Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why Australia?

Jan. 13

For starters, Australia is the homeland of permaculture – a design system that is based on mimicking the patterns of the natural world to create regenerative, closed loop systems (see the link for a multiplicity of definitions). Since the 1970’s, permaculture has been practiced and promoted throughout the country, spawning world renowned designers and educators, several of whom I’ve come to study with.

The two main folks I came to visit are designers Geoff Lawton and Darren Doherty, also known as the “Earth Surgeons.” While I partially cringe at the analogy with modern medicine (which is a miraculous but dis-integrated practice), you get the idea. These guys are master regenerative designers; among many other things, they design farms, land management systems, and move earth around to maximize the fertility of soil by increasing its capacity to hold on to water, thereby its ability to sustain both human and nonhuman life. Sounds amazing, eh? Stay tuned and I’ll be documenting more of their work.

I'll also be visiting a network of farms, ecovillages and agroforestry projects, regenerative projects that have been in process for decades. While the U.S. has only a few examples of such projects, Australia is replete with them. So here I am!

Tomorrow at dawn I head to Richmond, at the base of the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney, to attend a keyline design class with Darren. It will be taught in the hometown of PA Yeomans, a farmer and inventor and designer extraordinaire who founded the Keyline Design principles and predates permaculture by a few decades. This is realllly exciting!!! More news soon.

A Yeoman's plow in action in California - the plow's specially designed deep shank allows for subsurface water harvesting without turning over the topsoil

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