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A Step and a Stride: From Academia to Abundance

How exactly did I get here? When did I embark on this journey of abundance? Here I am looking back on my life, and seeing how it all started….

Raised on 75 acres of subsistence farm I was an unlikely candidate to moving to the big city of Montreal at age 20. After five years studying the discouraging field of Environmental Science and Human Environment, I found myself at a loss for solutions. Academia only paralyzed me in face of environmental challenges, and with my employment with Environment Canada preaching contorted, underwhelming solutions and finger wagging, it was all taking its toll. My studies and career where failing me greatly.

Fortunately, I stumbled across the video Greening the Desert by Geoff Lawton of PRI Australia. In these 5 min and 21 seconds, all I could recollect and everything I knew completely changed. My mind fundamentally shifted, my emotions and my sense of hope erupted. This project and this design science were sheer enlightenment to me. It was so simple; four months to transform a desert into a food forest with figs, five minutes to transform a life. Permaculture had taken me on its journey to abundance.
I proceeded to pour out my dreams and my woes to Geoff in the extensive four-page email requesting my acceptance at PRI Australia to study under him and learn the full expression of this philosophy of design. He recommended I study under an experienced and blossoming former student of his, Jesse Lemieux of Pacific Permaculture. I followed suit and found myself participating in the world recognized 72-hour PDC in Denman Island, British Columbia, Canada, in June 2009. This experience altered my perception of design, economy, community, and environmental solutions — most of which expresses the fundamental element of observing nature.

This is where I took ‘the step’ as Geoff says: “all you need to do is step over the line… it then turns from a step to a stride, to a pace, turns into a run, into a charge.” That winter of January 2010, I traveled to PRI and began to live my new life. Learning by doing, side by side with PRI interns, we learned not only the theory but also the hands-on practice and challenges in running an institute. After two and a half months at the PRI, I left with a teacher training certification, an earthworks certification and a sense of confidence and pride in what I was now charging towards. This began a new chapter in my journey. With my social enterprise P3 Permaculture already working on client designs and consultations, I then embarked upon facilitating permaculture design certifications in the urban setting in the great city of Montreal, Canada.

Nearly two years later, P3 is now working with a multitude of community groups to help in their collective garden designs, and the incorporation of permaculture techniques. We are facilitating six PDCs in 2012 from Costa Rica to Lebanon. Our main focus as a social enterprise is to develop our social impact, support community initiatives and develop social economy.
Starting March 2012 we are launching a whole new series of courses across the Atlantic Ocean.

Our season starts at Finca Fruicion Costa Rica, with a full 72-hour, 2-week PDC March 6th to 20th, followed by an optional third week of implementation from March 21st to 26th. This course offers child care with our Conscious Kids Camp and sponsorship for local Costa Rican farmers.

We then have courses in May, June and July in Nova Scotia Canada, and in September we have been invited to facilitate a course in Lebanon, which will also include sponsorship of local farmers. We finish off our 2012 series with a French PDC in Quebec. Our Journey has just begun as we search far and wide for a nest to establish a permaculture institute for demonstration and education at the ground level.

All of this has come from five minutes of strayed research on YouTube. A world has been uncovered and one that has filled my life with so much passion that it has taken me two years to reflect on its beginning. Without Geoff and Jesse, I would not be here today. So the many who have thanked me for helping them to see the hopeful possibilities also thank you both. For all your good hard work, I sincerely thank you.

The moral of the story is to have hope, and design your present and thus your future. Follow your heart and question what you have been told. I have seen and done things that academia does not even recognize and that the government would never support. We are helping locals and inspiring ourselves and others to join the shift for positive change!

So take the step over the line, and join the thriving abundance. The future is ours for the making, with permaculture design.


  1. Great post.
    One question: What is the man doing in the last photo, with the bamboo? What is the purpose of the weaving, and what purpose is the bamboo going to serve?


    1. Hi James,

      Carolyn Payne is right, Geoff had us weave the bamboo as a rehbar replacement. It was used to reinforce the concrete. As a test actually, I wonder how it is holding up? we were concerned that as soon as moisture got in there that it would begin to rot.

      Sorry for the late reply.


  2. Is there (or was) a permaculture project running in Europe? I’m curious about how it would go in a temperate, continental climate (freezing in the winter, rainy in the spring and rather dry in the summer).

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