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  • PURPLE PEAR FARM in New South Wales, Australia, is a permaculture and biodynamic farm with rotating tractor domes over mandala garden beds, pigs, chooks and some great philosophy.

    Mark, a Permaculture […]

  • Fiona Campbell posted an update in the group Group logo of ShareShare 2 weeks, 2 days ago

    If you are in Sydney you might like to come to this Wed 7 June, arrive 6pm, 6:30-8:30pm.

    The Clovelly Community Branch of Bendigo Bank and Randwick City Council have lined up an impressive group of expert speakers who will give brief presentations and Q&A giving you the information, tools and resources to contribute to a sustainable future.

    Come…[Read more]

  • …wet but convivial — PA's annual gathering and AGM 2017

    Not even the rain and mud could deter the 150-200 people who made their way along Showground Road to Djanbung Gardens for the Permaculture Open D […]

  • It was a large brown paper envelope with a stamp saying ‘Rebublique Francaise’. Rebublique Francaise? France? What could this be I thought as I pried open the seal. Out tumbled a book and a note.
    I hadn’t […]

  • Russ Grayson posted an update 4 weeks ago

    Something worth your time — Randwick – Wed 7 June 6:30 start…

    Solar energy, permaculture, affordable housing, architecture, ethical investment and community gardens… this is what we will hear from speakers at the Sustainability and Social Impact Forum.

    An initiative coming from a partnership between Bendigo Bank and Randwick Council, commu…[Read more]

    Something worth your time — Randwick – Wed 7 June 6:30 start… Solar energy, permaculture,
  • Russ Grayson posted an update 4 weeks ago

    Permaculture’s story…

    In a photo from the past, a mysterious black-clad figure makes its way into the deep shade of the Botanical Ark’s edible forest in Far North Queensland.

    The Botanical Ark was one of the sites visited during the post-convergence tours at APC10. GCG

    Permaculture’s story… In a photo from the past, a mysterious black-clad figure makes its way
  • Russ Grayson posted an update 1 month ago

    The new permaculture design manual in French I mentioned below… Alexia Martinez has volunteered to read and review the book as I cannot speak or read French. Alexis is a permafarmer and educator in teh hills behind the NSW Central Coast.

    Wehn she is done we can publish ALexia’s review on the PA website.

    Good to find people with the right kn o…[Read more]

  • Russ Grayson mentioned Alexia Martinez in a public message 1 month ago

    A big brown paper envelope arrived in the mail, but who would send me something from France?
    Well, it was a new book and I’ll scribble a few words about it soon on the Permaculture Australia website.
    Pity I can’t read French @alexia french-permie-manual

    Surprises… A big brown paper envelope arrived in the mail, but who would send me something fro
  • The Lost Stories
    Remembering Bill in print — the legacy of Bill Mollison from the pages of the Permaculture International Journal

    The Lost Stories are Bill Mollison’s articles published in the print magazine o […]

  • Russ Grayson posted an update in the group Group logo of ShareShare 1 month ago

    30 years later…

    The permaculture open day at Djanbung Gardens here in Nimbin is drawing to a close as the rain which we have had for most of the day continues.

    A surprising number of people attended despite the grey skies, demonstrating that permaculture folk are not easily intimidated by the whims of the weather.

    People are attending from t…[Read more]

    30 years later… The permaculture open day at Djanbung Gardens here in Nimbin is drawing to a close30 years later… The permaculture open day at Djanbung Gardens here in Nimbin is drawing to a close
  • Russ Grayson posted an update in the group Group logo of ShareShare 1 month ago

    On Episode 24 of Impact Boom, Robert Pekin and Emma-Kate Rose of Food Connect Brisbane & Food Connect Foundation share valuable insights, experience and lessons on starting, growing and sustaining community driven social enterprises which look to create systemic change and tackle issues at their root…[Read more]

    On Episode 24 of Impact Boom, Robert Pekin and Emma-Kate Rose of Food Connect Brisbane & Food Co
  • International Permaculture Day 2017 in Sydney got underway with a well-attended showing of the permaculture film, Inhabit, at the  Randwick Community Centre.

    As people came into the hall they were greeted with […]

  • It was the thirteenth Australasian Permaculture Convergence and it attracted people from most Australian states as well as from Aotearoa-New Zealand, Scotland and Thailand.
    Held between October 2 and 5, 2016 […]

  • Story by Russ Grayson, June 2015
    Citizen-initiated food systems could get a funding boost if recommendations coming from a NSW state government proposal get a favourable reception by the environment minister and […]

  • Story by Russ Grayson, June 2015
    A team of urban agriculturists has crowdsourced start-up funding for a new citizen enterprise in the small city of Launceston in northern Tasmania.

    It’s all to do with seeds, […]

  • Story by Russ Grayson. August 2014.
    A RECENT POSTING on the Permaculture Australia-New Zealand and Permaculture Victoria Facebooks by Melbourne-based permaculture practitioner, Miriam Bakst, raises an important question for permaculture’s reputation.


    Miriam asks whether permaculture practitioners engaging interns could be breaking the law. It is the arrangement of those internships that are core to her question.

    I wonder if this is something that will be discussed in a focused way within permaculture or whether it will become one of those things that surface from time to time without resolution. What I think would be useful would be for those permaculture people employing interns to join this discussion so as to create a more comprehensive appreciation of the issues around internship.

    I have encountered people unhappy with conditions of permaculture internship, people who felt exploited. One such encounter was some years ago and happily that woman was not alienated from permaculture and continues to do good work in Australia and overseas, though without branding it as permaculture. Another might simply forego participation in permaculture.

    Other critical comments — never to my knowledge made publicly — have been about permaculture educators offering internships on their properties after the interns complete their Permaculture Design Course there. The comments have been about hours and intensity of work, including the requirement that interns pay for their internship. To clarify, those informal comments were not critical of all permaculture establishments offering post-education internships.

    The internships-in-permaculture question seems to be about:
    • what constitutes a bona-fide internship arrangement on permaculture enterprises?
    • how ethical is it to ask interns to pay for their internship when they are providing free labour?
    • what working conditions should interns expect?
    • how should internships on permaculture properties or in permaculture enterprises comply with permaculture’s Second Ethic of Care of People?
    This is where I would like to hear from those offering internships.

    My understanding of internship in general is that it is made up of the provision of skills, services or labour, without cost, in return for learning. The more benevolent of those offering internships might provide a small allowance to the intern.

    We can differentiate internship from voluntarism as the latter might offer no learning outcomes for the volunteer. In an internship there is expectation of a win-win arrangement: labour in return for learning relevant to the intern’s goals. Voluntarism is critical to permaculture as it is how permaculture associations and other entities work. A volunteer can get up and leave at any time, and volunteers do. An internship supposedly has a more formal arrangement regarding commitment for a period of time.

    A question that arises is whether interns are covered by state labour law, such as the provision of workers compensation, hours of work, conditions of work, workplace safety. If they are taken on by a permaculture business I assume they are so-covered as they would probably be classed as employees with all the legal responsibilities of the employer to the employee. I don’t know the answer to this, however why I ask is because, in NSW, volunteers are classed as workers under Worksafe legislation. That implies an obligation on permaculture associations or anyone else who has volunteers working with them. That, obviously, is virtually all permaculture organisations in NSW. It is also something virtually all those organisations are ignorant of. It really is something for them to think about.
    The question of internships in permaculture is entangled with the proposal that surfaces now and again of defining a set of standards for permaculture work, especially that done in public places.

    This is probably a question for Permaculture Australia, being the closest entity we have to a representative body (becoming that was a wish of participants at APC10) and being the organisation that owns Australia’s national permaculture workplace training program known as Accredited Permaculture Training.

    A set of standards would stipulate what those hiring permaculture designer-practitioners should expect by way of design functionality, suitability, follow-up support and quality of finish. How and to whom they would be applied requires much discussion. Their publication on the Permaculture Australia website, however, would create a reference for those, whether private citizens or local governments or other institutions, contemplating hiring or engaging with permaculture business or community associations. At worst, the standards would be disregarded and we would be left with the current variable situation. At best, it could uplift the reputation of permaculture.

    One reason that standards might be important is that they recognise the reality that permaculture designers and practitioners are legally liable for the consequences of the work they do. I wonder whether this and other regulatory, local government planning and worksafe legislation is discussed at all in permaculture design courses?
    The WWOOFing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) organisation already has standards or guidelines on what WWOOfers and their hosts should expect.

    To avoid further allegations (an allegation may be true, untrue or partially true) of exploitation by permaculture hosts accepting interns, a set of standards for internships could include:
    • hours of work
    • provision of food
    • provision of accommodation to a suitable standard
    • insurance cover for the intern

    can anyone enlighten me on how this is presently done, whether interns are covered by something like workers compensation or public liability insurance and how it might be done — is it covered by state legislation?

    • a learning package for the intern
    • host expectations
    • and more that is relevant and important and needs discussing.

    The question I have left off this list is that of whether interns pay for their internship. If they do, then it it an arrangement of payment plus free labour in return for learning? The follow-up question that inevitably hangs off this is whether this is exploitation. I guess that would partly depend on how much was asked for, however there lingers the notion that I think many would have as to whether paying plus free labour equals exploitation. The latter suggests the possibility that internships could be turned into a business model in permaculture, turning those offering them into de-facto training organisations.

    Does anyone know the legalities around this?

    I think the Second Ethic comes in here, as does Stephen Covey’s ‘win-win’ as the basis of equitable, mutually beneficial deals, one of his famous Seven Habits. For Covey, the ethical choice is ‘win-win or no-deal’.
    In this article, I’ve asked those in-the-know about some of the legal questions hovering around interns in permaculture. I’ve asked that those offering internships comment so as we gain a broader impression of issues around hosting interns. Likewise, hearing from past or current interns would be potentially revealing.

    What would also be enlightening is for hosts to explain:
    • why they charge for internships
    • what the cost covers
    • what they consider a fair charge
    • what they provide in return, training-wise, to the intern.

    Some might think it impertinent to ask this, what they might consider a private matter. It is not impertinent, however, because what they do impinges on other intern hosts and on the design system and those within it generally.

    Permaculture operates within the reputation economy. Just as for businesses in general, it is less what the owners and spokespeople say and more about what others say about the business or organisation that becomes its reputation. What people say spreads though social media, such being an automatic function of networks.

    Gaining a fuller idea of how internships in permaculture work and how they could be improved is key to maintaining a good reputation for the design system, a little of which has already been lost among individuals who have had negative internship experiences. Generally, permaculture currently basks in good reputation. Tackling these touchy, difficult issues like internship in a creative way will help keep it that way.

  • Thanks for your response.

    Are you sure moving water can compress air wothout moving parts in the compressor? Irrespective, compressed air technology is clearly a means of converting the energy of falling water […]

  • Hi Dhammadaasa…
    Compresses air can be a source of stored energy, however it requires another energy source to compress the air. The primary energy source that compresses the air could be hydro or heat energy, […]

  • Mark Brown writes…

    Entry to the movement is for all but the next step should be the PDC.

    It can be such an issue but it remains important as we see so many of the people who do their PDC at Purple Pear […]

  • To answer John’s question we have to ask the deeper question that underlies it: does Permaculture Australia want to be a quasi-professional organisation or a social movement?

    If your answer is a […]

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