Surrounded By Giants

Myself, Nadia & Geoff Lawton and Salah Hammad

"It depends — do you want to be a consultant, a designer, an implementer, aid worker? What do you want to do?" Dave asks. The problem with that question is I want to do it all. As the weeks have passed here on the Zaytuna Farm Internship I find myself thinking how fortunate I have been to learn from such great mentors.

After every giant in their field has spoken, I have been drawn to their call. I want to teach, I want to do aid work. I want to become a competent permaculture consultant that has the experience of two men’s lives. I want to make a difference in people’s lives. They are hammers and we are just nails looking for a cause.

As my fellow interns make plans on their futures in Permaculture, I am going to stick around a bit longer, as being surrounded by such experienced teachers is an opportunity I just can’t pass up. Still, I feel jealous of each of them. One is going to teach a PDC in the Middle East, one is off to do aid work in Asia, and so on. I stay, determined to grasp Permaculture by both hands and run with it. I just happen to be at the perfect place to do that.

Myself and Paul Taylor

On the Internship, in addition to Geoff Lawton, we had guest speakers that came in to teach us about their specialist subject.

Here are some quotes from the last few weeks that I appreciated:

“Well informed, is well armed.”

“Hope is not a management plan.”

“You are building a glider not putting wings on a brick.”

“Just because you are rich doesn’t mean you’re smart, happy or healthy.”

Some might say our teachers are a bit obsessive or eccentric, but I recognise it as passion. They are trying to pass on all they know, and not for money or fame. They know they can make a difference — and not a fake, corporate environmental kind of difference. I’m talking about a "game over" kind of difference.

Chris Darker and myself

In this old growth forest of giants I stand — myself as the seedling that’s just bursting from its shell, heading towards the warm light and the tree tops. I’m taking my time to set down a good foundation of roots. As each teacher comes and goes I begin to feel ready for anything — ready to take on the world and whatever it can throw at me. As the succession of the forest progresses and my trunk of wisdom thickens, so will my branches open up a bit, to allow the saplings underneath to rise. It’s not about me being the biggest or best tree. It’s about family, community — passing on all that any child needs to know in this world to live an achievable, sustainable life, so they can play a meaningful role in the ecosystem of life.

Dave Spicer and myself

These giants are turning up in unexpected places. Each of them is different and individual — all nurturing the new generation coming after them, stacking succession and spreading the edge, allowing yet more giants to become established.


  1. Anyone have any info on the NeFi batteries? how are they working out in the system,etc. any info will be much appreciated.There is not enough info from users out there. Thanks

    1. I have 24 volt system set up in my basement Dave, and they have been working to spec. The water level needs to be monitored.

    2. I am interested NiFe(nickel/iron) batteries.I had the abreviation wrong. I need good info from someone, other than a dealer of these batteries to get a unbiased review. I will then process the info and weigh my purchasing options.

      1. you can email Chris Darker. He does sell solar systems but he knows what he is talking about when it come to NiFe cells. We just installed a new battery bank of them in our internship . Hope it helps

  2. Charl, Good on you, mate. Taking advantage of the opportunity you have now will be of benefit to you and of course the many others whom you will be able to lead to a better life further down the track – not to mention how good it will be for your soul – and hopefully you in turn will become one of the ‘giants’.

  3. Hi Dave i will be getting Nife batteries myself when we set up our system. It was me who pestered Lord Voltamort (Chris Darker) when i was at PRI to get them in. As Chris says and rightly so he was a little concerned about them in home systems as they need a more involved manager as they need a bit more topping up from time to time. They are definately not set and forget but they are very durable. There is a lot of info out there but beware of true believers and do your research. Here is a good place to start

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