Growth of permaculture

David de Vries warning at
Mon Jan 19 04:08:14 EST 1998


Thanks for your contribution. I agree with most of your points - some
exceptions:  Mood of the populace and Market saturation.

>On a broader scale, associated with this is the increasing sense of
>insecurity, uncertainty
>and even fear now afflicting previously affluent sections of middle
>class Australia. The climate, bound up with sustained economic, social,
>technological and ecological change, encourages withdrawl into the
>personal domain and holding on to what money you have to cope with an
>uncertain furture. In such a restrained social environment, there is
>less participation in social issues, less voluntarism and reduced
>expenditure on nonessentials such as permaculture courses.

I can see lots of evidence for a 'sense of insecurity, uncertainty
and even fear" but not for it increasing.  If I did, I would welcome it as
a hopeful shift in consciousness that would have the net opposite effect to
what you are witnessing i.e. decreased participation in social issues.  I
am willing to be convinced that you are correct, but these increases and
decreases are not my observation.

Anyone else in affluent countries like to comment?

The demography of the anxious and the motivated is always changing as
different groups feel the pinch or get motivated.
w.r.t. pc marketing/image, the change in these demographics provides
potential influxes of disaffected/motivated Pc recruits e.g. 18 y.o.,
retirees, mortgagees, farmers, ship builders etc.

>Too Many Teachers, Too Few Students...
>As for David's question about the viability of teachers working in close
>proximity, that viability depends upon demand for permaculture training.
>The situation in northern NSW could serve as an indicator of what
>happens when too many teachers offer similar courses in a region.

>There, with at times up to four permaculture design course providers
>operating within a couple hours drive of each other, (and another two
>providers at Crystal Waters village within four hours drive),
>competition has increased over recent years to such an extent that at
>least one competent provider no longer offers design courses on grounds
>of their unviability.

Getting closer to home and the basis for my enquiries - I have two PDC's
planned for this area (spec. at the Pc Institute) this year.  The number of
PDC's planned this year within 1 hrs drive of each other is 12.  Also a
host of other  adv/intro courses.  Do I look worried?

>In situations of such competition in a limited area, where courses are
>of similar quality and, I would suggest, the market is limited even when
>it draws most of its clientelle from the eastern seaboard capital cities
>and large towns, prices are forced down. Courses attract too few
>participants and only break even, if that. For providers, scheduling
>courses becomes a financially questionable action.

>It's called market saturation and it leads to a shakeout among

Do students cause teachers/courses?

Does demand cause the product?

In a sustainable world, Yes.  People buy what they cannot grow or generate
themselves.  Buying product has a real cost (sweat) and is reserved for a
select few items.

In our $rich world, No. Buying materials in has no tangible down-side.
Products generate demand.  Water on tap generates demand for more.  The
commercial world is acutely aware of this.  No-one _needs_ to drink black
carbonated syrupy drinks, yet, these products have generated their own huge
demand throughout the world.  There is no real call to have medicos and
lawyers at more than 1:5000, yet they are present at 1:100 in our society.
They generate their own business.

Practically, how could Pc teachers cause more Pc students?
In priority.
1) Local Marketing
2) Promote more teachers starting up nearby.
Take the example of 'deep fried battery chicken smothered in salt'
marketing.  Without zero demand in a new territory, the company opens 15
stores in one state and advertises.  When demand has been generated, they
open another 15 stores in the same state and 15 in the next one.  And so on
until they have 50 stores in every state. We have all seen it a hundred
times. Pretty good designers those chook executives - of course they had
the benefit of seeing what doesn't work.  What really struggles is opening
isolated stores dotted across the country and confining advertising to one
magazine called Chicken International.
3) Working cooperatively in delivering courses.
4) Promoting national/international profile of Pc.

Saturation at 500 new permaculturists per year! EEEk

"..I have wondered why, after years of permaculture teaching in
Australia and overseas, permaculture practitioner numbers in this
country can still only be counted in the low thousands."RG AAAgh

I am forced to quote the famous permaphilosopher.

 "'s just that our perspective is subsumed by our immersion in the
subject - we can't see beyond our self-imposed horizon."RG

The Pc growth model at the moment looks like the old fashioned orchard with
4m spacing, a bit of mulch around the base and rank grass in between.
Individual trees (teachers) are isolated and forever worried about
encroachment. I'm suggesting  potential for growth is there and dense
interplanting will provide symbiosis/resilience.


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