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Pamela Forward

Photo by Michelle Wilson

Where do you live?

I live on one acre outside of Margaret River, WA.

Tell us about what you do

I am a sustainable building designer, with clients Australia wide. In my work I express commitment to simplicity, beauty and sustainability, underpinned by core values of permaculture. With clients, I prioritise passive solar design, use of local and recycled materials, and minimum ecological footprints with maximum function and flexibility.

I also teach sustainable building design (‘zone zero’) for the Fair Harvest Permaculture Design Certificate, and facilitate workshops on sustainable topics. I love co‑teaching the Living Smart course which takes us all on a journey, scrutinising our households and lifestyles.

What is your property like?

My land has remnant marri/jarrah forest around the perimeter, with house and garden nestled inside. I collect my own rainwater, create energy from photovoltaic cells, have solar hot water, grow my own food and keep poultry. I use recycled timbers for outdoor structures. My vegetable garden has raised wicking beds inside a walled courtyard to keep the kangaroos out. I juggle household needs with our natural landscape, to create a system that sustains us all.

What drew you to doing what you do?

My mother and grandmother ran their households based on using what they had: I learned to grow plants by gardening with my mother. As a teenager I was drawn to the 1970s counterculture and learned about permaculture and sustainability. I have studied as a teacher, raised three children, designed, built and renovated several homes, trained as a building designer and in permaculture. My seventeen years in Margaret River has brought my skills together. I am privileged to share in the renewed interest and commitment to living consciously.

What inspires you to do what you do?

I think that we are not separate from each other or the natural world, and that we get into strife – in our relationships, communities, environment – when we forget that. What I do has become an expression of love – for each other and our planet.

How is permaculture incorporated into your practice?

Permaculture overarches principles of sustainable design. Homes support and sustain us so that we can go into the world and make a difference. I incorporate gardens into building design.

When you create a building for someone what do you hope to achieve?

I want clients to be clear about how they want to live; it’s not just about the house. Along the way we have conversations about useful things. Because I work from home I can demonstrate the benefits. I see my task as interpreter and dream weaver (within budget!).

How involved are you with permaculture in your community?

I teach Zone Zero to staff at the local high school, attend ‘permablitz’ events and participate regularly in a seed and produce swap. Much of my social and community involvement is relevant to permaculture, but I try not to spread myself too thinly!


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