Story by Russ Grayson, 28 September 2014


  1. Take a jar.
  2. Add a little water.
  3. Add some seeds of the edible type.
  4. Stand the jar upside down with some sort of fine mesh filter over the open end to allow the water to drain.
  5. Place in warm location.
  6. Swish with water daily.
  7. Wait until seeds sprout.
  8. Eat.

Yes, we’re sprouting seeds if you didn’t guess.
Sprouting seeds is something like sprouting permaculture, and like those seeds that grow into something edible, so has permaculture.
It, too, started as a seed… let’s call it a mind-seed, the seed of an idea… then it sprouted and started to grow a strong trunk whose cells are its set of ethics and its sets of principles and whose xylem is the imaginations and energy of its participants. Later, the trunk started to grow the branches of permaculture’s various manifstations — landscape and garden design, farming, community economics, education, journalism and writing and… food.
Food. It has become something of a focus in permaculture. Not surprising, really, it’s one of those basics that decades ago Abraham Maslow named as among the human needs that all further personal and community development is based on… food, along with shelter, appropriate clothing, clean water, personal safety.
So, it’s not surprising that permaculture-inspired people started food gardens in their backyards, becoming the latter-day exponents of a long-running Australian tradition of self-provisioning from the garden.
That done, some thought to venture further afield, out into the community. They planted the mind-seeds that grew into community gardens and small farms and other community-based intiatives. Then, imagination took hold again as the more adventurous and entrepreneurial set up or joined small food distribution systems… the food co-ops, CSAs (community supported agriculture schemes), organic food buyers groups and the like. The tree of permaculture was becoming well-branched, forming a canopy below which sheltered a myriad initiatives all grown from their own mind-seeds.

The gardens of permaculture

Some of these gardens of permaculture I have walked among — in the sticky tropics of Far North Queensland there was Bruce Zell’s home food forest, complete with its squadron of clucking chooks… in the subtropics there was the educational food gardens of Northey Street City Farm and, a little further south, the specimen plantings and seed production garden at the Seed Savers Network in Byron Bay… down in warm temperate Sydney there was our own home garden with its veges and fruit, and now our apartment block’s shared garden in which the woman living upstairs grazes on the young asparagus shoots as they emerge from the soil… in cool temperate Melbourne were all those productive community food gardens and CERES’ urban market gardens… and offshore in the same climatic zone Hannah and Anton’s home garden being planted high on an east-facing ridge in South Hobart.
Inspiring all. And all part of something that, just as the permaculture design system did, has also germinated and is now growing a strong trunk and branches of many kinds. Just as permaculture is a social movement noted for its diversity and distribution, so too is the emerging fair food movement.


Fair food? Yes… food that is fair to the grower — whether that is the home gardener freely choosing to plant traditional seed varieties from which they can collect, store and later plant the seed or whether it is the small farmer getting a good price for their produce, a price that makes their profession of farming economically viable and socially beneficial. And fair, too, to food processing businesses such that they can continue to make their products produced from Australian-grown available. It is also food that is fair to buyers and eaters in that it offers good nutrition at an affordable price.
It is this that we celebrate during Fair Food Week, a new national event on Australia’s calandar. And it is this event to which the Australian Food Soversignty Alliance invites the inhabitants of perma-world to attend or to create an event for. In doing so you, perma-kind, keep alive and grow that permaculture tradition of focus-on-food, that tradition the first-born of permaculture’s siblings, that first branch to grow from that strong trunk of the permaculture tree — its own Yggdrasil, its own world tree.
So, shall we of permaculture meet during Fair Food Week to show and tell just what we and our organisations are doing in this great adventure of food sovereignty?
Find out how and find Fair Food Week events.

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