Thanks for taking the time to talk to BB. We love your book ‘Permaculture Design’ and can’t put it down at the moment! Anyway, would you like to start by defining just what Permaculture is – or isn’t – for those encountering it for the first time?

OK, so permaculture is put very simply, 'nature inspired design'. We humans have needs, which we seek to meet from our environment. Permaculture takes what we can learn from how the rest of life does that in a completely sustainable way and provides guiding principles for us to do the same. Nature is always contextual; for anything to survive and thrive it needs to be well adapted to its environment and that included our not so distant ancestors. So first we need to understand, through protracted observation, where we are, its limits and opportunities. Then we can make choices that best suit where we are. We can start at a very simple level and add more detail, the more we learn. It's a very practical thing and one that we can all make use of to improve our lives.

You mentioned elsewhere that learning about permaculture was the ‘single most important thing you did in your life’. That’s pretty amazing, what about the subject made you feel that way?

The fact that it can be applied so widely. I feel like I'll never run out of things to learn as we can apply nature's successful patterns to pretty much everything we do. I also found a strong network of passionate and inspiring people that really gave me hope for the future, probably for the first time. Permaculture is solutions focussed and we humans can be amazingly creative in that department, especially when we are up against limitations.

As well as write, you also teach Permaculture at many levels. In your experience what motivates your students to want to come along and learn about it? Are there any particular reasons that stand out?

People come to permaculture for many reasons, but a common theme is looking for answers. Some people are at a crossroads in their life, seeking something to give them direction, others just looking to be more of a part of a network.

When you’ve had a chance to put on a pair of ‘permaculture goggles’ – as in, look at the world through the lenses of some of its central ideas - it suddenly seems pretty obvious that a great deal of waste and inefficiency is built into the way we do things, do you think Permaculture is a method we could use widely to mitigate these problems?

Absolutely! I believe that permaculture provides us with the means by which we can identify the best ways to meet our human needs. If we are on an energy descent pathway as many suspect, then it can provide us with a better way forward. However, while it's easy to learn it takes a lifetime to master. Such experience comes from getting on and practising it and the best time to start is always now. 

‘Business as usual’ is still the mantra for many but there does seem to be increasing awareness of the need for change. What would you say could be the easiest permaculture principle for someone to apply to their own life, if they’re willing to do so?

'Integrate rather than segregate' - seeks out others of like mind, either locally or online, and collaborate, share knowledge and resources. Build a network around you, that's the only real security there is.

What’s next for you? Any projects or books that we should watch out for?

I'm currently writing about the application of patterns in permaculture design, so I hope to have that book out by the end of 2016.

Thanks again for the chat, before you go, and because we’re obviously a fan of those juicy globes that are the humble beetroot, would you happen to have a favourite recipe for them? 

In juice, with carrots, celery and ginger. Sometimes with a little apple (in season), but it's already sweet enough really and a beautiful colour!



Author Q&A's