Terania Creek, next to PRI Australia’s Zaytuna Farm
The inaugural International Permaculture Day — today — appropriately falls on the first Sunday of May, often known as ‘Mayday’. Permaculture, and its appropriate and holistic design science, is a powerful response to the world’s distress signals. Thankfully, more and more are coming to realise this, and this new peg on the annual calendar is a great opportunity for the uninitiated to get familiar with, and find some hope and security in, our transformative work.
Geoff Lawton (far right) begins the PRI’s International Permaculture Day
tour of Zaytuna Farm’s permaculture systems.
I read just a couple of days ago of a survey conducted very recently in Australia, where many issues that could worry one were listed, and people were asked to single out what concerned them the most. Pushing aside environmental concerns, climate change, etc., Australians shared that their biggest concern was their job security and future prospects. This is something I’ve predicted for many years, and is worth thinking about on International Permaculture Day. We need to recognise that economic hardships will cause people’s priorities to shift into personal survival mode. When that happens, which it is, then thoughts about ‘being green’ go out the window. You can’t afford solar panels, permaculture ‘lifestyle blocks’ and home retrofits, etc., when you’re struggling to make ends meet, or if you’re concerned about your future ability to do so. When people are living hand to mouth from day to day, investment in people and place becomes onerous or impossible. A practical example of this is shown in the US now, with restaurants over the country going bankrupt, whilst McDonalds is opening more and more stores. People who can’t afford to eat a square meal will instead buy some soul- and planet-destroying crap from the $1 menu. And, when businesses struggle against higher resource costs, their tendency to seek to externalise the true costs of operation only intensifies.
It’s called a ‘race to the bottom’.
Not far from Zaytuna Farm is the beachside party town of Byron Bay. While the
town parties, there’s a storm brewing…. Our role is to help people prepare for it.
I share these thoughts as I think it’s critical that people across society, around the world, see permaculture as a central part of building the much-needed new economy — and that they’re inspired to see a place for themselves in that economy. Making the transition to smaller scale and local is inevitable as the sun sets on the cheap energy era, but the sooner it occurs, the less turbulent that transition will be. We as permaculturists need to keep a smile on our faces, hold out the alternative, and help people reskill and find their place — and resilience — in an increasingly uncertain world.
Today we saw more than fifty people show up for our own little International Permaculture Day event — an open day, with a free tour around Zaytuna Farm, led by Geoff Lawton. After my own visit here over the last few weeks, I can say that this is an encouraging place to be, and you could feel a heightened sense of interest from visitors today as Geoff shared insights from a decade of development on this property — a demonstration lifeboat in the making.
Two one-week old chicks were especially appreciated by children on the tour,
whilst adults nodded and became quietly contemplative as they saw the
site’s integrated permaculture elements, and how they worked together to
showcase resilience in action.
Geoff Lawton on International Permaculture Day
Joseph Lentenyoi on International Permaculture Day
Zaytuna farm at sunrise
Over the last few weeks I’ve shot a lot of video of various aspects of Zaytuna Farm. I’ll edit it together and share it with you as soon as I can, so you can take your own virtual tour of what is — despite being barely more than a decade in development — the best permaculture site I’ve personally seen. Seeing the rapid advances here gives me a renewed sense of purpose, and I hope will inspire more people to take up the rewarding challenge that is permaculture.
Special thanks: I want to thank all the PRI and Zaytuna staff for their work in preparing for and helping to facilitate today’s tour!