Interview with Richard Telford from Permaculture Principles
Tell me about Permaculture Principles – how it began, what you sell, a bit about the company/business related to permaculture, who’s involved etc.
I developed the Permaculture Principles website in 2007 as a way to introduce the concept to a wider audience and make independent permaculture publications more widely available online. This coincided with David Arnold’s idea to produce a Permaculture Calendar, using the icons as a theme for each month. The calendar concept and website were launched together at the 9th Australian Permaculture Convergence in Sydney, March 2008.
Oliver Holmgren joined me in 2013 to further develop the website and we formed a company structure for the business in 2017. We began sending out publications for Holmgren Design, and wholesale for independent publishers on the melliodora.com website, specialising in permaculture related titles. Our titles include the work of David Holmgren, Bill Mollison, Rowe Morrow, Ross Mars, Alanna Moore, Formidable Vegetable and most recently Samual Alexander, along with many other familiar names too.
We moved the operations from our home, to a dedicated ‘warehouse’ space to store, pack and send books from – which is at my mothers place in Seymour, Victoria. Christine joined us in 2018 and plays a key role in managing the day to day operations at the ‘warehouse’.
Our business was set up to support people to learn more about permaculture. We do this while providing for the needs of independent authors to get their books ‘out there’, so that they can focus on doing what they are good at. We help permaculture minded people avoid the ‘online supermarkets’ that give very little back to the authors and don’t work in line with our values. Our model is the ‘Community Supported Agriculture’ of the book world.
How did the idea for the calendar start? And how many years of calendars has there been?
The calendar concept was developed by David Arnold, and I worked with him in producing the first calendar in 2008 (the 2009 calendar). David handed over the coordination of the project to me in 2012 (2013 calendar onwards), but has continued to support the calendar during the final design and writing phase. I developed the moon planting guide which was included from 2014 onwards and has been emulated by others since. This is our 12th calendar. You can see all the covers here along with a bit of an overview: https://permacultureprinciples.com/permaculture-calendar/
Where is the most furtherest a field you’ve sent the calendars or seen on display?
The calendar was designed to be used internationally, and has been for sale in Australia, the UK, USA and New Zealand. Teachers use the images from the calendar to help illustrate examples of the design principles in action around the world.
Why did you agree to support Permaculture Australia – and particularly Permafund – with profits from the calendar?
It has been important for me to ‘walk the walk’, so the entire design process, production and sale reflects the ethics and principles that it displays. We have always encouraged community participation in the contributions for the calendar, so I felt the need to give back to the permaculture community. Permafund was set up for this purpose. It/s great to support the effort that has gone into establishing the charity, and to ensure that it can continue. I hope that our model can inspire others to ‘return the surplus’ and demonstrate our ethics.
What is your favourite photo that has been featured in the calendar (or top few photos) and why?
I think the 2014 calendar cover image of baby Verti in the wheelbarrow with a huge cauliflower would have to be my favourite. The image really captures what wholistic living is all about – and it’s soooo cute. Images of Verti have appeared in calendars since, so you can watch her grow up. This year she’s stroking pigs in the sun.
Anything else you’d like folks to know?
We would love to have more contributions from the permaculture community to the calendar, this can be done on instagram using #permaculturecalendar or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The permaculture calendar is a great learning tool that helps embed the principles into daily life, with daily reminders of garden activities to take advantage of the lunar rhythms. A subtle way to introduce permaculture to new people, and a useful resource for practitioners. Available from permacultureprinciples.com.
To find out more about the work of Permafund or set up a ‘Fair Share’ donation please go to: https://permacultureaustralia.org.au/permafund/