Permaculture . . . what’s the attraction?

Permaculture Flower

What is permaculture, you ask, as I did and found out it wasn’t what I thought it was, but more.

Permaculture is a word originally coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the mid 1970’s to describe an “integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man.”  ~

However, befittingly, permaculture and therefore the definition of what it is, is ever evolving.

A fortnight ago I began my year of Certificate IV Permaculture via Tafe NSW and the National Environment Centre flexible online learning. Studying online, I discovered, involves a lot of writing. Fortunately, I like writing, and it’s one of the things I missed having time to do over the past couple of years while I commuted to and attended face-to-face horticulture classes at Tafe NSW. During that time I shared snippets of my horticulture studies experience pictorially via daily Instagram posts.

This year of study, I think, might lend itself to some blog posts… if you would like to follow my permaculture journey.

My classroom at home… Certificate IV Permaculture online study via Tafe NSW Digital, 2019

The first get-to-know-you assignment question…

Q. What attracts you to permaculture? You can also mention how you found out about permaculture and what permaculture experience you have had if you like.

A. After living and working fulltime in Sydney for the decade it took us -husband and me- to be financially prepared, living as sustainably as you can in a rented one bedroom apartment in a concrete neighbourhood immediately adjacent to a train line in the inner-west outskirts of the inner-city 2.5 kms from the CBD… keeping the faith by diligently supporting farmers markets and practising living lightly, connecting with and being informed and inspired by many like-minded people, travelling back and forth -1000 km roundtrip- on public holiday long weekends and summer vacations to our small residential property in a rural village on the Mid North/Coffs Coast… three and a half years ago we tree-changed to live there fulltime with the intention of being as self-reliant as possible.

After taking a holiday break when we travelled around Australia in 2016, I began studying fulltime in 2017 while looking for a new direction; following a dream to live simply, creatively, have a garden, and study horticulture but unsure where the direction would lead me.

I completed Certificate II Horticulture in June 2019, Certificate III Production Horticulture in 2018 and Certificate III Horticulture in 2017 at Tafe NSW, Coffs Harbour Education Campus.

A long-time follower of online media: websites; e-newsletters; social media; any sort of information and communication, I had gleaned a perception of commodified – buy this book, pay to attend that course- permaculture… somewhat misconstrued as it turns out.

The actuality of permaculture as a philosophy and available every-person liveable culture became apparent after not too much research when a deeper interest was piqued upon serendipitous discovery of its offering as a Tafe NSW online course; the list of course units hinting there was more to permaculture than I had believed… beginning with design.

What I discovered was both broader and more nuanced than I had understood before my further reading revealed permaculture’s concertina-like scope confers it traction in every context of day-to-day life, and the personal revelation that permaculture is holistic and inclusive of what I had considered were my assorted interests – environmental sustainability & stewardship, resource and land conservation, regenerative horticulture & agriculture, organics, biodynamics, gardening, living sustainably, local community- but offers much more: not a counterculture but an egalitarian toolkit.

“One of the most important things about permaculture is that it is founded on a series of principles that can be applied to any circumstance—agriculture, urban design, or the art of living. The core of the principles is the working relationships and connections between all things.”
― Juliana Birnbaum Fox, Sustainable Revolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide

Certificate II Horticulture at Tafe NSW Coffs Harbour Education Campus, Feb – June 2019
Certificate III Production Horticulture at Tafe NSW Coffs Harbour Education Campus, 2018
Certificate III Horticulture at Tafe NSW Coffs Harbour Education Campus, 2017

Your thoughts? Comments welcome.

17 thoughts on “Permaculture . . . what’s the attraction?

  1. I’ll definitely be following. It makes me wish I hadn’t given away all my permaculture books when I moved north; some of them might have been useful to you. The one I found most useful for my scale of living in Dorrigo was The Permaculture Home Garden by Linda Woodrow. I still have it, and if you’d like to have my copy, let me know. If you want to read some reviews of it, take a look here:
    I wish you fun and the enjoyable acquisition of wisdom on your new adventure 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kate, I’d love to borrow your copy of Linda Woodrow’s book if you have space to bring it on your next visit. I’ve read several of her articles, subscribe to her newsletter and follow her blog… wonderfully she lists our friend Fig Jam and Lime Cordial under Sites I Visit a Lot.
      I’m really enjoying the study and content, so no effort at all except not venturing down rabbit holes, keeping on topic and to deadlines.


  2. Dale – another definite follower here . . . and so happy to be able not only follow the path you have set for yourself but, quite selfishly, be able to read, look up and learn about a subject which so far has interested from afar.- in bite-sized portions. I have always enjoyed the way you write and well remember the days you and GO lived alongside railway tracks in Sydney-town. And tho’ my current circumstances may not be conducive for a practical approach in your discipline . . . well, I love learning and knowing . . . and methinks I’ll be reading what TAFE on line does have on offer – perchance I’ll find something practical and possible for me . . . Meanwhile enjoy to the fullest !.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll be following eagerly too. I read Mollison years ago, his ideas were very popular in our neck if the woods, though I’ve never been consciously applying these principles. I would also live to do an online permaculture course, but have found the fees prohibitive. If you are aware of any free courses or short courses, please let ne know Dale. In the meantime, I can learn from your posts.


    1. Thank you, I appreciate the interest and support. There are a variety of intensive -ie 2 week- hands-on permaculture courses, one online Permaculture Design Course (PDC) that I know of but maybe others. The Tafe course fees vary according to your situation, the link will take you to the dropdown menu for those details. You’ll get some idea from my blog posts of the course content. And, as I mentioned to Eha there are lots of resources online… books, clips… I’ll include links in my posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Another eager follower here! I find permaculture fascinating too. It is such a sensible, healing practice, one that should be more widely used.”An egalitarian toolkit” is an excellent way of describing it. Have fun with the course, and thanks for taking us along for the ride!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Absolutely! I’m doing something similar with the handouts I create for my students. I think it’s great that the divide between real life and the digital world is blurring, at least in so far as information is concerned. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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