Permaculture : an interlude

But the group that descended on Melbourne for the Course seemed to confirm the adage that the meek shall inherit the earth. They were open, trusting and sincere in search of a meaning for their lives. They were mostly stragglers discontent with the Ronald Reagan Road. They came from all over the world: Switzerland, USA, Portugal, Japan, Finland, Holland, India, Brazil, New Zealand and of course, Australia. Among them were architects, gardeners, a horticulturist and a farmer; but there were also artists, engineers, teachers, a nurse, housewives and a make-up artist. Significantly there were several from the chair-borne army of the computer world. At 66, I was the oldest in the class.

Permaculture appeals instantly to those agonising over the fact our planet is in peril. Of its three ethical principles, the first two are somewhat vague and almost clichéd : care of the earth and care of people. But the third is Bill’s greatest heresy in a modern world geared for grabbing all you can. Permaculture’s third ethic, when paraphrased, urges you to ‘return all surpluses’ .

Obviously surpluses will have to be created before they can be returned. Established forests as models of permanent agriculture are what inspired Bill to evolve Permaculture. Such forests are forever producing surpluses and support countless life forms. The mission of a Permaculturist is to design such systems with conscientiousness and skill.

Bill Mollison’s life has been dedicated to discovering and putting together a way to teach Permaculture to everyone. His magnum opus ‘Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual’ is a compendium of best practices drawn from around the world. Bill has travelled the world and worked everywhere, he has read widely and implemented many projects. He has been a fisherman, hunter, gardener, researcher, professor, manager, cost accountant and in between these, a poet, a writer, a celebrity, a ladies man and even a night club bouncer. Consistently, he has been irreverent of authority and closed minds.

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