Tag Archives | Pioneers

Vale Vries Gravestein

Vries Gravestein speaking in a panel discussion APC9 March 2008 Sydney (with Bill Mollison and John Archer)

Vries Gravestein speaking in a panel discussion APC9 March 2008 Sydney (with Bill Mollison and John Archer)

As I have been working alone in the garden over these last few days I have been thinking about Vries Gravestein as an elder of the Australian permaculture movement at the same time that the nation is reflecting on the passing of another big man, Gough Whitlam. While comparisons between the two might be trite, in my garden solitude the emotions about the passing of influential elders did blend.

Most of the permaculture practitioners, activists and teachers I met in the first decade of the permaculture movement were my own (baby boomer) peers with our shared experience of affluence and social stability (in the shadow of nuclear and environmental threats). Vries was one of the first who was from Bill Mollison’s generation raised in the deprivations of the Depression and WWII. Along with that valuable experience to inform and influence younger students, Vries’ solid background in agricultural education and organics maintained the agriculture side of permaculture that sometimes can get lost in the broad church of permaculture.

His passionate belief that permaculture could contribute to transformation of not only our human settlements but also Australia’s  dryland cropping and pastoral landscapes was evident in his vision and organisation of APC4 in Albury back in 1990.  One element in that vision was managing to get John Kerin, the then federal minister for agriculture in the Keating labour government, to open the event.

It was through co-teaching a PDC in the Bega Valley with Hugh Gravestein in 1991 that I started to get a sense of permaculture  becoming embedded in the life of Australian families rather than just the mad passion of cranky individualist ecological pioneers. One of the tragedies of recent decades is that the passion of parents can lead to wholesale rejection in the next generation. The Gravestein family shows how creating a sustainable culture is a multi-generation process.

Vries Gravestein speaking to a bioregional permaculture gathering Bega NSW August 2011

Vries Gravestein speaking to a bioregional permaculture gathering Bega NSW August 2011

Beyond the family I have met and worked with so many of Vries’ students, most notably John Champagne who has played such a critical role in embedding permaculture in this bio-regional community and in maintaining the bonds of the national permaculture family.

With the passing of elders we often find ourselves needing to, not only reflect but to record for posterity, something of their life and times. At this time, it is particularly gratifying for me  to be able to simply re-read Vries’s story as one of the many permaculture pioneers recorded by another of his students,  Dr Caroline Smith in Permaculture Pioneers; stories from the new frontier. I think I can represent the permaculture community in acknowledging Vries Gravestein’s enduring legacy through his many students who continue to develop and spread the permaculture message.

David Holmgren

Co-originator of the Permaculture concept

(This message was read out by John Champagne at the funeral of  Vries Gravestein held in Pambula NSW on October Friday 24th. Reproduced here with the permission.)

0

An interview with Permaculture Pioneer Rosemary Morrow

Rosemary MorrowA little bit about Rowe

Born in Perth, Rosemary Morrow (Rowe) was claimed early by the Earth; plants, animals, stones, weather. Some years in the Kimberleys as a young girl confirmed it.

Later she trained in agriculture science with which she was very disappointed, then moved to France where she lived in the L’Arche community. Later at Jordans Village in England she realised she would become a Quaker. Back in Australia in the 1980s Rowe’s Permaculture Design Course provided the basis for a concern for Earth restoration. She considers permaculture to be ‘sacred knowledge’ to be carried and shared with others. Since then, when asked, she has travelled to teach the PDC to others who, due to circumstances, could not access it any other way. This took her to immediate post-war Vietnam as well as Cambodia, Uganda, Ethiopia and other countries.

Rowe’s present concern is to make teaching sustainable and encourage others to succeed her as teachers.

A Permaculture Pioneer

Permaculture Pioneers: stories from the new frontierRosemary Morrow is one of the 26 contributors to Permaculture Pioneers – stories from the new frontier. In this short interview, introduced by co-editor Kerry Dawborn,  Rowe talks about the limits that permaculture has to deal with the problems of the world. Permaculture can provide skills and build confidence to adapt to changing environments, but a changing climate illustrates that migration may become necessary in extreme situations.

Rowe’s advice? “Apply the design principles as closely as you can you’ll end up with wonderful production of good systems, and that there isn’t a whole lot of room to innovate… creativity is applying principles, it’s not in going much beyond the palate that we have of principles for designing well.”

10% of all sales of Permaculture Pioneers whether in print form, or eBook form, continue to go to Permafund, supporting Permaculture projects around the world especially those that assist with resilience in the developing world and in places of extreme need. So why not purchase a copy and dip into the stories of these inspiring early adopters. Permaculture Pioneers is now available on iTunes.

0

An interview with Permaculture Pioneer Robyn Francis

Robyn_Francis_sqA little bit about Robyn

From a background in organics, sustainability and community activism, since 1983 Robyn Francis has worked throughout Australia and internationally as a permaculture teacher, designer, facilitator and presenter. She has taught hundreds of courses including PDCs, specialist training and Accredited Permaculture Training (APT). She edited the Permaculture International Journal for five years, was a founding director of Permaculture International Ltd (1987), and contributed to the design and successful accreditation of APT. Since 1993 she has developed one of Australia’s leading purpose-designed education and training centres, Djanbung Gardens, now home base for the bioregional campus of Permaculture College Australia Inc.

Robyn has trained and mentored numerous permaculturists, many of whom are doing significant work internationally and in their local communities and bioregions. She is a passionate communicator, cook, gardener, poet, singer/songwriter and composer who loves gourd crafting, building with bamboo and generally walking her talk.

A Permaculture Pioneer

Permaculture Pioneers: stories from the new frontierRobyn Francis is one of the 26 contributors to Permaculture Pioneers – stories from the new frontier. In this short interview, introduced by co-editor Kerry Dawborn, Robyn talks about how permaculture informs everything in her life now, how permaculture brings a sense of hope during tumultuous times, and how the movement needs to find a better balance between the human ‘people care’ element and the practical physical systems.

10% of all sales of Permaculture Pioneers whether in print form, or eBook form, continue to go to Permafund, supporting Permaculture projects around the world especially those that assist with resilience in the developing world and in places of extreme need. So why not purchase a copy and dip into the stories of these inspiring early adopters. Permaculture Pioneers is now available on iTunes.

1

Vale Errol Mutch

Errol

Errol Mutch explaining the worm composting system at Edendale Farm August 2003.

I never knew Errol very well but from my first meeting in the early 1990s when he was  the manager at Edendale City Farm in Eltham. I was impressed by the man, and what he and Cheryl had done to transform Edendale from an derelict animal pound to a great example of progressive environmental education. From that first time I was shown around the farm (as a consultant to the shire council) to hearing him sprouk to groups of school children or the public at field days, I recognised Errol as having that rare combination of  decades of farming experience with a passion for biodynamics and permaculture that I was more used to seeing in young environmentalists from urban backgrounds.

The development of Edendale as a public environmental education facility was of course shaped by all the usual factors of funding priorities, politics, bureaucracy and fashions but it also showed the care and attention of Errol and Cheryl’s stewardship that we usually associate with a well loved and cared-for private property. The animal systems in particular were exemplary in not only their good management but also in the significant contribution to maintenance of working strains of heritage rare breeds.

It was a tragedy of the times that this work was never recognised for its significant contribution to biodiversity conservation as defined by the UN Convention on Biodiversity. More than lack of recognition the progressive common sense environmentalism that Errol has demonstrated was undermined and dismantled by bureaucrats reflecting the “nativist” version of biodiversity that was so strong at Nillumbik shire council at the time.

To quote from a letter of support that I wrote in November 2004,

…..the best examples of the pragmatic and productive approach to sustainable land use, such as Edendale are subject to constant erosion by a nativist orthodoxy which dominates all levels of policy making and environmental education (not only at Nillumbik)  It seems ironic that the “state of the art” cost effective land and water management at Edendale with multiple environmental and social value outcomes is to be downgraded while much more expensive indigenous revegetation programs with questionable and unproven water quality and other environmental benefits are retained and reinforced.  The proposed removal of pigs from Edendale and downgrading of the poultry breeding systems without reference to independent evaluation by those with expertise in city farms is analogous to planting oak or pine trees in the shire’s best wildflower reserve without consulting experts in remnant indigenous biodiversity management. 
 
Edendale is one of the last places in Australia where a functional strain of  the Australorp poultry breed is being maintained. This is an Australian contribution to domesticated animal biodiversity and incidentally most of the original breeding and maintenance of the Australorp was in Nillumbik (at Research). Under the UN Convention on Biodiversity this flock constitute “threatened in-situ domesticated biodiversity”. Therefore Australian governments have a legally binding responsibility to conserve this flock.  While these responsibilities are not well known (your environmental staff may not be aware of this) it is an opportunity for Nillumbik to apply for funding to support the excellent biodiversity conservation work at Edendale.

I remember Errol as one of those rare “salt of the earth” natural environmentalists, who charted his own path in working with nature though the difficult decades when such ideas were rare and ignored, to then find a collegiate network of like minded people through the biodynamic, organic and permaculture networks, and finally to become a wise elder inspiring children and adults to find their own path in working with nature.

 

(Errol passed away peacefully Oct. 9, 2013 Aged 71 years.)

0

Pioneers on eBook

Melliodora Publishing is proud to announce the launch of the eBook edition of ‘Permaculture Pioneers’. The personal stories of 26 very different permaculturists give you an insight into the people side of permaculture, what makes them and the movement tick. In this new form you can use your favourite electronic gadget to read about the joys and pains experienced over the years as permaculture developed into the worldwide movement it is today. The eBook is available in both .ePub and .pdf format which can be read on just about all of the various mobile devices.

Permaculture Pioneers - Using the search function on .ePub version as viewed on an iPad

Using the search function make it easy to find what your looking for.

People who are interested in the history and evolution of permaculture will no doubt enjoy the added features this edition offers. The black and white photos of the original printed book come alive with colour.

You’ll love being able to quickly click around the book to selected pages, information and authors. The linked contents page takes you to the chapter of your choosing. Being able to link straight to websites from the reference section (if you’re connected) means that you can follow an idea as far as you like, and not lose your place in the book.

Probably the most useful function of the electronic format is that the content is searchable, giving you the ability to easily find exactly what you are looking for.

The ePub format is best suited to mobile devices, as the text and images are dynamic – just like a website. The book can be read on tablets or most modern ‘smart’ phones using an App on your device.

Permaculture Pioneers: stories from the new frontier - BookYou may find that you would prefer the layout of the original book, using the PDF format with it’s quirky fonts, which also includes links when used with Acrobat Reader.

Our FAQ page can answer just about all your questions about downloads and if you purchase the eBook through us and you will receive both the .ePub and .PDF formats at no extra cost.

Pioneers donate to a worthy cause

The-PioneersMelliodora Publishing, the publication wing of Holmgren Design, produced the book Permaculture Pioneers in 2011. The editors and authors of the book stipulated that the royalties due to them were to go to Permaculture Australia’s Permafund; we are happy to announce that nearly $3,000 has been sent to Permafund (the Permaculture International Public Fund) to promote and support Permaculture projects around the world especially those that assist with resilience in the developing world and in places of extreme need. 10% of all sales of Permaculture Pioneers will continue to go to this worth while fund, so to keep all these smiling authors happy, purchase a copy and enjoy their stories ‘from the new frontier’.

0

“It’s a wonderful, readable book”

Permaculture Pioneers: stories from the new frontier

Permaculture Pioneers: Stories From the New Frontier

A review of Permaculture Pioneers by Diane Reynolds appeared on Green Energy Times.

This collection of 25 stories of those involved, in different ways, in the “extraordinary design system for sustainability known as permaculture” covers a range of perspectives – old/young, male/female, from very different backgrounds and locations.

Continue Reading →

0

Dave Jacke in Daylesford

A renowned permaculture pioneer from the US is to give a talk in Daylesford.

Dave Jacke, author of Edible Forest Gardens, has taken the Forest Garden concept beyond its tropical origins and shown it can be adapted to temperate climates.

This talk is a unique opportunity for everyone interested in ecological solutions and especially permaculture practitioners.

When: 7pm, Wednesday March 13
Where: Senior Citizens Room (behind Town Hall) in Daylesford
Cost: $10 per person
Contact: hrn@internode.on.net or 5348 3636
Bookings essential and can be made on line here

4

Permaculture Pioneers: Stories from the New Frontier

The latest publication from Melliodora Publishing

Permaculture Pioneers Cover
Permaculture Pioneers: Stories from the New Frontier, edited by Caroline Smith and Kerry Dawborn, with an afterword by Professor Stuart B Hill, is a collection of stories about personal journeys into permaculture of some of our most important Australian pioneers. This book explores social and inner change for sustainability and charts a history of the first three decades of permaculture.

We are receiving fantastic feedback about the book and launches around the country have been a great success. All who have attended have enjoyed celebrating the launch of the book and hearing the words of editors Kerry Dawborn and Caroline Smith and many of the authors.

Read a review by Kirsten Bradley of Milkwood here.

Permaculture PioneersContributing authors:
David Holmgren * Terry White * Robyn Francis * Max Lindegger * Vries Gravestein * Jeff Nugent * Geoff Lawton * Russ Grayson * Fiona Campbell * Annemarie Brookman * Graham Brookman * Rosemary Morrow * Martha Hills * Janet Millington * Robin Clayfield * Alanna Moore * Naomi Coleman * Virginia Solomon * Ross Mars * Jill Finnane * Ian Lillington * Jane Scott * Josh Byrne * Tony Jansen * Morag Gamble

0