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Geoff Lawton speaks with Permaculture Tonight

by Matt Powers, host of Permaculture Tonight


What’s interesting about our interview is it was supposed to be 15-20 minutes of time, not impose on Geoff’s schedule & to really get an update on his upcoming projects which I was sure everyone wanted to hear about. What was interesting was that I initially ended up interviewing Latifa, Geoff’s 5-year-old daughter, and then having my 4-year-old boy hijack my interview with her and conduct his own. I started and restarted the tape in hopes of getting a starting point. I’ll tape those cuts of the two of them being extraordinarily cute sometime soon, but a ways into it I was able to signal with the tape recorder and start an interview with Geoff – our children having grown bored of the novelty. I was sad I lost Nadia; I had hoped to include her, but Skype calls and interviews in general are unwieldy things by nature unless you have a rigid structure and children that don’t require you to monitor them. When both sides of the call settled down, Geoff and I were able to have a unique conversation, not about “the definition of permaculture”, but about what is coming up!

The Forgotten Food Forest

It was exciting to hear about Geoff’s documentation of ancient systems in Morocco. Many of these systems are unique and the last vestiges of wise, ancient cultures. One of these is a large food forest that Geoff happened upon 40 years ago. It is thousands of years old. I can’t wait to see the hi-def footage! Currently Asayo Kubo is illustrating a book I wrote based on this food forest called The Forgotten Food Forest, a children’s story about two boys who get lost in a sandstorm and saved by a food forest only to find that they are not alone. Here’s Geoff (without facial hair!) talking about his first visit to the food forest.


Permaculture is the final step in brain evolution

Geoff has been reading lately about brain plasticity as he’s been taking care of older family members and thinking about aging & the brain. He describes this idea that permaculture is a new change in the brain, one that extends the potential of the brain further. We talk about how passion and enthusiasm are like an infection and even how science pretends it can prove things.

Permaculture Parenting

Geoff and I discuss parenting & raising children in a permaculture context. He describes how Latifa understands the cycle of life – from baby chicks to chicken dinner, has a lot of respect for large animals, and has a natural sleep cycle (wakes with the sun and goes to bed shortly after dark at age 5). We discuss how children growing up in this context display maturity and innocence in a unique blend that is quite sweet.

“It’s almost like they’re learning the language of permaculture at the early enough age that it becomes ‘Ok I can speak this language’” – Geoff Lawton

Zone 0, The Inner Zone

“We can only teach from the inner zone but we travel outwards [through the zones] with less and less influence and more and more observation until we’re just a visitor observing. We have to respect that. We have to allow that patterning to re-evolve in our understanding. Otherwise, we’re just not going to make it.” – Geoff Lawton

Recently on Permaculture Tonight, I interviewed Kai Sawyer, a young man bringing urban permaculture & meditation (back) to Japan. I say back because meditation is frowned upon there ever since a 90s cult terrorist. He’s reframing it with flashmob & fun. What’s interesting is that within the same week Geoff discussed it at length. In my interview with Geoff he talks about how the inner zone truly is the starting point for all permaculturists and people in general. Things get quite deep & yet stay provable as we discuss coincidence within the permaculture community and beyond. We even get a bit into the limitations of science!

Geoff’s new Book

I can’t wait to read Geoff’s new book on “living a permaculture life”! With chapter title like Silence & Observation, his book promises to be something new and perhaps something critically vital. At this time when so many voices are trying to define what permaculture is, it is nice to hear someone putting pen to paper who is by any measure the most experienced & active teacher in permaculture currently. One of the topics we discuss is abundance. Geoff discusses how the potential abundance available on the earth is beyond human comprehension. I can’t wait for his book to come out!

“We’re in a treasure chest, an absolute treasure chest” – Geoff Lawton

Farm Share Farms

What was perhaps the most exciting moment came at the end when Geoff shared that he is working with an international organic corporation on creating farms that are owned by the consumers much like a herd share works – a Farm Share. The idea is that 200-300 families can invest 4k USD into buying and setting up this farm property, from then on they get wholesale prices minus 5% on all products coming off the farm and they own it so raw milk, artisanal cheeses, raw almonds or whatever else is your fancy are no problem – they’re yours already. There are farm share farms setup in Australia, New Zealand & Japan so far, but he has his sites set on the States thankfully! Geoff contends that we need project managers desperately, so if any of you feel the call to start up huge sustainable farms to feed the cities of the world while they transition, sign up for Geoff’s programs ASAP!

The Future

The most excited aspect of talking with Geoff is his enthusiasm for the future and for the present struggle towards a better future. He is carrying tens of thousands with his smile & teaching. It was an exciting, interesting and hope-filled conversation that I hope to continue and hope it will continue in your mind and perhaps in your families and circles of friends, associates, and co-workers.



Permaculture Tonight is a podcast created by Matt Powers, author of The Permaculture Student.

Geoff’s episode:

To read more from Matt Powers, see his author profile here.

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