Working smarter, not harder is a good way to create a resilient, high-yielding garden. And simple observation is the stepping stone for smart design. To observe and interact is the first of David Holmgren’s 12 permaculture principles and arguably the most significant. It’s nearly impossible to create a resilient permaculture system without careful observation. Nature is a living, breathing ecosystem and the only way to truly understand it is to get out there and immerse yourself in it. Permaculture educators Angelo Eliades and Kat Lavers share their insights on how observing and interacting with their backyards over the years has led to the success of their renowned permaculture systems.
The Indigenous people of the Oglala Lakota are revitalising their culture with permaculture, Indigenous wisdom and looking for solutions for the next seven generations. Based at Pine Ridge in South Dakota, a Reservation created in 1889 – originally part of the Great Sioux Reservation – there’s a need for change.
A productive food garden starts with great design. Applying permaculture design principles early on in the design phase means striking a balance with nature to get it working with you, achieving practical and permanent efficiencies to help feed you and your family.
Permaculture design is successful because it mimics nature’s interconnectedness. An interconnectedness which allows nature to be a self-supporting mechanism that can exist and thrive without added inputs or unnecessary waste, and it’s successful because nothing exists in isolation. If we can implement similar systems into our communities, all of a sudden we’re less reliant on external supply and better equipped to stand and face adversity.
Fire is an intrinsic part of the Australian landscape. With the opportunity to both reduce carbon emissions and build community resilience, Australia should be leading the world in transitioning to renewable energy to reduce the severity of bushfire. Fire has become more destructive since European colonisation. And due to climate change and changes in land use, Australia has experienced even greater destruction over recent decades. Australian landscapes were once effectively managed by Indigenous cultural burning practices, but stopping this has left us with denser forests more vulnerable to fire.
Samuel Ralph and Emily McMullen first became aware of permaculture design six years after moving into their suburban Hobart home. With renovations to their home finished, they turned their attentions to the garden on their 700 sqm block.
Many of us spend a lot of time and energy caring for the environment and caring for others in our families and our communities. Sometimes we find that, while spending all this time and energy caring for everyone else, we forget to care for ourselves.
You’d go a long way to find a purpose-built, permaculture-inspired, organically certified econeighbourhood like Bend. With those credentials, you might expect a remote location, miles from anywhere, but Bend is located in a major town on the NSW Far South Coast, near schools, shops, a post office, library and medical facilities. The aim of this intentionalliving project was to build community, not just build ‘a community’.
We bought our old house and quarter acre block in urban Hobart in late 2012. The only reason we could afford to buy it was because of its ‘interesting’ and limited access—just a steep old 100 m concrete staircase from the road. And while we were pretty okay with this initially, we always knew we wanted to buy the neighbouring block that came with easy access.
The concept of permaculture can be difficult to define. Often people have a basic understanding but find it hard to really grasp the concepts behind it that make it different from just organic gardening or sustainable living. What sets permaculture apart is that it is based on design, permaculture principles and the three ethics of earth care, people care and fair share.