The drought, catastrophic bushfires and now the global Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been a bumpy start to 2020 and it’s only July, yikes. Gaps in community and household resilience coincided with a huge spike in folks wanting to know about backyard food production, sustainable living and permaculture. Social media groups, including the PA Facebook group, had hundreds of new member requests each day. PA members reported overwhelming demand and shared an incredible range of free resources here to support the requests coming in.
In the words of PA member Meg McGowan aka Permacoach “Permaculture is suddenly very popular”!
PA’s Kym asked several of our PA members the question – why is permaculture so hot right now? And will it last?
Exerpt reproduced with permission from ‘Why permaculture is so hot right now‘, Meg McGowan, Permacoach
” It’s not just a renewed interest among those of us that have always felt aligned to the ethics and principles of permaculture, but a surge among people that have never heard of it before. Why? At a pragmatic level, permaculture offers people and efficient, low cost way to produce some food. With the isolation restrictions and economic burdens of Covid-19 an increased interest in home grown food is understandable. Growing food saves money, but it’s about so much more than that.
Shortages in supermarkets have brought home to many people the risks of relying upon others for their basic needs. People recognised that being able to feed themselves from their own garden would provide a buffer against the collapse of the industrialised food system. Permaculture can teach them to do that. Local farmers recently saw a huge boost in income as many people woke up to the obvious solution to an insecure model; buy locally grown and produced food and you build food security.
But permaculture goes beyond growing some herbs and veggies, or keeping some chickens in the back yard. It’s an ethically based pattern for designing and evolving systems that increase ecological health while providing for human needs. I think this is why it’s suddenly so hot right now. We have come through a summer, an autumn and the beginnings of a winter where the destruction caused by human consumption and greed has finally become impossible to ignore.”
Michael Wardle, Savour Soil Permaculture
“Over the last few months since the drought, fires and the COVID crisis, which still continues in many areas, I have found there has been a huge increase in not only my design services but the courses offered here. To the point where one sold out in ten hours! As to why?. Well, when we look around at nature, we see permaculture is surrounding us. Things that are in a beautiful symbiotic relationship, the mutualism of living things showing the dynamic equilibrium, supporting each other where the system as a whole grows in wealth.”
“I think people are starting to understand that we cannot keep going on “as normal” and that things can change if we want to or have to. Again, the recent episodes have highlighted this. We do not “do” permaculture, but do things in a permaculture way. The idea of building resilience in the face of these events has become very appealing to many and seeing some of the self-reliance that can be offered by looking at things with a permaculture lens.”
John Champagne, Brogo Permaculture Gardens
“Following the wildfires here on the far south coast back in January,there was a steady stream of consultancy work visiting burnt properties and that continues today six months later. Then the COVID-19 lockdown saw an increased interest in household food growing and bookings onto permaculture courses.
PA Life member and permaculture co-originator David Holmgren also wrote about this topic in a recent article stating that:
“while we [in the permaculture and kindred movements] have been doing some combination of modelling and teaching about the ways to live better with less, it has remained an option that, until the pandemic, most people had little inkling of or interest in. The current explosion of interest in home-based self-reliance, like previous waves of interest over the decades, is countercyclical to the faith and fortune in mainstream economic values and options. But the intensity of this downturn has acted as a slap in the face for many people dozing in the comfortable cocoon of consumer capitalism.”
So what now?
Meg McGowan, aka Permacoach, offers these final thoughts, as an exerpt from ‘Why permaculture is so hot right now
“If you are new to permaculture then know that this movement is full of people willing to help. There are plenty of online communities but please try to find permaculture people locally and connect with them. Changing human society will require us to be geographically connected and to figure out how to get along with people that don’t share our biases.
If you already know some permaculture then it’s time to step up. The planet needs you. The task is huge but collectively we each only need to do a little. Start a book club and read any of the great permaculture books together. Set up a produce share, or a permaculture learning circle. Join your local and national permaculture bodies and volunteer some of your time to advancing permaculture. Find your social edges. Where does permaculture begin and end in your local community? Which edges are already closely aligned or supporting what you are doing and how can you each share more with the other?”
More information and resources:
Permaculture Australia is the national permaculture member based organisation. Sign up as a member here today and help us advocate for permaculture solutions. You can also follow Permaculture Australia on Facebook, Instagram and join our Facebook group. If you have skills to share and want to assist with promoting permaculture further, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
Brogo Permaculture Gardens, Permacoach and Savour Soil Permaculture are professional members of Permaculture Australia, and offer a range of courses, events and property tours. Check out their websites or follow their respective social media page(s).