Fresh out of our Permaculture Design Course in 2006, I was in my late twenties and I was pregnant with our first child. Both my husband Justin and I attended the course in Raglan New Zealand with Permaculture Teacher Robyn Francis. Our head’s were exploding after each day of the course with new ideas and we were ready to go out and make our own positive difference in the world starting with our own block of land and in our small community in Pacific Palms.
After completing our Permaculture Design Course we’d realised that the perfect block of land to practice permaculture on was a gentle sloping north facing cleared block of degraded land ready to be rejuvenated. Our eight acre Eucalyptus forest on a rocky ridge was far from the dream block of land to grow food and start practising permaculture but we started with what we had and did what we could with the resources on our block with a tiny budget. The soil was so hard that each time we tried to dig into it you pretty much needed a mattock and a crow bar to dig a hole. We soon learnt how to grow plants in raised gardens, swales and creative methods to make soil.
A lot of people think Permaculture is just about growing a few veggies, sheet mulching and backyard chooks. And whilst these are some of the topics you will learn about when studying Permaculture, one of the most important lessons I have learnt is applying a systems thinking approach to problem solving. This can be applied to your vegetable garden, your work, community or basically anything that requires problem solving with an outcome of creative solutions.
Bill Mollison the co-originator of Permaculture said “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”
In July 2018 China decided it would no longer take what it called foreign garbage. It surely makes you think twice about the recycling you put out on bin night, where exactly does this waste end up? Most people don’t think about it after it just disappears from the bin. If you haven’t yet seen ABC’s War on Waste I’d strongly recommend you watch it, to give you a new perspective on waste, it might just make you think twice about drinking your coffee from a disposal cup or regularly purchasing bottled water. With people facing the effects of climate change, fast paced changes in technology and a generation of some kids who would rather be glued to a screen than exploring nature and connecting with people around them it’s sometimes hard not to feel a little overwhelmed with the bombardment of negative news around us. Applying creative solutions to the complex problems we face today gives me hope towards a sustainable future for all, but as Kermit the frog said, it’s not easy being green! Over the last thirteen years of building a home, a community of friends, growing our own food, I’d have to say the biggest achievement we have made is bringing two beautiful little people into the world who are absorbing the knowledge around them like little sponges.