Category 3

Holistic Management For Life


Assimilating permaculture design as a fluent part of your repertoire takes years of practice. Along the way you inevitably adapt the way you design to suit your style and context of application.

These two statements apply equally to Holistic Management, or managing holistically (as founder Allan Savory prefers to phrase it). Managing holistically is a process for making decisions that are ecologically, socially and economically beneficial in the short, medium and long term. As with permaculture design, managing holistically is something you do in a logical sequence of steps or phases.

I have found that managing holistically helps permaculture projects more fully and consistently realise their promise. Darren J. Doherty put it well in observing that: ‘Permaculture by nature has not been that strong on decision-making, holistic management hasn’t been that strong on landscape design and landscape planning. So we’ve got two methodologies, which on their own are extraordinary, and together, can be so symbiotically powerful it’s just breathtaking.’

Shanaka Fernando: Social Entrepreneur


Almost fifteen years ago, a young Shanaka Fernando dreamed of a world based on need rather than greed. He wished people would focus less on money and more on each other, and wondered if the act of giving would make a difference.

It was a philosophical question, about generosity: ‘If we are as generous as possible, would people value that and reciprocate? Could we create a culture of generosity?’ Although Shanaka was born into comfortable circumstances in Sri Lanka, as a child he’d seen the struggles of those less fortunate than himself. As a student in Australia he wondered what would happen if food was made available to people without them having to worry about money.

Not content to wonder, Shanaka took action, and in early 2000 opened the first restaurant of the not-for profit organisation Lentil as Anything in St Kilda. The restaurant served simple, nutritious vegetarian food with the help of local volunteer staff. ‘I knew that it wasn’t being done anywhere else. I hoped it would work, and was happy to try for three months. I knew that people needed an opportunity to bring out the best in themselves.’ Nearly fifteen years later, his experiment in generosity is a success: Lentil as Anything has five restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney, and each has no fixed prices – some customers pay more than the cost of providing the food, others are not able to pay at all.

Save Your Seeds: How To Save Tomato Seed


If you grow them at home it’s easy to save your own seed for sowing the following season.

Tomatoes are generally self-pollinating – the flowers pollinate themselves before they open fully – so you don’t have to worry too much about keeping the variety pure. There is a small chance of cross-pollination by insects sneaking into the flowers early, so if you grow more than one variety it’s best to separate them with a tall crop, or plant them about ten metres apart.

There are a few simple steps for saving and storing tomato seeds for next season.

Choose the best early fruit from the strongest plants to save your seed from.

Bamboo in Permaculture


I love bamboo: growing, eating, crafting, building, and listening to the sounds of creaking culms and rustling leaves in the wind. It provides me with microclimates, windbreaks, privacy screens, animal fodder, wildlife habitat, an endless supply of mulch, delicious tender eating shoots, lots of materials for the garden and building small structures. My patch also sequesters the amount of CO2 generated by two overseas work flights to Asia each year, or one flight to Europe or the Americas, to teach permaculture.

When I acquired Djanbung Gardens near Nimbin, northern NSW, in the early 1990s, bamboo was going to be an important part of the overall design. I gleaned information and practical tips on the most useful varieties from several bamboo enthusiasts and growers, including Hans Erken of Earthcare Enterprises, and Victor Cusak, author of Bamboo world: the growing and use of clumping bamboos (Victor Cusack 2010), and took care where I placed the varieties in the design. We held our first bamboo workshop at Djanbung Gardens, with Hans and Victor, in 1994 and started planting. Ten years later we held another bamboo workshop, with Julianne Hartmann and Rob Swain, where I learned more of the art and tricks of building with bamboo. Since then we have conducted annual bamboo workshops during the harvest season.

Eat Your Weeds: Chickweed


Botanical name: Stellaria media Parts used: stems, flowers, leaves and seeds.

Description: creeping annual ground cover herb, with tiny white flowers and oval shaped leaves; stems can reach up to 60 cm in length.

Nutrients: vitamins C and A; minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc; protein.

You may have nibbled on this tender and highly nutritious ‘supergreen’ while out in the garden, or used it to replace spinach or parsley in a recipe. You may have fed it to your chicken, duck or turkey friends.

Fermenting for Health


When I first heard about permaculture I was drawn to how it provides tools for living in sync with the planet, as a designed approach with ethics and principles. What I wasn’t prepared for was how it could be applied to so many aspects of life. So, when I was introduced to lactofermentation it was no surprise that it did the same thing, but on a microbial level: we have a gut food web similar to the soil food web, which can be nourished, maintained or killed by the choices we make.

Consuming fermented foods and drinks promotes diversity of gut microbes, builds resilience in our immune function and has other benefits. Fermenting uses microbes in, on and around us to create foods that benefit our gut and bodies: microbes consume sugars and create enzymes and vitamins, and perform other digestive functions.

During fermentation beneficial microbes work together, sometimes as a colony referred to as a culture or a ‘symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts’ (SCOBY). We can manipulate the fermenting environment to favour the desired outcome, for example to preserve food.

The Age Of Food: Healthy, Sustainable, Sufficient


Food is poised to change, more profoundly than ever before: what people eat in 2114, how it’s made and consumed, would be as strange to us as the foods our own ancestors grew and ate before the age of cold storage, takeaway and cooking shows.

This food revolution will arise out of resource pressures building up in the global food system, coupled with new technologies and emerging trends in farming, health and sustainability.

In this article I make some predictions about the future of food, based on trends and constraints. Many foreshadow magnificent new opportunities in the Age of Food.

Rare Breeds: Ryeland Sheep


David Holmgren’s book Permaculture: principles & pathways beyond sustainability (2002) is still in demand around the world. With editions now in ten languages, it is reaching more people than ever. The new e-book format allows people to carry it with them anywhere. Another advantage of this format is that the website links (and there are many) have been updated; with a web connected device you can look up the references instantly. And the footnotes are linked throughout the text. This e-book will enable people in countries where postage costs are prohibitive to finally get hold of David’s book at an affordable price.

The e-book is available in e-pub format for $19 from

We are also selling printed copies in our shop at

Permaculture Plant: Feijoa


Botanical name: Acca sellowiana (formerly Feijoa sellowiana).

Common names: feijoa, pineapple guava.

Origin: South America; widely cultivated in New Zealand.

Description: an attractive evergreen shrub with edible fruit; the rounded leaves are green on top and cream below; flowers are pink with prominent red stamens; fruit is oval and green.

Permaculture uses:

The utility and adaptability of feijoa make it a useful permaculture plant – a feijoa hedge has become a permaculture clich.!