[permaculture] FRI Aug 1 / Sustainable World Radio Interview with English Urban Permaculturist/Author Graham Burnett

Wesley Roe and Santa Barbara Permaculture Network lakinroe at silcom.com
Thu Jul 31 00:38:20 EDT 2008

Friday, Aug 1, 9-10am Sustainable World Radio on 
KCSB 91.9 FM and streaming live on www.kcsb.org. 
Also found on  www.sustainableworldradio.com, or 
www.radio4all.net later in the month

Join Jill Cloutier of Sustainable World Radio for 
an interview  with English Urban 
Permaculturist/Author Graham Burnett 
www.grahamburnett.net He is an experienced 
permaculture practitioner, designer and teacher. 
Burnett is a member of the Council of Management 
of the Permaculture Association (Britain), and 
holds the Diploma in Permaculture Design (Dip 
Perm Des). Graham is self published author of 
Permaculture, a Beginners Guide and other books listed below.
Also joining the interview will be Wesley Roe of 
Santa Barbara Permaculture Network

Graham Burnett has over 20 years experience in 
working with adults with learning disabilities, 
including in  horticultural settings, and has 
designed a number of therapuetic and productive 
landscapes using permaculture and forest 
gardening principles. He has tended allotments 
since 1984, and is a qualified organic gardener 
and an active member of his 
association and the 
<http://www.seeog.org.uk/>South East Organic Gardeners Group


Graham Burnett is involved with the Transition 
Town Westcliff, an exploration of how the people 
of Westcliff on Sea and the surrounding area can 
prepare for a carbon constrained, energy lean 
world. TTW is a community-led initiative which is 
working towards the creation of an 
Descent Action Plan for the town. The thinking 
behind TTW is simply that a town using much less 
energy and resources than we presently consume 
could, if properly planned for and designed, be 
more resilient, more abundant and more pleasurable than the present.


-Zone Zero Zero permaculture design notes by  GRAHAM BURNETT

"You start with your nose, then your hands, your 
back door, your doorstep. You get all that right, 
then everything is right. If all that's wrong, nothing can ever be right"

-Bill Mollison

A small booklet exploring the role of the 
'personal' in permaculture design systems. The 
interconnected permaculture ethics of earthcare 
and peoplecare imply that wholeness and earth 
repair is not just about the wider ‘out there’ of 
our gardens, farms, forests and oceans, but is 
just as importantly to do with the ‘ecology of 
the self’. Paying attention to our own physical, 
mental, emotional and spiritual needs and 
development is fundamental to good 'Zone Zero 
Zero' design. Just as peace is not simply the 
absence of war, so too health is not just about 
being free from disease. Therefore self-care - 
setting up holistic mind and body systems in 
order to avoid sickness, depression, stress and 
burn-out - is a vital part of enhancing 
well-being and developing personal effectiveness.

Graham has written, illustrated and 
self-published a number of books and pamphlets 
through Spiralseed, a small business enterprise 
dedicated to  promoting permaculture and 
earthright living using illustration, literature 
and other media. Titles include;
<http://spiralseed.co.uk/flyer/>Permaculture, a Beginners Guide
<http://www.spiralseed.co.uk/wellfed>Well Fed, Not An Animal Dead
<http://www.spiralseed.co.uk/ecoself/>Towards An 
Ecology of the Self - Zone Zero Zero Permaculture Design Notes
Healthy, Caring and Sharing - a Book For Young Green Vegans
a collection of articles, artwork, conversations 
and songs prefaced by Penny Rimbaud of 
He is currently writing a book for Permanent 
Publications as well as working on a book of 'Thinking Tools' for Spiralseed.

Lifestyle Gardening? No Thanks! by Graham Burnett

The following article was written as the first of 
a series of forthcoming 'gardening columns' for 
'The Idler' magazine <http://www.idler.co.uk/>www.idler.co.uk

Friends and colleagues are often surprised by my 
attitude towards Reality TV gardening shows- for 
aren’t they are encouraging the cathode-ray 
addled masses to get outdoors, get their hands 
dirty and get growing- surely no bad thing? Well 
I’m afraid I’m unconvinced. Basically they are 
just another variation on the endless slew of 
‘makeover’ programs that tell us what to eat, 
what to wear and how to live. You know the kind 
of thing- invariably they feature an host of 
celebrities gurning into the camera whilst they 
slap down the decking, exotic ornamentals and 
(ahem) 'water features' as a 'surprise' for some 
gormless householder while they'd just popped 
down the shop for a packet of fags or something. 
If these punters couldn't keep their garden in 
order when it was just a patch of lawn with a 
rabbit hutch and a kid’s tricycle on it, how do 
they hope to cope once its converted into a high 
maintenance, Corporate Garden Centre-dependant 
mini-version of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon???

My vision of the urban garden is a place where we 
can begin to develop self-reliance, growing 
useful crops such as fruit, vegetables and herbs 
by implementing permaculture techniques and 
methods. The difference between the permaculture 
garden and its more 'conventional' counterpart is 
basically to do with design- or at least, an 
approach towards design. Of course, 'design' is 
very much addressed by the ‘lifestyle’ shows. 
However this tends to be focused purely in terms 
of aesthetics and fashion- what colours and 
shapes go well together this year, where best to 
place that decking or water feature to impress 
the neighbours, how to avoid those plants and 
flowers that are just so passé... It’s also an 
exclusive and top-down approach. We the viewers, 
as well as their clients in TV land, simply sit 
back and gawp as open mouthed passive consumers 
whilst ‘The Experts’ dazzle us with their skills, knowledge and witty banter.

Permaculture design on the other hand is more 
about building up a thorough and intimate 
understanding of both your garden (its aspect, 
soil type, wind and rainfall patterns, what 
plants or creatures share it with you, etc) and 
what you actually want from it. Therefore my 
first piece of practical advice to any gardener 
that would prefer to work with rather than 
against nature is simply to Slow Down- "Don’t 
just do something- sit there". Many 
permaculturists recommend a non-intervening 
observation period of at least twelve months. In 
reality this isn't always practical as we usually 
need (or want!) to obtain some kind of a yield 
before this, and you might well fancy cultivating 
at least part of your plot in order to get in a 
few crops of spuds, onions, carrots, etc. However 
the 'leave it a year' rule is certainly good 
advice to follow before making any changes that 
may be difficult to reverse, such as any major 
landscaping, pond creation, tree and hedge 
planting or building permanent structures like sheds and greenhouses.

By practising ‘thoughtful inaction’ rather than 
the frantic activity promoted by the makeover 
shows you will gain a good solid grounding 
regarding the relationship between you, your 
garden, it’s limitations and it’s assets. In the 
long term such insights will be essential if you 
are to develop a truly sustainable and integrated 
landscape that can produce food, medicines, seeds 
(for propagation or sharing out with others- make 
your plot a community hub!), craft and building 
materials, fibres, dyes, and much more.

This certainly isn't to say that productive 
landscapes should be about visually dull 
utilitarianism. Form follows function, and all 
the permaculture gardens I've ever seen are 
places of great beauty. But this kind of beauty 
flows from the relationships to be found in 
natural eco-systems, at once elegant in their 
simplicity, yet at the same time diverse in their 
complexity. Furthermore, a well-designed 
permaculture garden has many other 'uses' beyond 
simply 'growing stuff'- play area (for kids or 
), spiritual retreat, open-air art 
gallery, wildlife sanctuary, tree nursery, 
nattering with the neighbours, yoga and mediation 
space, bio-diversity storehouse or somewhere to dry your washing.

Above all, the permaculture garden should be 
somewhere for relaxation and enjoyment, not yet 
another place to get hung up about whether or not 
you are ‘doing it right’ or meeting others’ 
expectations. For me, there's nothing like our 
small urban garden on a summer's afternoon. The 
bushes and trees are literally dripping with 
grapes, cherries, apples, loganberries, 
blackcurrants, strawberries and raspberries, 
whilst burnet, sorrel, rocket, mints, Welsh and 
tree onions, chives, lovage, lettuces, day 
lilies, marigolds, poppies and other edible 
leaves and flowers fill the salad beds. Buddleia 
and evening primroses scent the warm air and 
frogs and newts plop into the pond. Blue tits 
search the trees for bugs whilst starlings polish 
off the cherries that are out of human reach. 
Cuban or dub grooves drift from the open kitchen 
window and I'm under the shade of the quince tree 
in a deck chair with a case of fine local beer 
and a good book- truly the embodiment of 'the 
designer as a recliner’, and much better than watching the telly any day

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