Robyn Francis

[styled_image w=”400″ h=”300″ lightbox=”yes” image=”×300.jpg” align=”right”]ROBYN FRANCIS works internationally as a permaculture teacher, designer, activist, writer and presenter since doing her PDC in 1983.
One of the founding directors of Permaculture International Ltd and of Permaculture College Australia she lives at Djanbung Gardens permaculture education and demonstration centre in Nimbin Ntn NSW.  Key achievements include designing Jarlanbah permaculture hamlet, NSW’s first community title and ecovillage development and her involvement establishing the Accredited Permaculture Training™.
She has taught well over 100 PDC’s including co-teaching the first permaculture course in India with Bill Mollison in 1987. Robyn has developed and delivers a range of advanced courses for permaculture practitioners and those involved with community development, sustainable aid and professional design. She is currently one of the APT administrators and on the PIL board.
Passions include bamboo building, gourd crafting, gardening, cooking and generally ‘walking the talk’.
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Russ Grayson

FOR ME, it all started with this question: how do we make our cities more humane, vital and resilient places in which to live?
I still don’t have an answer to that but by now I have a few clues. One of them is that by gathering people together around something they all have in common — food, for instance — we can build a sense of place in the city and, together, make it that humane, vital and resilient place in which to live.
That’s why I came, largely by accident, to consulting on community food systems…. to work with people to encourage them to collaborate and create the types of food systems that meet their needs. We do this by designing, cooperating and creating then sharing what we learn so that those who follow have an easier time of it.
Much of my work has been with people and local governments wanting to set up community food gardens… consulting with community garden teams to get them started, working with those established to develop submissions for assistance to their councils and to develop plans of management…  and writing policies for local government interested in enabling community gardens.
It’s about more than access to good, fresh food. That’s important, but so is developing social capital — the skills that come with setting up community initiatives. All of this — the fresh, local food, the development of skills to manage community enterprises — are means to building that urban resilience so that out cities, communities and neighbourhoods can adapt rapidly and creatively to forces influencing them from outside.
In assisting people set up community food systems, the role of the social entrepreneur seems to be the best way to get things done. That’s because it is future-focused and builds a momentum that is absent from business-as-usual or from government (thought there is definitely a role in government for the civic entrepreneur).
New values, some of which are also old, are coming to the fore among the innovators in our society… values like collaboration rather than competition, creating rather than criticising, making a contribution rather than selfishness, innovating rather than business-as-usual… it is these that I find compelling because they are solutions-oriented.
I’ve worked in food security, food production and community food systems in Australia and in projects in the South West Pacific and what I find in all of these places are people working to make a difference to their own lives and to the lives of those in their communities.
People gather around food and, when done well, that creates possibilities for personal and community initiatives that lead to real progress.
I taught the Permaculture Design Certificate with a Sydney permaculture teaching team through the 1990s as well as the Permaculture elective of the TAFE horticulture certificate. Once an active member of Permaculture Sydney (now defunct), in 2000 – 2001 I served on the Board of Directors of Permaculture International Limited, assisting in the establishment of organisation’s website and editing its newsletter. My return to the Board was in 2008 and I continue to serve on it.
My recent work has been in community food system consulting is supplemented by my long standing affiliation, currently as media liaison and consultant, with the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network and with international development agency, TerraCircle, in the South West Pacific.
In relation to urban food systems, in 2010 I was urban agriculture adviser to the Callum Parklands masterplanning assessment and produced the Living Smart manual for the NSW Living Smart course in personal and community sustainable living, which I assist in teaching for Randwick City Council. I am currently afiilated with Sydney Food Fairness Alliance and the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance. Currently, I’m working for the City of Sydney on a one year assignment as coordinator of the City’s community garden and volunteer program.

Kat Szuminska

[styled_image w=”400″ h=”300″ lightbox=”yes” image=”” align=”right”]Permaculture International is an organisation with massive potential to help make focus all our positive work in Australia, and we need all the help we can get, email me if you want to contribute.
Kat first arrived in Australia 10 years ago and recently became an Australian citizen. Ever enthusiastic about her Blue Mountains home ” it’s an incredible place, all the villages run across the ridgetops here, and so everything we do has a direct effect on a World Heritage Park around us. We can literally see our impact on the valleys below. We have a terrific opportunity to show that we can live sustainably  and even in a way that’s mutually beneficial with our environment. More people need to know that permaculture helps that goal become very achievable”.
Kat’s involvement in Permaculture began with an introduction to a friend had studied Permaculture with Rowe Morrow, and had a strange enticing way of talking about the world, showing there was something to learn here. Searching for a local course up popped an opportunity to study with permaculture’s intrepid farmstead heroes, Nick and Kirsten of Milkwood Permaculture followed by a classic 72 hour design course with Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton within a year. Thus began a full time quest for enjoyable sustainable living. “Permaculture came together right here in Australia, so here’s a place that’s stuffed to the gills with world class permaculture practitioners and educators, you’d be mad to live here and not to take advantage of that. I’ve learned heaps from all these great teachers, and now I’m out here making my own mistakes…”
Kat is a volunteer director with Permaculture International, volunteers at “the biggest little food co-op in Australia“, is helping set up a community farm co-op in nearby Mt Tomah, studying permaculture with Riverina Institute, community gardening and running a charity which helps give people greater access to public sector and political information. “I have gone from having one full time job having six, and I love every minute of it. All the projects I contribute to are in their own way helping us rethink and redesign the ways we live.
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Terry Avery

[styled_image w=”400″ h=”300″ lightbox=”yes” image=”” align=”right”]Terry is a serving as a director on the board of Permaculture International Limited. He is also a co-convenor for Permaculture Cardinia Baw Baw which is a local group of Permaculture Melbourne and an ordinary committee member of Permaculture Melbourne.
“My permaculture journey commenced after we graduated from Teacher’s college in the 1970s and we had an interest in growing our own food and perhaps having some acreage to live a sustainable lifestyle. Reading Grassroots magazine I became aware of Permaculture and went to hear Bill Mollison speak in Queenbeyan in 1995/6 and subsequently read “Introduction to Permaculture”.
“Since the 1970s we had grown our own veggies wherever we lived using manures and mulch to build up a bed but it wasn’t until 2000 that we were able to buy our current property. Unable to build a house straight away, that would have to wait until 2009 we established an orchard with a variety of stone and pome fruits. I have since branched out and experimented with berries and perennial vegetables and now have over 60 fruit and nut trees and numerous berries. I have become enamoured with the concept of a food forest since I undertook my PDC with Rick and Naomi Coleman in April of 2008 and the experience has made me rethink how I approach the development of our property and how I look at the landscape. This was followed up in 2009 by attending a Food Forest Workshop at Robyn Francis’ Djanbung Gardens near Nimbin. We moved into our new house mid-2009 and I have made steady progress in turning the orchard and house surrounds into my version of a cool temperate food forest and enjoy the challenges of experimenting with sub-tropical fruits in the West Gippsland bioregion.”
Terry started his career as a Primary school teacher in rural Victoria and then joined the Army as an educational officer. This necessitated moving every few years, mostly up and down the east coast to Townsville, the Gold Coast and Canberra with the bulk of his time in Victoria. He has had long term postings overseas to Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and Thailand. He retired after 26 years and now does Army Reserve work as an educational officer one day a week. His other interests include woodworking and Tai Chi.

Julia deBrosses

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by Russ Grayson

The author met Julia at the Permaculture Research Institute in the mid-1990s, Julia was active in the NSW permaculture scene during that decade.
She later traveled in Brazil and has since settled there.
The author first met Julia when he interviewed her for the now defunct ‘Green Connections’ magazine.
The article made much of her as an inspirational young woman making her own path through life, inspired by permaculture.