“Are not rules telling us what to do, they are guidelines to tell us what to think about when we are deciding what to do” - Earth Charter
When we build a house, the first thing that goes in is the foundation to help make it beautiful and strong. The foundation of permaculture being grounded in ethics firmly in place (asking ourselves should we do something rather than can we do something), next we need to start working on the framework that will hold our house together – The Design Principles.
Below are 2 of the many different versions of the Permaculture Principles written by Bill Mollison (the Father of Permaculture) and David Holmgren (the co-creator of Permaculture).
The Principles of Permaculture from Bill Mollison and Reny Mia Slay (Introduction to Permaculture) are:
1. Relative Location
2. Each Element performs many functions
3. Each Important function is supported by many elements
4. Efficient energy planning
5. Using biological resources
6. Energy cycling
7. Small scale intensive systems
8. Accelerate succession and evolution
10. Edge Effects
11. Attitudinal principles
The Twelve Principles of Permaculture from David Holmgren (Principles and Pathways above and beyond sustainability) are:
1. Observe and interact
2. Catch and store energy
3. Obtain a yield
4. Apply self-regulation and respond to feedback
5. Use and value renewable resources and services
6. Produce no waste
7. Design from pattern to details
8. Integrate rather than segregate
9. Use small and slow solutions
10. Use and value diversity
11. Use the edges and value the marginal
12. Creatively use and respond to change
Like the Ethics, the Design Principles have and are continuing to go through their own evolution as we come to learn and understand more not only of our landscapes and its needs but of ourselves. I particularly like the Earth Charter’s definition of what principles are as they are precisely that – not rules telling us to what to do, but a guide telling us what to think about when we are deciding what to do, a design and decision-making matrix. I once saw a list that Darren Doherty put together for the opening chapter of his new book ‘The Regrarians Handbook’ where he lists 14 different regenerative design and living principles that others have worked from.
As David Holmgren talks about, the design principles are no substitute for experience or potentially technical knowledge it does give you a robust framework to work from as thinking tools when you are deciding what to do.
“Knowledge must be earned, not simply learned” - Unknown.
Below is a PDF from Patrica Allison for another perspective - an enjoyable read
Join us for our 2019 annual one day a week over a 4-month Permaculture Design Course
We need to create a vision. We need to change the climate of our minds. We need to rebuild our inner landscapes. We need a positive, solution-focused way of thinking. We need to be inspired, and we have to act. We need to heal ourselves, our landscapes, our relationship with nature and our culture & communities. We need to learn how to reconnect with nature so we can mimic it in the design of our present and our future.
The Savour Soil Permaculture Design Course is committed to turning you into a better designer. The learning outcomes for this course have been built around the design framework to achieve this goal.
Cost: Early Bird: $700, Full Price: $1000
During this course you will:
• Take part in presentations, slideshows, site tours, exercises, games, facilitated group discussions and other learning strategies.
• See permaculture in action.
• Build skills with hands-on classes, practical activities and implementations.
• Learn from professionals - designers, community organisers who are living the design process, not just teaching about it. We live in the systems we create, continually receiving insights and feedback to deepen our understanding of natural and designed systems.
• Learn about and use an ecological design process, which has you create a vision, learn to comprehend the landscape and use the scale of permanence to catalogue data and develop a design. This process will give you a step by step approach to applying the design principles of permaculture. You will gain confidence to tackle your designs with this process.
• Get the attention you need. More time for questions, conversations, and personal attention from the educators, to dive deeper into a subject or discuss personal projects you are working on
• Design from day one and all through the course rather than just an end exercise.
• Connect with others and build community.• Devote four months to study and live permaculture. We like to take our time going over the course material, with plenty of time for hands-on activities, group process and design, building community and fun.
• Receive continued support after the course.
• Receive discounts on future courses and the possibility of earning credit by referring future permaculture design course students.
For Tickets Click Here
“Are a guide to what is considered right and wrong in the relations among people and between people and the larger living world” - Earth Charter
Permaculture is a design process to meet human needs while enhancing ecosystem health and it is less about what we can do, but more about what we should do.
The permaculture ethics are the foundation of what we do. Much like when we build a house or other structure we need to have a solid foundation in place. If not, then the structure is significantly weakened and can fall easily.
When the father of permaculture - Bill Mollison and the co-creator, David Holmgren first came together at the University of Tasmania and shared their ideas, one of the ideas they had was to look at indigenous cultures that had not only survived but thrived and find what the unifying factor was.
After much research and discussion, they boiled it down to 3 different Ethics - Care of the Earth, Care of People and what is typically sloganized now as Fair share.
Earth Care (Care for the earth) is about exactly that. We only have one planet that we all collectively live on. It is about rebuilding Natures Capital. While the word capital is typically used to define the concept of monetary wealth, in this instance we are referring to the natural or environmental resources so that we not only have enough for a sustainable existence but also add to that balance sheet – enhance our ecosystem.
People Care (Care of People) is about looking after self, kin and community. While most consider ourselves separate from the more extensive system, we are a big part of the system that has evolved in this environment, and we have the choice to help to not only our environment but also each other.
Self-care is not ‘selfish care’ as I heard someone put it once, but more about the care of self. We cannot pour from an empty cup, and we need to understand that we need to look after ourselves if we are to help look after others.
Kin (family or chosen tribe) is about the understanding that we cannot do it alone. We also need to look after family and friends. In the ’70s there was a huge movement for ‘self-sufficiency’, but honestly we cannot do it all ourselves. It is more about self-reliance and community abundance, and that starts with our family or chosen tribe.
The community is the understanding that we are a part of a greater community and that this ‘cultural capital’ is something that can help us celebrate our successes and help shape our character, to help us become more self-supporting and as Aristotle wrote approximately 2300 years ago, celebrating the good life.
Also, there is Third Ethic which is usually sloganized by the phrase Fair share. I sometimes think this is my favourite (if you can have a favourite ethic ;)) as it has gone through some transformations over the last 40 years.
While I know this has frustrated some and has created much debate in some circles in the permaculture community, what inspires me is that fact there is a conversation about it. An evolution of sorts as it shows that we are still learning, evolving and aspiring to be more.
What are we talking about when we are referring to a fair share? It could be said that we are talking about celebrating nature’s abundance while accepting and respecting nature’s limitations.
Celebrating Natures abundance because honestly, it is. NATURE IS ABUNDANT. Who has not walked into a rainforest and not been in awe of the wealth that surrounds us. The trees, the animals and life within the soils.
However, we also need to respect and accept that nature does have limits. If we continue to take and take without the understanding of boundaries, then there will be nothing left for that future growth – for future generations.
While traditionally there are only three ethics that are used and talked about, I like to talk about a couple of others that help guide me not only in my life but also when I do design work.
While these are not strictly ‘ethics’ I think that they are just as important to consider.
Transition. While there is some talk of this, mainly around the transition initiative, what I am referring to is that fact we need to understand that it will take time, that we are not going from zero to a sustainable existence overnight. We need to consider appropriate technology to help create our systems and the time frame that is required to have it happen. Even a tree that we plant on our property can take 3 to 5 years before we start obtaining a yield from it.
Also, lastly is the potential of Future Care. I was first introduced to the term ‘future care’ from someone who was attending Dave Jacke’s Forest Garden Design Intensive with me three years ago. She was telling me that the idea came from an ongoing discussion in the USA about the meaning of ‘Fair Share’.
Future care was about the need to not only look at closed looped systems and how the surplus needs to be distributed between the first two ethics but that we need to consider if our designs are caring for the future, not just now but the seven generations – regenerative and looking toward legacy.
The Ethics in Permaculture mean different things to different people, but if we want to make real change we need to consider these in the foundations of our decision-making processes, as a guide to asking ourselves are we caring for the earth, caring for people and caring for the future.
Click on the picture link below to the free download from David Holmgren with the art work and links from permacultureprinciples.com
"The word permaculture was coined by Bill Mollison and myself (David Holmgren) in the mid-1970’s to describe an integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man. A more current definition of permaculture, which reflects the expansion of focus implicit in Permaculture One, is ‘Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs.’ People, their buildings and the ways in which they organise themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture." - David Holmgren (co-creator of Permaculture)
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labour; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system." - Bill Mollison
The big question. What is Permaculture. One of the consistent responses to this question in the courses that I help facilitate is, "How long is a piece of string?"
Permaculture over time has had many definitions, each showing the unique character of the people who have applied it in their own context. From its original definition of a PERMAnent agriCULTURE to the evolution to one of a PERMAnent CULTURE.
Many different practitioners have come up with their own definitions -
"Permaculture is a way of life which shows us how to make the most of our resources by minimising waste and maximising potential. Conscious design of a lifestyle which is highly productive and does not cause environmental damage. Meeting our basic needs and still leaving the earth richer than we found it." - Graham Bell
"Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people — providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way." - Geoff Lawton
Permaculture is about "...saving the planet and living to be a hundred, while throwing very impressive dinner parties and organising other creatures to do most of the work." - Linda Woodrow
"Permaculture has, in many people's minds, come to represent a sustainable, organic, home vegetable garden." - Rosemary Morrow
I even tried to come up with my own at one point many years ago.
"Permaculture is a design framework for the building of resilient, regenerative and abundant, human-supporting landscapes, both physical (Earth care) and hidden (People care), that mirror natural ecosystems through sharing of the abundance (Fair share). By linking the different parts of each system in ecologically sensible ways, permaculture achieves high yields for low energy inputs while actually building fertility over successive seasons..
Permaculture was started through the learning edge between Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the seventies. Since then, it has become a global network providing design solutions for every climate, landscape and culture imaginable.
Permaculture is a way of bringing together in a sensible system: ourselves and our communities, with whatever piece of land or space we are tending. It can be as small as a window with sprouts or as large as a farm or a bioregion. It can be in the city, the suburbs or in the country.
Permaculture addresses the way we live on this planet in a graceful and healthy way, respecting the plants and animals around us, and leaving the biosphere in a more productive and healthy state than we found it." - Michael Wardle
I was very excited when I finally finished writing it. Emotive. And those I had shown it to thought it was awesome and needed to share it. It even brought a tear to my eye.
Unfortunately for me, there was something missing in it. It was just not 'me'.
It was at this point that I was introduced to the writings of Rafter Sass Fergusson.
In 2012 Rafter engineered a survey which was sent to 800 permaculturists around the world of which 698 responses where returned.
From this survey Rafter collated the results and from the responses
84% said it was a set of farming and gardening practices:
91.6% said it was social movement
95.9% said it was a philosophy or worldview
71.4% said it was a profession
99.4% said it was a framework for design and planning
With this in mind the definition he came up with was that Permaculture was
"a Design process to meet human needs while enhancing ecosystem health."
This really resonated with me... short... sharp... simple... not wordy at all.
It is a design process where rather than asking can we do something, it asks should we do something. It is a process where we can design our landscapes to be resilient and abundant while regenerating the environment around us... A legacy
Above all for me though Permaculture is a celebration of life.
Click on the link below for more information on Permaculture from David Holmgren in his free PDF e-book "Essence of Permaculture" from the webpage of permacultureprinciples.com
An article written in the Gatton Star about the School sustainability program I work on for many years
by FRANCIS WITSENHUYSEN
29th Mar 2016 2:30 PM
ST MARY’S School sustainability garden has become a special place students can go to escape the craziness of the school yard.
The garden was started after the 2013 floods when the school received some funding towards the mental health rehabilitation of the students.
A Holistic orchard, fairy garden, veggie patch, chicken pen and native bees make up the garden, with room for more installations to be added.
Students and 2016 sustainability gardening committee member, James, said his favourite part of the garden was the chook pen.
"I get to feed the chickens, collect their eggs and learn about the benefits of compost," he said.
"But the most important thing I’ve learnt in the garden, is to always water the plants.
"I like to come down here when I have a headache. It’s nice because its quieter and cooler.”
St Mary’s School Officer, Michael Wardle, helped to get the garden going three years ago.
"It’s a place for the kids, made by the kids," he said.
"The students own it from the ground up.
“And they get hands-on, in the dirt while learning about where there food comes from.”
Michael said the garden was a good place for kids who are having issues to come down and have space and reflection time.
"I work with some kids who are having troubles in the class room so I bring them out here and do some practical things and relate it what they are doing in class. That way they have some hands on learning," he said.
"This is a space where those kids can come to play and express themselves without interruptions."
Michael said the garden also helps the school to be more sustainable
"We have processing tools too so all of our organic waste ends up here,” he said.
“And 60 per cent of what people use is organic waste, so the school has reduced its waste by 60 per cent and growing veggies at the end of it.
Mr Wardle said typically there would be between 30-50 students down in the garden, of a lunch-time.
"Savour Soils was recommended to us by a friend who had heard we had moved. As busy people, with only slightly ‘green’ thumbs, we were keen to engage a consultant who could provide a property-specific report, complete with local knowledge – so that we wouldn’t be wasting time, energy and money planting the wrong plants in the wrong places.
When we contacted Michael he outlined the three levels of consultancy services he provided. As we had settled on a large rural residential lot and wanted to plan our long term future there, we engaged Michael on a full consultation basis so that we could commence the permaculture design, with an understanding that a number of elements take three to five years to implement.
Michael visited us on a number of occasions, taking observations of the property, our lifestyle, and asking many questions. Most importantly, Michael listened to our dreams and goals and also took into account our limitations, particularly as we are time-poor, and provided a report that will help us create a garden that will feed our family and look after itself in an energy efficient way.
So the overall outcome was a property report that will help us achieve our goals and break them down so they are not as overwhelming. Michael’s knowledge has provided us with a 25 year plan of growing our own food, educating our children and enjoying our property. He has been so approachable and eager to answer our questions and design our garden our way. We wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Savour Soils for anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding of permaculture, or anyone seeking holistic advice on how best to feed their own family from their garden." - Megan and Jacob
Did you know we also do Land Design? Using our unique approach, adapted over time we will
Below is what we offer for those interested in taking their ideas further along the permaculture journey
Verbal Design Consult
First is a verbal, little research and no report, consult where I come to your site, talk to you and any others living at the site, asking a few questions, to discuss your time, energy and financial budgets, what you would like out of the site (e.g., how much and what kinds of food) and what elements you would like included in the design then we tour the site talking about various options - $300 (approx.. 3 hours onsite with 1 hour offsite research)
Concept Design Consult
Second option is the same but with research, 30 page report and doing a concept design (rough outline), after which we sit down and look at the report and again walk around the property talking about the design.. Depending on how extensive the concept and size of the block - approx. $700 (subject to scope) (approx..10 hours )
Working Plan Design Consult
The Working Plan design which includes report, concept and a much more detailed design, and again walk around the property talking about the design.. Again depending on size of block, research and level of detail - approx $1250 (subject to scope). (approx.. 50 hours)
Adaptive Design Consult
The Adaptive Design Consult is where we truly embrace the design principle 'Creatively use and respond to change' and over the course of several years we design and create your design on the ground suited to your context. We are engaged for a period of 3 years and over that time we come and work with you to help fulfill your dream of a flexible permaculture design. - approx $4500 over 3 years
An article written in the Gatton Star about the seed library that we help start with our local Library
by FRANCIS WITSENHUYSEN 2nd May 2018 1:21 PM
FROM little things, big things grow.
Did you know there is a seed library where you can borrow seeds just like books?
Any member of Lockyer Valley Libraries can borrow up to two packets of donated seeds to take home and grow. Then as the plants begin to produce seeds, members can save the seeds and bring them back to the seed library. The range of seeds available include herbs like basil, coriander and sage as well as vegetables like pumpkins and capsicums. There are also some flowers including marigold and cone flowers.
Lockyer Valley Regional Councillor Michael Hagan said the seed library encouraged community spirit and sharing.
"So far, more than 280 packets of seeds have been loaned,” Cr Hagan said.
"It's really growing in popularity.”
The seed library was started in January 2017, when Michael Wardle of Savour Soil Permaculture and Nicole Kilah from Lockyer Libraries brought the concept into fruition.
"While the idea of a seed library has been around for awhile, it's the first of its kind in the region,” Mr Wardle said
"The more a seed is germinated in an area, over successive generations like this, the more adapted it becomes to that particular region.”
"The seed library is important because it builds community resilience, and it's helping to support the community in growing their own food.”
He said to keep the service flourishing, more seed donations were always welcome.
To donate, write your name and the seed variety on an envelope or plastic bag and drop the seeds into either the Gatton or Laidley libraries.
Bioponics, Aquaponics, Hydroponics
By Michael Wardle
The journey to Bioponics has been a long and interesting one for me spanning 15 years.
In what seemed almost a lifetime ago I was interested in the idea of hydroponics as a way that a huge volume of food could be grown in a small space to help feed the world. While we never quite achieved the goal of feeding the world, we did however manage to grow a large quantity for ourselves. While this may have sounded like a good thing, there was always something that bothered me with Hydroponics in that an industrial chemical was given to the water as a means to provide nutrient to the plants. To cut a long story short, there was no life in the system at all and that the addition of the hydroponic mixture to the water over time meant that the salt build up in the same waters would have to be flushed out at least once a month, but those same waters and salt levels meant that the water could not be used in the garden or elsewhere. Needless to say to this showed the system was not a closed looped one and that there was a huge waste and nutrient density issue.
Feeling unhappy about the level of investment I had put into something that ultimately was not what we were looking for lead me to delve further into the possibilities and this lead me to Aquaponics. My first encounter with aquaponics was a conversation I had with my then father in law who was concerned with the future. In his own words, he was getting older and he worried about the future for his family. We lived in an area that had little rainfall due to being in a rain shadow and we were looking at adding tour food security. During the course of that conversation he handed me a copy of the local ‘big’ paper (The courier mail) which that week and published an article about someone called Murray Hallam who was working on something called aquaponics. The combination of growing fish and vegetables in a loop system providing both protein and greens using a minimum of water.
While we both talked about going to one of Murrays courses, we never got around to it. I did however manage to attend a couple of other courses and did start to spend time researching and playing around with various ideas and concepts.
We eventually ended up moving from the property we had to our current abode. While the distance between to 2 was not far all the infrastructure for the old system was left behind as we were not certain if we would continue the journey with aquaponics. A couple of years later I finally met Rob from Robs aquaponics and back yard farm which re-sparked my interest in aquaponics and I invited him to come run a workshop. After some thought he agreed, but was uncertain as he had never run a workshop before and would appreciate my help. We built a new system here and this lead to the running of two workshop over a couple of years.
Oddly enough, this is when I started to wonder about aquaponics. Due to the nature of what I do with consults and education, there are times when I am not here and while I did leave instructions with my children on what needed to be done with the predictable “yes Dad” that goes with it, I was finding upon my return that while the fish had been fed there were other things that were not done which lead to more work than what I was prepared to do.
For any who have done a workshop with me or had me come to consult, there is one thing I always say “Limitations set design”
Looking at the limitations of aquaponics and the time frame I had available to manage the system showed that while it is a brilliant way of being able to grow your fish and vegetables together, for me there was always buffering issues, the need to check the PH morning and night (hard when I was not here) the constant purchase of food (I have heard of people using black soldier fly larvae and mealy worms to feed their fish, but I found the fish never took to them for long and again I needed to be here to manage yet another level of complexity to the system), weighing the fish to make sure there only got what they needed so that there was not a nutrient build up in the system etc etc etc. While I was home all the time, it was not an issue, but when I went away then it became one.
This leads me back to before I received my fish for the current system. There was a delay in the fish arriving and rather than wait I started cycling my system with different brews that I had that was used in other areas of my design here at home. It took 4 months for the fish to arrive (honestly I had given up) finally and in a subsequent conversation with Rob I mentioned what I was doing, and he laughed and said I should TM that. (A quick google search killed that idea as I discovered it was not a new one – Thanks Rob ;))
I spent the next 3 year looking at the various way of closing the loop here at home, and as a baseline, I looked at soil and its mineral and nutrient cycling to give me some guide into how it might work, so I experimented with different combinations.
While you can have fish, oysters or redclaw etc. in your Bioponics system, you do not have to make it work. I have found that since switching to this particular model that the growth rate may be slightly less than aquaponics, it is still healthy and lush (many people have commented on the taste and quality of the parsley)
Recently we held our first workshop on Bioponics. While it was not our intention to workshop it, I was teaching at an urban farming workshop when I first started experimenting with it, and I happen to mention that I was. One of the participants at that urban farming workshop spent the next 3 years asking me to run a seminar on it and I finally ‘caved in’ and did so. It was terrific, and with a full house, we spent the day in a hands-on environment so that people could not only learn about it but have the confidence to go home and do it themselves. I have been happy to hear that many did so even to the point of stopping into local hardware stores to pick up what they needed on their way home on the day of the workshop itself.
"The workshop was fabulous. So much information. Loved the hands on as you remember it better and it makes the process so much easier" - Workshop Participant
I have since learned others are now starting to look at the possibilities of Bioponics and have been experimenting with it for the last 6 months, and I can see others running workshops or videos soon. I love the evolution of the process and look forward to pushing the limits of it further I the future
About the Author
Michael began his permaculture journey 25 years ago when he first picked up a copy of Permaculture One and the Introduction to Permaculture.
He has applied the ethics and principles of permaculture to his personal life and is now enjoying the wonderful opportunities of being able to apply them in his workplace and community. He enjoys learning about the many different facets of permaculture and design. Through his learning, he has also come to love teaching. He has completed 4 PDC's, Permaculture Teacher Training with Rosemary Morrow and Nick Ritar. Dynamic groups Dynamic learning with Robin Clayfield, he has also completed the Advanced Permaculture Principle workshop with David Holmgren and the Advanced Permaculture Design with Dan Palmer, Edible Forest Garden Design Intensive with Dave Jacke and the REXonline with Darren Doherty and many others.
He hopes to be as inspirational and effective as his teachers. He continues to run workshops, designs and consults through his own business - Savour Soil Permaculture and continues his learning journey to advance his knowledge and to increase the value he provides in his teaching, projects and consultations.
Permaculture, Organisation, Leadership, Succession
Written by Michael Wardle
What is successional leadership? It is a concept that where might be able to use when designing our social systems especially with regards to our networks and organisations. Perhaps even a metric of success of these same organisations.
This year, 2018 has been a thought-provoking year with numerous different groups and community gardens. While not being actively involved in them myself this year (for the first time in many years) it gave me the opportunity to observe the different interactions. With the AGM’s falling in September this year, there seemed to be a great ‘bloodletting’ with many committees being voted out with some hostility or just people not willing to step up into vacant positions and some of these organisations closing down.
This got me thinking that while we talk about designing our landscapes using succession as our guide, how often do people think of incorporating the same idea into out associations and organisations?
While I am far from being an expert in the subject, it just seems that even though we talk about cooperation rather than competition, the competitive aspect appears to be so ingrained that we as a species still act on it, yet we have the best of intentions. Every new committee feels the need to do better than the last –More events, raise more money, and have more of an online presence – whatever the goal that is set at the start of their tenure. Moreover, we tend to judge the success of the same committees with the same brush – How many new members, how much money was raised, how many more events were facilitated during the last year etc.
Dave Jacke talks in his book about ‘Edible Forest Garden’ as one of the defining principles of “shifting the burden to that of the intervenor” where if you intervene in a system you bear the responsibility of maintaining that system or restoring its functional integrity.
What if we looked at our social systems in the same way and designed them with succession in mind. Where we are not only looking at advancing the cause, plan or structure of the organization, but creating it so that people are willing and eager to move into the various roles allowing for a smooth transition and celebrating not only that as a metric of success but also acknowledge the contributions of those that have come before, while building for the future leadership in those same roles.
We can make things as easy or as hard as we like and as Allan Savory talks about, most of the problems we have today come from someone, somewhere making a decision that turned out not to be the most positive for our futures.
Just some of the rambling thoughts that have been going through my head lately. I would love to hear your thoughts?
He began his permaculture journey 25 years ago when he first picked up a copy of Permaculture One and the Introduction to Permaculture.