Permaculture and Me

Permaculture and Me

Permaculture and Me

When I was quite young, my parents had a Reader’s Digest book called “Back to Basics”. They were always such great examples to me of living sustainably, even though we were living in suburban Los Angeles at the time. They still managed to have vegetable gardens, raise animals, Mum would make her own soap, bake her own bread, sew and knit our clothes, and Dad would knock up practically anything we needed by himself.

I found myself completely drawn to this book. It described the old-school ways of doing things, those traditional frontier skills, and a how-to for just about anything to do with living off the land. Choosing a site, building a solar passive house, preparing a garden, raising animals, all the cottage crafts, it was pretty comprehensive. This book, published in 1981, completely captured my imagination. I would spend hours pouring over the pages, imaging the day when I would build my own house, shear my own sheep and spin my own wool, raise my own vegetable garden, press my own apple cider. I have always been drawn to doing things the natural way. It isn’t so much that I was making these conscious choices, it is just who I am.

Through high school, I developed a keen interest in architecture, and would spend hours drawing up house plans, dreaming of the day that I would be an architect. Then I was a fashion designer. Then I was a concert pianist. By the time I hit the workforce, having not finished high school and a mother at 23, I was a receptionist, which led me to bookkeeping, and that was where I seemed to have found my thing. I was good at it – really good – and it ended up being a reliable source of income for my family as I ran my bookkeeping service from home, around my 4 children, for over 15 years. I thought that’s what I was meant to do. I enjoyed it, I loved the ability to help my clients, and as the years of experience helped me to develop a stronger understanding of all things business and especially small business, I wanted to give more. This took me on an adventurous journey which brought me to business coaching. Oh, how I love coaching!

The funny thing about learning how to be a coach is that you end up getting coached yourself. For me, it was an amazing transformation process that healed emotional wounds, gave clarity and direction to what I was doing, and all right when I needed it. I was right in the middle of establishing myself as a business coach when this process brought me full circle. Yes, I love business, and business coaching, I am still a great bookkeeper, but there is more to the picture.

I needed to get back to living in harmony with the earth. It’s who I am. So I got this crazy huge idea. Such a dangerous thing for someone who’s just been taught how to facilitate a transformational process! Mindset it an incredibly powerful thing. If you can think it, you can do it. What Ever You Want. So I have this dangerously awesome idea, and it needs some guidance to make sure that everything is working in harmony with nature.

Enter: Permaculture

I had followed a few videos on YouTube, looking at these wonderful farms, living off grid, creating a living swimming pond complete with fish and frogs, setting up a water ram pump that didn’t need power to run but just using the water flow’s own force, having the goat’s pens near the orchard so you don’t have to travel far to feed them the pruned branches. I loved it all! I approached one of these people, to ask about helping me set up my farm, and was told it would be best if I do my own PDC. What’s that? Google tells me it’s a Permaculture Design Certificate. Cool, and there’s a few places near me that run these. 2 weeks full time.

I still didn’t know what it was exactly, just that I knew I needed it to have a chance at making my dream come true. So when it came time to pay my deposit on doing the course, there I was, thinking nervously “But what if this idea doesn’t work out?” As soon as the question was asked, it was answered. “If this is ever going to work, I need to act as though it already has.” So in that moment, without any hesitation at all, I paid that deposit, and that was the point of no return. I’m in, I’m committed, I own this.

It turns out, Permaculture is what I’ve been wanting to do and live and learn and teach for my whole life, I just never knew what it was called! It began in Melbourne in the mid 70’s (ironically, I was born mid 70’s, and my family moved to Melbourne in 1984), a word coined by Bill Mollison who, together with David Holmgren, developed a framework, gathered from cultures all over the world about how to live in harmony with nature. It’s a series of design principles and ethics, and every single day of that 2 week course confirmed to me that this so totally me.

It will take some time to get this knowledge working for me as I redesign our front and back yard – one small step at a time. I was particularly thrilled just the other day when my husband was the one to make a suggestion that was entirely in keeping with the permaculture principles when we had a problem we were trying to solve in the back yard. But the funny thing is, while the organised knowledge is still quite fresh, and my design skills are incredibly green, every thing I do in this arena feels like I’ve known this my whole life.

I love that I can pinpoint the very beginnings of all this to when I was 6 years old, reading that book, “Back to Basics” which I claimed as my own quite a few years back when I was visiting my parents.