Tag Archives: Permaculture Principles

Home & Away Part Two: A Guide to Absentee Gardening

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The third golden rule of absentee gardening: MULCH!

This post is the second in a series of three. Collectively, the posts weigh the pleasures of roaming (travel) against the pleasures of homing (epitomized by the practice of gardening), offering practical tips and solutions for gardeners – who like me – enjoy long periods away from the nest. In short, this series of posts is about ‘absentee gardening.’

In this particular post I outline the crucial six-steps I followed prior to departing on a four-week holiday. It goes without saying that gardens benefit from regular attention, and so four weeks without maintenance is a lot to ask of any annual vegetable garden!

Why I was leaving… the back story
A few hours after delivering my Confirmation Presentation (a doctoral milestone!) to a mingled audience of faculty, friends, family and office of research staff at the University of the Sunshine Coast I decided it was time to celebrate. I jumped online and did the unthinkable: booked a ticket to Thailand and Vietnam for one month. I hold the endorphins released during the presentation responsible for the rashness of my decision – or maybe it was simply the fact that I was missing Richie, who had been away in Thailand for four-weeks already.

Hold on honey, I’m a-coming!’ was the subject of the email I posted to Richie that night. Continue reading

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Filed under Doctoral Research, Earth Care, Food, Permaculture, Travel

‘Abundance’

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an image of abundance

‘Abundance’ is a hallowed concept in permaculture. Abundance is what we permaculturalists aim for: abundant, multifarious yields of fruits, nuts, herbs, medicines, fibres… all things useful and edible.

The way I see it abundance is nature’s reward for careful, insightful design work. I like abundance. As a form of feedback it tells us we’re doing something right. In my mind the word ‘abundance’ conjures up the world of Sofia Coppola’s gorgeously realised period-extravaganza: Marie Antoinette. The costumes, designs and settings in this film reek of opulence. They’re sumptuous. Abundant!

Outrageously sumptuous, Copolla's Marie Antoinette

Outrageously sumptuous: Coppola’s Marie Antoinette

What am I responding to when I respond to the idea of ‘abundance’? Is it something sexy? Something related to fecundity? Excess? Who wouldn’t prefer to lay eyes on a tray mounded with macaroons rather than a tray with just one or two macaroons swimming in vast empty space?

The fact is humans respond (through their eyes and then their brains) to abundance. No denying it. It’s why nutritionists urge people to store their wholefoods (nuts, seeds, pulses, dried fruits) in glass jars in prominent places in their kitchens – so the produce can be seen. Apparently the mind is attuned to abundance. When we see abundant food-stores we feel happy, assured, comforted: starvation seems a far-off possibility.

Store your whole foods and preserves somewhere where you can see them. Celebrate 'abundance'!

Store your whole foods and preserves somewhere where you can see them. Celebrate ‘abundance’!

To me, abundance is a principle exemplified by plants. Plants give abundantly. If you don’t believe me, look how many seeds reside inside a single tomato or how many mangos a mature tree produces in one season. Loads!

Sure, plants aren’t always abundant in terms of the yields they offer. There are bad years when not enough rain/too much rain/not enough sun/too much sun/sun at the wrong time/rain at the wrong time means poor yields and as a result, scarcity.

Yes, scarcity. That hideous word bandied about by scaremongering politicians and capitalists with a view to convincing us ‘There’s not enough stuff out there for all of us.’ And that, ‘We need to beg, borrow, steal more, More, MORE, MORE.’

Me? I’m not buying it.

Why? Because I believe in abundance. And not just believe. I know it exists and that it is something we can all, realistically, aspire to.

Here’s how I know…

Continue reading

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Filed under Doctoral Research, Earth Care, Food, Permaculture

Designer as recliner (defining permaculture…)

IMG_5965 This week I’m working on my confirmation presentation: a 15-20 minute ‘lecture’ I will be giving in about two-weeks’ time to my USC peers, supervisors, faculty, the Office of Research and any one else who wants to come along (do you?). The presentation will be a summary of my proposed research, including methods and methodologies, relevant literature, significance and innovation and the nature and purpose of the creative artefact.


Note: ‘Confirmation’ (in terms of higher degree research (HDR) does not entail donning white or attending church. It’s a process whereby a ‘probationary’ candidate becomes a fully-fledged (‘confirmed’) candidate. After completing one’s ‘confirmation’ the researcher gets the red, orange or green light from the Office of Research in regard completing their research. Confirmation takes place one-year after commencement for full-time candidates, or two-years for part-time candidates.


I’m anxious about providing my audience – early on in the presentation – with a simple definition of permaculture. The definition of permaculture with which I provided my audience this week during a test-run was Bill Mollison’s classic definition of permaculture from Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual:

Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.  Mollison, B 2012, Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual, Tagari Publications: Sisters Creek, Tasmania, p. ix.

Earlier today I was reading Eric Toensmeier’s Paradise Lot and came across this definition of permaculture, which I like:

Meeting human needs while improving ecosystem health. Ferguson in Toensmeier, E 2013, Paradise Lot, Chelsea Green Publishing: White River Junction, Vermont, p. 3.

How simple is that! Here’s another:

Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments.’ Mollison, B & Slay, R M  2011, Introduction to Permaculture, Tagari Publications, Sisters Creek, Tasmania, p. 1.

In Paradise Lot (a fun, enthusiast permaculture memoir that’s well worth a squizz) Toensmeier explains permaculture thusly:

Permaculture (short for “permanent agriculture” or “permanent culture”) is a movement that began in Australia in the 1970s. It brings together traditional indigenous land management practices, ecological design, and sustainable practices to create landscapes that are more than the sum of their parts. Permaculture is not so much about having a greenhouse, chickens, and an annual vegetable garden as it is about how those elements are tied together to create functional interconnections that work like a natural ecosystem. Low maintenance is the holy grail of permaculture – a food forest with a hammock hidden beneath fruit trees, where, as permaculture codeveloper Bill Mollison famously quipped, “the designer turns into the recliner. (Toensmeier, E 2013, Paradise Lot, Chelsea Green Publishing: White River Junction, Vermont, p. 2)

Recently, in my own life, the permaculture designers (me and Richie) turned into permaculture recliners. Here’s a picture of Richie chilling-out in a hammock during a recent camping trip to Booloumba Creek, Kenilworth. IMG_3317 Seeing Richie hanging out got me thinking how little of this we’ve done lately. Continue reading

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Filed under Books, Doctoral Research, Earth Care, Permaculture, Philosophy, Writing

Permaculture Traveller launched!

Dear friends,

Welcome back to typo traveller! After a twelve-month hiatus I’ve returned. Time to set in motion a new phase of life and along with it, a new phase in the life of this blog.

As you might already have noticed typo traveller has undergone a name-change. From here on in I’ll be conversing through the mouthpiece of Permaculture Traveller.

Why the name-change?

Because life changes. I’ve changed. You’ve changed. We all change. Same same but different.

In terms of the ‘old’ name…

I’m still ‘typing’ – typing harder than I’ve ever typed before.

I’m still prone to ‘typos’ (there’ll be ample evidence of this in this post, as well as future posts)

And (this part is a bit more of a stretch of the imagination)… I’m still travelling.

Okay. I’m not. But I am. Bear with me while I explain…

Typo Traveller was inaugurated as a travel blog. A blog to travel with. It accompanied me on an epic journey overland (no flying!) from England to Morocco, and from Morocco to Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia (…okay, I’m gloating…), Russian, Kazakhstan, China, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand (…still gloating…), Malaysia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, and eventually ‘home’, to Australia.

Then… well, the buck stopped there.

For a time.

18 months later I am no longer travelling. I am the co-keeper and cultivator of a home and garden in the Obi Obi, Queensland, Australia.

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And, I’m a scholar!

Remember how I fled Australia for India in 2007 to avoid doing a PhD?

Well, you can only flee destiny for so long. In my case, six years.

After a prolonged period of waywardness I’ve re-joined the academy. I’m an unconfirmed Doctor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing) candidate with the Faculty of Arts and Business and the Sustainability Research Centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

So far I’ve completed one year out of a three-year full-time program of doctoral research.

The concept for my doctoral research is to write a permaculture-travel memoir about the flightless journey that my partner and I undertook in 2012-2013. The creative artefact will be called Seed: The Art and Mystery of Permatravel.

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Part of the joy of conducting the research is that it allows me to continue travelling. In my mind.

Every day, my imagination sallies forth from its situated, embodied habitus within my body (which I leave behind, for practical reasons, in my writing studio), and returns to the places that I visited over the course of my journey.

For me, writing the memoir is an opportunity to imaginatively re-inhabit the places I visited during that journey – and reconnect, (yes… still imaginatively), with the remarkable people whom I met – the many WWOOF, Couch Surfing, WorkX and AirBnB hosts – and the diverse landscapes I inhabited with them: fincas, farms, cottages, islands, mountains, gorges, cities…

I want to learn more about those people and places, supplementing my experiential knowledge with book learning on cultural history, natural history, political history, folk lore, environmental anthropology and ethnoecology.

The narrative I will be writing is not only about the art and mystery of permatravel, it is about how people meet their needs ‘for food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way’, and how gradually, over time, people integrate harmoniously with their landscape.

Here’s where permaculture comes in.

The definition of permaculture outlined by Bill Mollison (2012, pp. ix-x) in Permaculture: A Designers’ Handbook is as follows:


 

Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way…
                       The philosophy of permaculture is one of working with, rather than against, nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions, rather than asking only one yield of them; and of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions.


The innovation of my research is that I’ll be applying permaculture design to the process of researching and writing a permaculture-travel memoir.

What I am attempting to do is develop a blueprint of an integrated permaculture-writing practice: to develop a form, and a process, that works with, and responds creatively to the twelve principles of permaculture design and which exemplifies the permaculture ethic: ‘earth care, people care, fair share’.

The twelve principles are:

Observe and Interact
Catch and Store Energy
Obtain a Yield
Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback
Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services
Produce no Waste
Design from Pattern to Details
Integrate, Rather than Segregate
Use Small and Slow Solutions
Use and Value Diversity
Use Edges and Value the Marginal
Creatively Use and Respond to Change

You’ve heard of people ‘doing’ permaculture on landscapes? Well, I’m ‘doing’ permaculture on a creative arts product – a memoir.

How is it going to turn out?

I’ve no idea.

But if you’re keen to find out, come along with me for the ride. Deviations welcome. Road-blocks expected. Delays inevitable. Arrival… a far-off but enchanting possibility.

 

NOTE: If you’re working on a similar project, or if you’re somehow engaged in the practices of writing, permaculture or travel, leave a comment and let me know what you’re up to. This blog is all about observing and interacting with what’s going on around me, and learning (graciously) to ‘apply self-regulation and accept feedback’ (the 4th principle of permaculture design). See you on the road…

 

 

 

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Filed under Culture, Doctoral Research, Earth Care, Permaculture, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing