The Good Life – with Hannah Moloney

The Good Life – with Hannah Moloney

Photo credit: PA member Natalie Mendham

I love permaculture because it doesn’t just highlight what’s wrong in the world, but it provides the tools for us to craft genuinely new  solutions for how we could move forward to create the world of our dreams that’s good for everyone, not just for our individual selves. ” Hannah Moloney

PA’s Kym spoke with PA member Hannah Moloney, Good Life Permaculture about her new book, radical hope, living the Good Life in lutrawita / Tasmania and the busy time she’d have doing great things as Prime Minister of Australia for a week!

Thanks for chatting with me Hannah. How did you get into permaculture and how do you think it can address some of the challenges our society is facing?

I’m originally from sunny Kurilpa, Meanjin (West End, Brisbane) and the youngest of five wildly different kids. I grew up on a quirky herb nursery my Dad ran while Mum worked as a Research Librarian at The Native Title Tribunal. By default I absorbed a strong sense of social and environmental justice which has undoubtedly helped shape me into who I am today. Having grown up in a herb nursery (not a permaculture garden) in a rather alternative community the word permaculture was often flitted around. I think I first saw Bill Mollison speak at an organic fair when I was 17 years old. But it wasn’t until I was travelling Australia  when I was 18 and met Annemarie and Graham Brookman at the legendary Food Forest in South Australia that I really learned what it was. Their holistic approach to farming and living hit home with me and I *got it* – deep down in my heart I went “yessssssssss”.

For the next few years after meeting them I was mostly involved in front line activism helping to defend old growth forests in lutruwita / Tasmania. But at some point I looked at myself and knew that I was sad and approaching activism the wrong way for me personally. There’s many different ways to be an activist and my big learning in that time of my life was finding out how I could be an activist forever. That’s when I pivoted and focused 100% on permaculture and community work. I see permaculture as a form of positive activism that addresses all the big challenges of our time.

Many people still don’t realise it’s not just about gardening/farming – permaculture is a holistic design framework that can be applied to anything – including urban planning, the building industry, education, health and wellbeing  and the climate emergency to name a few things. “

Congratulations on your first book – exciting! How did you come to write a book & what was your inspiration?

Thanks! I was incredibly fortunate to be approached by Affirm Press who suggested I write a book. While flattered, I was very hesitant as there’s so many books already – do we really need more? The short answer is yes, we need more story telling of meaningful and positive ways to move through our world. Right now we’re being bombarded by either a denialist and/or negative narrative around climate change. My book is part of a broader movement in reclaiming that narrative and grounding it in reality (can’t dodge the sobering facts) while drenching it in radical hope. Radical hope is the act of living with optimism and courage in the face of the huge uncertainty that is the climate emergency. 

Tell us more about your book – what do you hope folks will take away from reading it and importantly the action they’ll take?

My book answers the question “how to live a good life in the face of the climate emergency”. I draw on my own life as a practical example – but for the first time ever I step into my vulnerability and share my personal experience in coming to terms with our world and my small place in it. It hasn’t been easy. I also highlight other wonderful people and organisations across Australia doing incredible work in their homes, communities, for their whole regions and our country. I have two hopes for people reading my book. The first is that they learn about some of the effective initiatives already happening in Australia (there’s so many) and realise the solutions are already here, we just have to support them. My second hope is that readers remember that we have everything we need to bring about stunning transformation to create a just and safe world for all. Every single one of us ordinary humans are capable of doing extraordinary things when we apply ourselves. 

It’s been a challenging few years with bushfires, droughts and a global pandemic. If you were PM for a week, what changes would you implement to try and address some of these challenges or advocate for?

Oooo, I’d have a really busy week and;

  • Prioritise and centre First Nations engagement and wisdom. As a starting point, this would include adopting the Uluru Statement From the Heart
  • Legislate and regulate non-biased, responsible media as the norm to ensure people are not ingesting blatant misinformation. 
  • Introduce a quota in Australian government to ensure gender equality. This would include good detail about gender diverse people to ensure genuine inclusion.
  • Ban political donations from big industries to prevent corruption. 
  • Transition to 100% renewable energy which would involve closing all coal power plants justly which would include supporting the workers into new industries. 
  • Provide significant financial and technical support to farmers so they can transition towards methods in line with regenerative land management tailored for their context. 
  • Invest in well designed/built social housing that provides secure homes for people.
  • Invest in the arts to re-establish them as part of our country’s foundation of cultural expression and development. 

You are a long term member of PA (thank you!). Why are you a member/why is being a member of PA important? 

I’m a proud PA member as I love belonging to a national community of passionate people dedicated to doing good. It encourages me to strive to be better in my work and as a human, and connects me with people across the country for support, ideas and friendship. 

What else does 2021 hold for you and Good Life Permaculture?

Well, it’s been a big year – as well as our usual calendar of permaculture workshops and landscape design projects – I’m gearing up to launch my book into the world in September. This will coincide with me re-starting fun, educational weekly You Tube videos from my home/garden to share free skills with people and I’m trying my hardest to pull together a podcast based off my book for people to enjoy as well. Plus I’m excited about a new collaboration with dear friends Milkwood which will kick off later this year (watch this space).  But mostly I’m really hoping I can continue to soften into myself to get closer to reaching my full potential so I can do more good in the world – as far as I can tell this  requires a lot of courage and willingness to fail. But I’m going to have a crack! 

How can folks get a copy of your book? (and will there be a second or third! book coming too?)

You can find the book at your local bookstore or here online at Booktopia. You can also ask your local library to order it in. In terms of writing another book – I’d love to! But let’s give birth to book baby number one first and see how that rolls. 

More information:

Hannah is a and Co-Director of Good Life Permaculture based in lutrawita / Tasmania & guest presenter on Gardening Australia. You can follow the journey of Good Life Permaculture via their Instagram, Facebook and You Tube channel for heaps of great inspiration on growing food, implementing permaculture ethics & principles, and building community.

Hannah is a Permaculture Australia Professional member, the national permaculture member organisation and has completed a Diploma of Permaculture, You can find out more and sign up as a member here today, and join Hannah and hundreds of members across the globe who are advocating for permaculture solutions and positive change. Find out more information on VET Permaculture offerings, including the Diploma of Permaculture here.

Graduate stories: Designing for disaster & experiences from the bushfires

Graduate stories: Designing for disaster & experiences from the bushfires

Ben completed a Diploma of Permaculture with Eltham College in Victoria. In this article, Ben shares experiences of using permaculture to design for disaster, and how his VET Permaculture knowledge assisted with the recent bushfires.

“I first heard about permaculture while WWOOFing on farms in New South Wales and Victoria. It seemed to me that the people talking about permaculture had a different approach to their land, animals and life in general, so I took notice. After reading about it online and in books, I became interested in studying and commenced the Diploma of Permaculture in 2012,’ Ben Buggy

Tell us about the permaculture studies you’ve completed and what were the highlights
I completed the Diploma in Permaculture, which included a PDC qualification as part of the study as well as Dynamics Groups training with Robyn Clayfield. There was so much good in that course, but the highlights were often the practical days and field trips, where we visited people to learn about specific skills like bee keeping and cheesemaking.
I remember one morning spent on the course with John Seed, the Deep Ecology pioneer, where he took us through a process exploring the birth of the universe and life on earth. That was a powerful experience that has stayed with me.

Designing for a changing climate & resilient communities is an important consideration for permaculture design – how can we promote this better in Australia (and internationally)?
Permaculture design is a great framework to tackle big problems, such as the climate crisis. It’s a way of thinking that, together with Indigenous knowledge, can be harnessed by leaders at all levels. Also, the grassroots work we can do to share this knowledge within our community can help mitigate the worst effects of the crisis. As permaculture designers we need to be a part of the process – thinking deeply and walking together.  There are so many inspiring permaculture examples and stories around the world that people need to see and hear. I think media like Pip Magazine and Happen Films are doing a great job at finding these stories and sharing them more widely.

You mentioned that your permaculture studies and design helped save your property during the bushfires – can you share some of the design components you utilised and also any lessons learnt?
My family and I were able to stay and defend our home from the Badja Forest fire that burned through our community around Cobargo, New South Wales, on NYE 2020. When my mum and I moved onto a property, which adjoins the vast Brogo wilderness, we knew that bushfire would be a very real threat, and because of my studies I had seen the ways that we could prepare ourselves. That preparation included meeting up with neighbours to talk about our fire plans, as well as a visit from the local RFS and a consultation with permaculture elder and designer, Phil Gall. Our defence fire system was a big investment which we prioritised over a tractor. We installed a large steel tank (110kL)  that would be dedicated to fire fighting, and a decent sized petrol pump, which sends water to a network of misting sprinklers over the house and other buildings. Our sprinkler system is in copper pipe and is designed to endure a firestorm. We have a number of fire hoses that come off that system. We planned to shelter in the house during the fire front. Other things that are part of our fire kit include protective gear, smoke masks and battery radio.

The fire was stopped by the green growth in the orchard, but the bird netting was taken.

During my permaculture course, we visited a couple in Kinglake, Victoria, where we learned about the ways that they prepared for the event of fire, and stayed and defended their home. It was that day when I learned that we would need to prepare our home to fight fire, and started to gather the knowledge that we needed to do it safely.

The fire that burned through our property was not a firestorm, which was raging further to the north of us, but a grass fire that spotted ahead of the front. In retrospect, the system we had designed was not well suited to this type of fire. The house and buildings were soaked and very well protected, but the gardens further out from the buildings were burning, and we didn’t have a mobile option. We also fought fire for about five hours, so we needed to turn the pump off at times to conserve water. We used 80kL of water that night, and kept our buildings from burning.
We are now adding an extra loop of sprinklers further out in the garden, so we can keep fire further away. We really love our gardens, and realised that we hadn’t done enough to protect them. This new ring of sprinklers will help to keep our gardens greener during drought, which is also a great buffer against grass fire. It will also give us more control to direct water where it’s needed.

 The portion of the 90 acre that was unburnt after the fire.

The experience of staying and defending our home was traumatic and exhausting and not something I’d wish on anyone. The weeks afterwards were even harder – living in a home unrecognisable and barely functioning. We would do it again though. We love this place and we grew through that hardship. I want to help other people see that preparing to stay and defending safely is possible.

Would you recommend others study permaculture – and why/why not?

My mum Nina, (Kovo), Manu and Ben on their first outing together after the fire

Yes I would recommend this study to anyone who hears the call. The PDC is a small but mighty program that has the potential to flip thinking on it’s head and open new pathways. You really do see the world through new eyes. Then there’s the extended [VET Permaculture] certificates where we had the time to broaden that understanding through other aspects of our human habitation – working together, self care and planetary reverence.

My experience of permaculture is as a pathway, an open invitation and a responsibility. It is a pathway to a deeper and healthier connection with plants, the natural world, and other people. It is an open invitation to share in the vast wealth of knowledge and loving care that exists all around us. And it’s a responsibility to be a part of the tradition of sustainable human existence. I’m grateful for the opportunity.

More information:

The VET Permaculture studies include accredited Certificate I – IV and a Diploma of Permaculture courses. They are offered by a variety of TAFE and Registered Training Organisations in Australia. More details of where you can enrol in these courses can be found here.

The Permaculture Design Course is generally offered as a 72 hour course, either online or face to face, by permaculture practitioners across Australia and internationally. We’ve collated a list of PDC’s offered by our PA members here, including many which offer a discount to PA members.

Fair Share supporting permaculture projects across the globe

Fair Share supporting permaculture projects across the globe

A huge thank you to our generous donors to PA’s Permafund in the lead up to the end of the financial year. Here are two updates from donors Permaculture Central Coast and Permaculture Principles on why they donate to PA’s Permafund as part of their ‘Fair Share’ ethic.

“Most people have no difficulty defining and living the ethics of ‘earth care’ and ‘people care’, but when it comes to ‘fair share’ it can be challenging. After all, in a world where some of us live lives of considerable privilege while others suffer poverty, wars, displacement, and the loss of their homes due to climate change, who decides what is fair? 

Many permies adopt the philosophy of living simply so that others might simply live. This commitment asks us not to buy what we do not genuinely need and to remember that every human-made thing must take resources from the natural world. Others adopt a philosophy of donating a set percentage of everything they earn to charities that care for the earth and care for people. 

The executive team of Permaculture Central Coast recognises that our organisation also needs to actively demonstrate the ethic of ‘fair share’. We have chosen to support Permafund because it is volunteer run and the Committee includes some highly regarded permies such as John Champagne, and Rowe Morrow is one of the charity’s ambassadors. PA’s Permafund’s focus is providing small grants to permaculture-aligned activities and we see this as an extension of the principle of ‘the least change for the greatest effect’. We all know what difference permaculture can make to people’s lives, particularly in places where there is financial disadvantage. 

Projects are as diverse as tree planting, regenerative farming, seed saving and household food gardening. Perhaps my favourite is a recent project aimed at teaching women in India how to grow food so that they don’t need to rely upon the turtle population for their dinner. This project managed to combine earth care and people care in a truly inspiring way.”

Meg McGowan, President Permaculture Central Coast Inc.

Permaculture Principles (the business, PcP) is all about practicing the ethics and principles of permaculture. Supporting PA’s Permafund through profits from sales of the Permaculture Calendar is one of the ways in which PcP demonstrates the ethic of Fair Share. We must practice our values. The vision for the calendar is of a collective process; to engage with the permaculture community and to illustrate practices and promote examples.

In order to run a growing business like ours, we need to constantly evolve. The principles that are illustrated in the calendar are the design tools we use to adapt to changing needs. As support for Permafund and the calendar grow, we are expanding our reach to support other permaculture enterprises and projects. This multiplier effect will increase our collective impact to help create a positive future in tumultuous times.”

Richard Telford, Co-Director of Permaculture Principles

More information:

Richard Telford and Permaculture Central Coast Inc are PA Professional and Organisation members respectively. You can find out more including how to sign up as a member of PA here.

The 2022 Permaculture Calendar and a great range of permaculture books and resources can be purchased from the online Permaculture Principles shop here. PA members receive a generous discount as one of their member benefits, access the discount code via the members only section of the PA website (log in).

Announcing David Holmgren, Patron of Permaculture Australia

Announcing David Holmgren, Patron of Permaculture Australia

Now as the PA Patron, I see my role as more actively contributing my conceptual and historical perspectives within the movement to support Permaculture Australia’s various priorities and projects towards the vision of an Australia enlivened by permaculture ethics and design principles. As patron I will continue to highlight the lineage from and respect for Indigenous and traditional ways of being inherent in permaculture that can help all Australians come to terms with history and rekindle a shared connection to country.”

David Holmgren, Co-originator of permaculture & Patron, Permaculture Australia

We were thrilled to announce David Holmgren, as the first Patron of Permaculture Australia at the Australasian Permaculture Convergence earlier this year. Here are some words from David on why he agreed to become our Patron and how we hopes his role will support Permaculture Australia and the continual growth of permaculture.

“Popularly seen as a ‘cool’ form of organic gardening, permaculture is better described as a design system for resilient living and land use based on universal ethics and ecological design principles. Although the primary focus of permaculture has been the redesign of gardening, farming, animal husbandry and forestry, the same ethics and principles apply to design of buildings, tools and technology. Applying permaculture ethics and principles in our gardens and homes inevitably leads us towards redesigning our ways of living so as to be more in tune with local surpluses and limits. Beyond the household scale diverse expressions of “social permaculture” are influencing decision making and organisational processes at the community and enterprise scale.

Permaculture is also a global movement of individuals, groups and networks working to create the world we want, by providing for our needs and organising our lives in harmony with nature. The movement is active across the globe in the most privileged and the most destitute communities and countries. Permaculture may be Australia’s most significant export for humanity facing a world of limits. The movement sprang up following the publication of Permaculture One in 1978 and has been a positive agent of influence on grass roots environmental and social innovation for nearly half a century, especially in its country of origin Australia. However the influence of permaculture is still not well understood by the media, policy makers or the general public.

Permaculture Australia is a national member based organisation that has illustrated the  permaculture design principle of “Small and Slow Solutions” as it evolved over the decades. It has a track record in media and communications, accredited training, overseas development assistance and self governance that makes it ready to take on the mantle of truly representing this broad, diverse and deeply influential social movement.

“If a critical mass of Australian local permaculture groups, designers, teachers, activists and everyday practitioners join Permaculture Australia for the benefits of membership then that membership base could trigger much greater benefits here and abroad.  With that critical mass of members and resources Permaculture Australia could give voice to permaculture ethics, design principles and solutions as being relevant to how all Australians navigate the climate, pandemic and associated emergencies that are taking over our individual and collective lives.” 

It could highlight how permaculture draws on the wisdom of indigenous and traditional cultures everywhere, recognising the value of old timer and new comer flora and fauna diversity and using the best from our shared global culture of science and modernity to craft new ways of living in tune with nature’s rhythms.  Further it could speak truth to power about removing the constraints and impediment to the self organised flourishing of our nation’s households and communities.

As the co-originator of the permaculture concept, I have never been an “organisation person” but have always supported Permaculture Australia for the work it has done over the years and for the potential outlined above.  It is often said that trying to get permies to align around a collective process is like trying to herd cats. However I believe Permaculture Australia, can provide that rallying point while respecting the benefits of our anarchic diversity.”

More information:

Not a member of Permaculture Australia? Join us today here and help us strengthen our collective national permaculture voice and advocacy activities.

Change the story to grow a solutions-focused culture: Lis Bastian

Change the story to grow a solutions-focused culture: Lis Bastian

As we face what seem like insurmountable challenges, or what design theorist Horst Rittel
described as ‘wicked problems’, it’s easy to sink into despair and anxiety about the future.
Naomi Klein has said, ‘we’re f#*ked if we believe we’re f#*ked’. I’ve been so grateful to
Rowe Morrow for introducing me to permaculture in 2006 – the year my twin boys turned five
and I sank into despair about the future.”

This months guest post is written by PA professional member Lis Bastian in the Blue Mountains. Lis is involved a range of different projects including The Big Fix, Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute and the Blackheath Community Garden. She was also recently awarded a Community Service Award at the Australasian Permaculture Convergence for exemplary service to permaculture. Read more about her story below.

“Fifteen years later, the solutions-focused system design thinking approach of permaculture has enabled me to get a handle on tackling wicked problems and helped me focus on hope, not despair. Two of the three permaculture ethics are about People care and Fair share, so my main focus has been on the cultural change side of ‘perma – culture’. This has been a natural fit as permaculture designing has merged with the arts and cultural development work I’ve been doing for the last 40 years.

I do this via a charity I founded called The Big Fix, which incorporates the Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute. Our mission is to ‘change the story to grow a collaborative solutions-focused culture’.

The Big Fix has six areas of focus for redesigning our culture. They address how we
collaborate, tell our stories, learn, work, connect and care for the living systems which
support us.

  • Facilitate Collaboration. Tackle wicked problems like climate change & biodiversity
    loss by avoiding social monocultures and growing cross-sector collaborations and alliances
  • Change the Culture by Changing the Story. Recognize that our artists and storytellers are our nitrogen-fixing species to accelerate succession. Work with them to bring back media ownership to communities and for hyperlocal and bioregional solutions media to feed up into global solutions media – a bottom up approach.
  • Encourage Pluriversal Learning. Create community-owned and operated intergenerational and cross-cultural learning and research opportunities that meet the needs of young people and our communities.
  • Create New Economies. Provide training and support the development of social enterprises that put the needs of all living things ahead of profit.
  • Grow the Health of our Communities. Provide public spaces and regular events that focus on what we all have in common – helping us to meet our needs for food security, social connection, creativity, physical activity and time outdoors reconnecting to the natural (versus online) world.
  • Involve Everyone in Redesigning our Systems through an Ecological Lens. Ensure ‘fair share’, social equity, inclusiveness and accessibility by expanding opportunities for free and adaptive permaculture design training, knowledge sharing and participation in community decision making.

On a practical level, we’ve implemented the above six areas by:

  • Working with local cross-sector Alliances
  • Producing The Big Fix Media – Australia’s first solutions media service
  • Trialling Australia’s first Pluriversity
  • Providing social enterprise design, development and mentoring as a new thread in permaculture training
  • Coordinating Blackheath Community Farm and Landcare
  • The Permaculture Garden and Micro-forest for Headspace, Katoomba; and
  • A new micro-farm being planned for the Lithgow PCYC
  • Providing free permaculture for young people in a range of settings through the Blue Mountains Pluriversity and its Permaculture Institute.

I trained and worked as an art teacher at a number of schools in Sydney and then, thirty-four years ago, left my job as an Education Officer at the Art Gallery of NSW to take up the role of curator at Orange Regional Gallery. I was a keen whitewater canoeist who escaped the city nearly every weekend to spend time in the bush. My former partner and I had the dream of buying a farm and leaving the city permanently. The job in Orange helped that dream become a reality. We purchased 80 acres and I began gardening and experimenting with cooking the seasonal food I grew myself. This eventually led to me opening one of Australia’s first bookshop cafes and becoming a food writer for a local paper.
After 3 ½ years I left the Gallery, expanded my work as an exhibiting artist and writer, ran the Bookshop Café, taught Art at TAFE, and became the Regional Arts Promotion Officer for Arts OutWest – a regional cultural development organisation servicing 17 Local Government areas in Central NSW. This involved arts reporting for Prime TV, ABC Radio and a number of other commercial radio programs and newspapers. I eventually closed the Café, became CEO of Arts OutWest, started a magazine called ArtSpeak, launched the Central West Writers’ Centre and ran the Banjo Paterson Festival in Orange.

Just after our twin boys turned one, we moved to Blackheath in the Blue Mountains. We opened a gallery called Stop Laughing This Is Serious, which specialised in the best of Australia’s cartooning and illustration. At this stage a number of people who frequented the gallery, persuaded me of the seriousness of climate change. I subsequently applied to train as a climate ambassador with Al Gore, who’d produced ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. It changed the whole direction of my life. I went on to give over 120 presentations about climate change around Australia and worked with our local community to start a Climate Action Group in Blackheath.

In my search for solutions to the climate crisis I heard about permaculture and enrolled in a PDC with Rowe Morrow. She subsequently invited me to start teaching with her and we set up the Blue Mountains Permaculture Institute in 2007. I was attracted to permaculture because it was about redesigning systems and looking at everything we do through an ecological lens. I loved the focus on People care and Fair share (as well as Earth care), and the concept of the problem being the solution. At the same time I was working closely with Catherine Fitzpatrick, an inspiring climate
strategist from Greenpeace (who went on to work for Greenpeace in China). She kept reminding me that our current situation is so urgent that individual action alone will never produce the change we need in time to avert catastrophic climate change. We need political change as well.

Our Climate Action Group began exploring how we could build fair share and resilience into our local community. Our projects included starting a community market with a Kids Toy Swap Table (run by kids), and a local produce co-op with our own seed company: Crazy Climate Seeds (if they could grow in Blackheath they could grow anywhere). We did bulk buys of solar panels and hazelnut trees, selling over 400 of each and creating a distributed hazelnut orchard through the Blue Mountains; and my husband and I produced a booklet: 101 Cool and Green Things to do in Blackheath, financed by the Blackheath Chamber of Commerce and Blue Mountains City Council.


I became one of Australia’s first Climate Adaptation Officers at Centroc (the Central West Regional Organisation of Councils). After being briefed by the Department of Agriculture and others about future climate predictions for Central NSW, I wrote a speculative fiction story about living in Central NSW in 20 years’ time, imagining we’d ‘permacultured’ the region. I then worked my way back from the story to identify the steps that needed to be taken to get there. These steps became the basis of a 103-page Regional Resilience Strategy Options Paper for Central NSW. It was very well received by all the Mayors and General Managers because it took a practical win/win approach to meeting their communities’ needs.


The most important observation I made during this time was that there was a huge gap between what the media said government believed, and what local governments were actually doing to address climate change – which was a lot! I realised that the reason we weren’t making the progress we should be making, was that mainstream, top-down, for-profit media was controlling the story. I realised that the problem needed to be the solution, so I moved on to take on the challenge of redesigning the way media could operate in our world.

Our Blackheath Climate Action Group morphed into the charity The Big Fix. Our mission became to ‘change the story to grow a collaborative, solutions-focused culture’. We started The Big Fix Solutions Media in 2007 (Australia’s first Solutions Media service), sharing solutions stories from every sector around the world. We wanted to inspire people to action, to keep hope alive, to grow collaboration and to accelerate change by sharing knowledge and thereby reducing the need to reinvent the wheel.

In 2017, Muhamad Yunus identified that the eight richest people in the world owned as much as four billion of the world’s poorest. They also controlled most of the world’s media. To regenerate our social desert, hyperlocal storytellers can give us the nutrients we need to grow bigger and stronger – they can ‘fix nitrogen’ and inspire collaboration between the many grassroots movements to create a mycelial network. This then can generate a healthier and more biodiverse forest from the bottom up.


In 2016, informed by the knowledge and experience I’d gained working in all sectors, I began to work full time on The Big Fix. I started a ‘Youth Café’ weekly drop-in space for young people in Blackheath and we ran a campaign against single-use plastic that resulted in Blackheath becoming the first town in the world where all the businesses agreed to phase out plastic straws. This became the lead story of our first Solutions Magazine which was distributed to every household in the upper Blue Mountains. We partnered with the Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre to ensure
their voice, and the voice of the community, continued to be heard, despite funding cuts. We now also run a monthly hyperlocal print news service for Blackheath which is funded by a different individual, community group, organisation or business every month.

In 2017 we started Blackheath Community Farm to create a public space to grow community and food, and to build a bank of locally acclimatised seed. We meet every Sunday and whoever works at the Farm takes a share of the produce. We’ve also created a Landcare group to regenerate the Zone V bushland around the Farm. In 2018 we launched the Blue Mountains Pluriversity, providing community-owned and generated learning opportunities for young people to meet their needs and the needs of their communities. We began teaching a new type of PDC – free Permaculture and Social Enterprise Design Courses in which young people worked on designing and implementing land-based projects
as well as designing and implementing social enterprises that could provide them with an income as well as meeting the needs of their communities.

We’ve just finished a free course at Headspace in Katoomba which resulted in the design and construction of a Permaculture Garden at the site. It’s providing a safe outdoor, nature based gathering and event space for young people where Headspace practitioners can provide ‘incidental counselling’. It features a micro-forest of nearly 200 natives that emerged after the fires at Mount Tomah (these were donated to us by the Botanic Garden). The wider community rallied around and donated the other materials needed to help young people build this space in the heart of the CBD.

In 2019, Western Sydney University invited us to be part of a community consultation to help reimagine Lithgow to enact the Sustainable Development Goals in a regional city. The WSU campus in Lithgow will now become Maldhan Ngurr Ngurra (Wiradjuri for ‘Workmanship Together, Side by Side’) – The Lithgow Transformation Hub. To support a ‘just transition’ in Lithgow we launched a solutions storytelling site called The Lithgow Sprint, in honour of Marjorie Jackson the Olympic runner who lived in Lithgow. Our goal is to change the story for Lithgow quickly. In April 2021, the Pluriversity will teach the first course on the campus – a free Permaculture and Social Enterprise Design Course. We’ll work with young people to design and build a micro-farm around the PCYC in Lithgow and mentor them to design social enterprises.

Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learnt over the last 40 years is that the best way to influence opinion and encourage change is not to nag and pressure, but to throw the best party so that people want to join you!


Building soil and saving Turtles

Building soil and saving Turtles

The Turtle Survival Alliance – India has a focus on conservation efforts with local communities to safeguard threatened freshwater species in four (of the five) turtle priority areas in India. The project received a 2020 Permafund grant to offer training in vermicomposting and food growing to reduce the reliance on aquatic wildlife for food.

In the three months leading up to February 2021, the project outcomes include the:

  • successful completion of a household-based survey to gather nutrition information of riverine women communities. Preliminary analysis of data suggests the women living in riparian and fishing hamlets bear major responsibility for their families, work harder in the agricultural field and poor economy, and have limited access to a nutritious diet.
  • completion of an awareness and capacity-building program providing training in nutrition, small-scale farming and the benefits of Indigenous crops, and
  • provision of vertical bamboo frames to use for gardening in water logged areas, as well as vegetable seeds and gardening tools.

To reduce the use of chemical fertilizers a large vermicomposting pit has been developed. The lined pit was filled with manure worms, organic materials (such as straw, grass clippings, vegetable peels, manure), and covered with soil.

This is what PA’s Permafund is all about – enacting the the three ethics of permaculture (Earth Care, People Care & Fair Share) and supporting grassroots projects around the globe to build stronger communities.

How can I get involved?

Want to make a difference too? Donate to PA’s Permafund today here and help build food security and stronger communities across the globe. Donations over $2 are tax deductible.