[permaculture] Bruce Hedge reviews the past 25 years of permaculture with joint founder David Holmgren,
Wesley Roe and Marjorie Lakin Erickson
lakinroe at silcom.com
Sun Jul 17 03:29:08 EDT 2005
In this issue Bruce reviews the past 25 years of permaculture with joint
founder David Holmgren,
and begins with his first encounter with the man.
by Bruce Hedge
I first met David Holmgren at the Bredbo Down To Earth Confest in late
1977. It was the early, heady, exciting days of permaculture. Bill
Mollisons irrepressible charisma and enthusiasm had drawn us to this stark
delinquent landscape on the Murrumbidgee River just south of Canberra. Wed
all come to hear the great man entertain us and tell us tall tales and true
about this new and wonderful way of self sufficiency in uncertain times.
Bill was the consummate storyteller and we were all enthralled in his
presence. During a break in the frenzied proceedings, I asked Bill a
question about something (I cant remember what . . .) and he said to me
oh ... youd better ask David Holmgren about that
gesturing to a young,
shy man nearby. Over the following 27 years Ive learned of that young
mans wisdom, determination, and willingness to walk the walk and talk the
talk in his pursuit of a lifestyle which leaves a very light footprint
indeed on this fragile planet.
I chatted recently to David at Melliodora, his model permaculture site in
Hepburn, Central Victoria. I asked him whether he had any idea in 1977
about the direction that their permaculture concept would take. I saw the
permaculture concept but I didnt envisage the movement itself, he said.
Davids attitude has shifted over the decades from ambivalence to
acceptance of one of the most progressive forces for positive change
happening in the world today, effectively connecting everything we need to
change all at once rather than just one piece. We have to change every
aspect of the way we use natural resources and the way we live. Initially I
felt uneasy about being a role model because people may copy things which
are inappropriate to their own situations they might take things out of
context everything is always more complex
but now I tend to accept
those things as part of the process.
Some of the people who now provide permaculture services have visited us
here at Melliodora, David continued.
Theyve seen that its important to experiment on yourself first. If
youre proposing that people live differently, then the first test is can
you do it yourself? This is a funny sort of challenge because some of the
aspects of the permaculture lifestyle initially swim against the tide. For
instance, the idea of growing your own food. Foods the cheapest its been
in human history relative to wages. When someone has skills that are in
demand and are highly paid, it sometimes doesnt make sense to spend a lot
of time and effort to learn to grow a lot of your own food. But there are
many other reasons to grow food. If we move to a changed economic and
environmental situation, food will not be cheap. Then we have to ask how
do we skill up society? We need a lot of working models in different
situations and you cant just switch those models on overnight.
Davids partner Su Dennett is committed to the same values, but brings
different skills to the partnership. David says she has challenged him to
be even more radical in his behaviour. For example, living simply with
whats in the cupboard or garden, or her passion about the family changing
over to the outside compost toilet. In fact, David, Su and Oliver have
actually closed down their conventional flush toilet inside the house. Part
of this comes from Su being the animal person, whereas David is the
plant person. Su sees the value of animal and human compost and the
stupidity of flushing good nutrients away with water. She has a close
relationship with her animals, going out every morning to milk the goats.
In any self-reliant household, unless its five to ten people, there are
never enough skills to do everything efficiently, says David.
We always come up against economies of scale. Is it worth baking your own
bread or milking an animal? Sometimes I have to ask other people to do work
I really love doing. Work such as building a shed, because I have to sit at
a desk running my consultancy. Even though we grow our own firewood but
dont use much in our energy-efficient house, cutting it looms as an ever
bigger task each year, especially as we get older. Im now finding the
culture change from my previous substantial self-reliance to a delegating
role for some tasks to be very interesting. Were all a bit pigheaded about
how we want particular things done and we have to learn to let go a little.
I asked David who had influenced him most over the years and he said hed
love to have met Howard Odum, PA Yeomans and EF Schumacher. David was
actually taught at Hobarts College of Advanced Education by one of
Schumachers closest colleagues, George McRobie, while he was forming his
early ideas of permaculture.
David has recently embraced modern technology to update his 1995 book on
Melliodora into an e-book available on one CD. All the original black and
white photos are now in colour and Davids son Oliver has created many
virtual tours of this remarkable property. Log on to www.holmgren.com.au
for more information. Despite the e-book, he remains slightly sceptical
about computers in the very long term of our energy descent. If your seed
bank cant be accessed without your computer then thats a serious problem.
Apart from Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, many people were responsible
for promoting permaculture in the early days. One person in particular made
a huge contribution. Terry White from Maryborough,Victoria produced the
Permaculture Quarterly Journal for ten years. Hundreds of articles
inspired us all. Terry then turned his considerable expertise to areas like
salinity control and energy efficiency. David and Terry have known each
other for 25 years. Recently they were chatting and found out that they
were born 10 years apart. Exactly. To the day.
Earth Garden Magazine
is Australias original journal of sustainable living and alternatives.
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David Holmgren West Coast Workshops and Talks USA Aug/Sept 2005
DAVID HOLMGREN Co-orginator of Permaculture only Talk/Workshop in Southern
PERMACULTURE IN THE 21 ST CENTURY LECTURE WITH DAVID HOLMGREN ,SANTA BARBARA CA
Tues Aug 2 2005 7PM $15
Santa Barbara City College East Campus
Tues Aug 2 ALL DAY WORKSHOP AT SB City College East Campus 721 Cliff Drive
Santa Barbara Campus Center
Morning 9-1 PM DAVID HOLMGREN PERMACULTURE SOLUTIONS AROUND THE WORLD
Afternoon Session 2-5PM
Bill Roley Workshop: Watersheds a Permaculture Perspective ,
Larry Santoyo Workshop:Urban Permaculture
Doug Richardson (Director Environmental Horticulture) Workshop:
Restorations Project and the SB Hort. Garden
Special Guest Don Sarich CEO Permaculture Credit Union and Scott Pittman
Permaculture Designer/Teacher New Mexico
COST $80 (STUDENTS $60 )
To Register send check to Santa Barbara Permaculture Network 312 E Sola St
#1 Santa Barbara Ca 93101
For more info sbpcnet at silcom.com 805-962-2571 www.sbpermaculture.org
COSPONSOR/FUNDRAISER fo Santa Barbara Permaculture Network ,Permaculture
Credit Union (www.pcuonline.org), SBCC Environmental Horticulture Dept. and
SBCC Student Sustainability Coalition (www.biosbcc.net)
David Holmgren , co-originator with Bill Mollison of the Permaculture
concept, is an innovative environmental design consultant based in Hepburn
Springs in Central Victoria ,Australia. where he maintains one of
Australia's best-known permaculture sites. His latest book , Permaculture
Principles& Pathways Beyond Sustainability is a distillation of life lived
by the principles of Permaculture. To see his writings and designs visited
August 6 - 9, 2005 4-Day Workshop with David Holmgren Petaluma, California
Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), Petaluma, California.
Cost $450 not including lunch,
Double occupancy dorm style accommodation $300 per person for three nights
includes 3 delicious organic meals.
Single occupancy is $360 for three nights includes 3 delicious organic meals.
Download the registration form (PDF file) and return it with a check made
payable to Permaculture Institute to:
Permaculture Institute of Northern California, P.O. Box 341, Point Reyes
Station, CA 94956
Contact: 415·663·9090 voicemail or info at permacultureinstitute.com
David Holmgren in Portland Oregon
Aug 13 -17 Sat-Wed FIVE DAY PERMACULTURE WORKSHOP with Toby Hemenway and
David Holmgren $295
August 16 -17, Tues- Wed Advanced Workshop on Permaculture Ethics and
Principles with David Holmgren.$140
Three day introductory workshop August 13-15 with Toby Hemenway is $180.
TO REGISTER, Permaculture Solutions, LLC3527 NE 15th, PMB # 101Portland, OR
August 15, 7:00 p.m. Mon David Holmgren Talk at Pacific Crest Community
School, NE 29th and Davis $10.
Contact info at portlandpermaculture.com, 503.293.8004
David Holmgren in Washington State
Aug 19-21 Bellingham WA Northwest Herbal Faire
Aug 23 Olympia WA , Permaculture Solutions for the World
Aug 27-28 Two Day Workshop at TwisP, $130 both days , $70 one day
27 Permaculture Principles 28 Ecosystem Restoration
Aug 30-Sept 1, 3 day Advanced Course Permaculture Design Theory and
Principles Seattle $175
Contact Washington/ Oregon Friends of the Trees friendsofthetrees at yahoo.com
More information about the permaculture