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Eco Village learning Intensive Day Four: Permaculture

Permaculture principles for slow living, wellbeing, and selfcare over 50

#Australia #ecovillage #retreat #permaculture #organicgardening @BoneAndsilver

Day Four started with a 6am drive in the opposite direction, so I could teach a Pilates class. But my reward was this view of the extinct volcano Mt Wollumbin or Warning, on whose ancient skirts of lava we live and grow our food.

Once I’d arrived at the retreat, we launched into Permaculture, formally created in the 1970s in Tasmania by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. If you haven’t heard of it, PLEASE research it; I first heard about it in the mid-eighties when my then-boyfriend was finishing his Landscape Architecture degree in Sydney, and I can’t believe so little of it has been adopted. *sighs

“‘Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs. People, their buildings and the ways in which they organise themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture.” Holmgren Design 2018

Permaculture principles for slow living, wellbeing, and selfcare over 50

A truly passionate and highly-skilled Permaculture facilitator called Bunya Halasz talked us through the process of reclaiming land from degraded cow paddocks, and helping it evolve into a rainforest or food garden; we even got to embody being rainforest plants, once we identified our ‘types’, then he took us for a walk in the gardens he has been creating at the retreat centre for the last 5 years; an amazing food forest, with ‘zones’ of use spiralling out from the hub, which is the kitchen:

It was messy, yet organised too, in alignment with the sun’s path, creating microclimates, and making sure every single plant has at least 3 uses, if not 5. It was stunning to imagine living and eating from gardens like this on the proposed Eco Village:

After vegan lunch from those very terraces, we learnt about Regenerative Design & Development, which gave me another great quote about the paradigm shift of living in an Intentional Eco Village community:

Permaculture principles for slow living, wellbeing, and selfcare over 50

#Australia #ecovillage #retreat #permaculture #organicgardening @BoneAndsilver

“Collaborative Abundance not Competitive Scarcity” – Daniel Wahl

The trainer urged us to ‘live the questions together, not just leaving it to the experts, but intentionally seeking out everyone’s views, experience, and opinions.’

But that’s OK: I’m not a rabid gardener, so I don’t really want or need input into the garden designs, or placement of the sheds. Let me have my say about the kitchen though, or the communal hall and stage for creative play…

I guess what I’m coming away with from this Eco Village enquiry process, and which readers have commented on, is a sense of the commitment and the actual energy required to truly live and participate fully in a community, including learning all the languages of negotiation and Dynamic Governance.

Do I have it to spare? I don’t know. Do I want to find it? I don’t know either.

Permaculture principles for slow living, wellbeing, and selfcare over 50 in a Geodesic dome

#Australia #ecovillage #retreat #permaculture #organicgardening #geodesicdome @BoneAndsilver

Yesterday, we ended the day in a process of witnessing others in a one-minute solo practice called The Forum, developed in the Zegg Community outside Berlin, in a geodesic dome; in Zegg, they do it EVERY DAY. I would go nuts; I go to therapy for some of that stuff, or take it to the dance floor and sweat it out. Maybe I’m too much of an Introvert who likes her creative space undisturbed to truly fit in to a community? Maybe that’s why I haven’t lived like that before?

I guess Time will Tell.

We ended this afternoon with an incredible session called Deep Ecology, with  one of its oldest teachers, John Seed, who’s a bit of a legend in the Eco world. But this post is already long, so I’m going to write more about him tomorrow. But just to put all things into perspective, do you know how big the Sun would be relatively, if our Earth was the size of a peppercorn?

Permaculture principles for slow living, wellbeing, and selfcare over 50

Yup, that big. So don’t sweat the small stuff.

Be like a waterlily flower, or a fat happy statue, and spread the love.

In gratitude for Space, watermelon, curious minds, and the value of shifting paradigms, G xO 


  1. What an adventure, and such super photos. I’d be sucking up the gardening knowledge and bypassing the personality transformation, myself. But I like the idea behind the quote, which could be applied widely: “Collaborative Abundance not Competitive Scarcity” – Daniel Wahl. Looking forward to your next instalment!

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  2. Excellent quote … which brings to mind a startling, and yet not surprising, bit of news I heard last night, that Cape Town is expected to run out of water, completely by mid-May. I’m talking about rationing, lining up at distribution centers to get your daily/weekly portion. A combination of bad management, short-term thinking, greed, overpopulation and climate change. They’re trying to turn it around, but a good portion of it is based on ‘when the rains come’.

    Permaculture is possibly the only way the majority of humans will be able to survive whatever the planet is going to look like over the next few hundred years.

    Big Ag/big money/high tech solutions will benefit a few, and perhaps some of that will ‘trickle down’, but I doubt it will have much effect for the everyday person.

    Whether we engage with this type of sharing of resources and ideals or go it alone, or something in-between, there is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the ‘great battles’ we need to engage with as a species if, as a species we are to survive.

    Having said that, I have such because there are so many people, globally, who are already on this path. 😀

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    • My two dear [lesbian] friends are there now, and the taps are meant to be turned off in April they said. As always, ‘the rich folk’ are not so concerned, even though it’s now illegal to fill your swimming pool. One of those two friends is a fracking activist here in Oz, so you can imagine the horror and warnings she is reporting back to her circle here!

      With all the information we have at our disposal, plus all the scientific evidence, and thoroughly viable solutions being offered all the time (some of which have been around since the 1970s), I too do sometimes DESPAIR at our survival… and yet, the young people who are smart and onto it keep me hopeful, including ’17’, and some of the old ‘hippies’ who’ve taught us so far on this Intensive who are still protesting and agitating 50 years on, bless them.

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  3. I love the garden and deep ecology–we’re about the same age, and (I’m gathering) were part of similar cultures though on coasts of different continents in the 80s,which is when I learned these practices, too. It seems that the range of activities–with gardening, cooking, and other mindful approaches to the daily maintenance of a home and community (like hanging the laundry on the clothesline)–would provide time for solitude so an introvert could recharge… I imagine balance could be found or created!

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    • Ooh, yes, that’s a good point Cathy, thanks- I do really need my ‘shut the door and keep the world out’ time! This Intensive is certainly giving me, and us all, good food for thought. I so appreciate your input, G : )


  4. Incredibly interesting (if a little daunting). When I have the energy, which has been up and down lately, I have learning more about the impact of the way I live on the planet and what choices I can make that are more positive, in my home, my garden and my community. There’s a lot to learn (and sometimes I feel irritated that I didn’t learn any of this in school or college or graduate school!). I have just a little bit of exposure to the concepts you are talking about but I’m intrigued and hopeful that there are so many people who care about doing it better.

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    • Hey thanks for your comment La Q; and I must agree- why didn’t we learn this stuff at school?? And more importantly, why are governments not implementing it?! Keep up your learning- there are some great documentaries on Minimalist living, or healthy eating [watch “What the Health” and “That Sugar Film” for starters], and let’s make this world a better place together : ) G

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  5. Ah, proud Tasmanian born gal checking in here.
    All this lush green fills me with hope. Thank you for sharing your eco village experiences. I enjoyed the one I visited in Cuba last year 😊

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    • Thanks for commenting Diana- I love Tasmania- am going hiking there next week for a friend’s 50th! Make sure you check out the next installment re Day 5; lots more lovely pics 😊🌴🌴🌴

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      • Oh that’s so awesome… though I left, Canada bound more than half a lifetime ago.
        One of my magic places (Cape Raoul) is part of a larger hike these days. Apparently exquisite. Hopefully you shall blog a bit about your travels down under, down under 😊

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