when humans ate the Fruit of Knowledge. Adam and Eve were thrown away from the Garden of Eden.
The only way to get back is to throw away the knowledge! Just become foolish like a bird or baby."

Commons Thinking
Commons Thinking
Justin Kenrick The Handbook of Sustainability Literacy, Arran Stibbe.
Supported by University of Brighton, Faculty of Arts: Sustainability Network.

"Commons Thinking: the ability to envisage and enable a viable futur through connected action,"
Justin Kenrick, University of Glasgow, and PEDAL Portobello Transition Town

"What is Commons Thinking?
The Commons are life-sustaining or life-enhancing resources and services that have not
been divided up and assigned a monetary value in the global economy but instead are shared
freely among members of a community or group. They range from the air we breath, pollination
provided by bees, land that provides food for gathering and sharing rather than selling,
to words of comfort given freely and willingly rather than at an hourly rate.
Pitted against the Commons, however, are the forces of Enclosure, which attempt
to appropriate, own and sell resources that were once freely accessible, often breaking
up communities and displacing people in the process. Commons regimes are communities
which resist these forces and meet people's needs primarily or significantly through the
Commons rather than through monetary exchange, existing both in the forests of the Amazon
and in the last remaining tight-knit local communities in cities around the world...
This chapter aims to describe one important skill for rebuilding political, community and
personal resilience."

Click for pdf download of the full chapter 'Commons Thinking' from the
Handbook for Sustainability Literacy

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