Bill Mollison Audio Tapes, circa 1983 (Lecture 2A/B) They employ these poor people who go around America

and see who’s gardening. In 1975 there were five million American families gardening. The cutoff point for them is whether you produce 30% of your food from your garden. Some may produce close to 100%, but nobody below 30% is censused. This year in 1983, the census is 38 million American families gardening. That is 56% of people gardening in the U.S. at 35% or more of their food. In 1975 the dollar and weight product of gardens was a very small proportion of the total product of food. In 1993 the products from gardens is just passing that of the total agriculture. 38 million Americans gardening are producing an estimated $20 billion value of product. The whole American agriculture had a $20 billion product mainly from export grain. The difference between the two systems is interesting. The agricultural system received a $21 billion subsidy. The net income to America from farming was known as $1 billion. The gardening system received no subsidy whatsoever and that is total income. So income wide, farmers of America make nothing. The gardeners make $20 billion of value available to the nation for procreating resources. This looks like it may be a final figure for American gardeners, because the report cannot get access to names. 56% of people gardening doesn’t represent those that who want to garden, it represents those who have somewhere to garden. You readily realize that in suburbs and people renting don’t have that ability and people in high rises don’t have that ability. Another figure is that 34 million people are hungry or 17% of the population. A lot of Americans are hungry. There’s food parcels sent in from West Germany and Austria to the autoworkers and other people. You can see in New York, 36 people go through the same garbage can in succession. It’s not the people doing gardening who are hungry. With 56%, 44% people don’t garden and of those, 40% report that they don’t do so because they cannot access land, it still leaves a hardcore non-gardening group, and for the main part they are affluent people, they say we don’t want to garden, we can buy food, they need agriculture. The rest don’t need agriculture at all. I want to point out a striking fact here, that these gardens haven’t been accurately estimated but they use between 1 and 2% of the land surface devoted to agriculture. Let’s make a statement. 2% of the agricultural land surface out produces the rest and gardens are what they are about. More accurately than that, of the only 11% of good bottomland in America and Canada, all but 1% are covered by cities. That’s a little more accurate statement. We can trot out these little accurate statements because people keep trotting them out for us. Now so, I want you to think again, what happens if say gardeners, more people garden, that 44% can get the garden that they want, or if gardeners slightly increase their gardens. The statement I want to make is agriculture always was an unnecessary activity. It is not at all necessary to involve oneself in agriculture whatsoever. It’s very necessary to involve yourself in gardening. There is a profound and ground level change of consciousness in the methodology, if you like, of self-reliance and also putting things right. That comes from a very broad scale ground movement that hasn’t come, it never came from government, and it’s not mentioned by government, it wasn’t assisted by public money, and it didn’t come from any local government. There is only one case we know of where local government was widely involved in this change to gardening. A garden is something which provides a household with its nutrients. Agriculture is something in which you commercially sell off your product. If you’ve got a glass house in your backyard and you’ve only got tomatoes in it you’re in agriculture, because you intend to sell those tomatoes not feed yourself. If you’ve got a mixed garden in your backyard, then you’re a gardener and you give away or trade a little bit of product. Jim and Orin came in and they had surplus. They had just been here. They dumped some surplus parsnips and carrots that they couldn’t use. I’ll try to drop some duck eggs on them. We’ll try to dump something back on them. That’s not commerce, that’s rightful disposal of surplus where someone can use it, that’s a totally different concept. Wheat and bread, grains generally, grain legumes are a great problem in the system. They are the central problem. Here in my house you can look as hard as you like through the cupboards, you won’t find any stored grains because we threw them out to the ducks because we can grow potatoes. That’s our staple diet. If we start to eat grain we need an agriculturist. If we start to eat grain legumes we’ll need an agriculturist. Now we’re starting to grow grains, but we’ll try a different methodology. We’ll get onto the methodologies later.


We’ll try a non-cultivation methodology of grain growing. If we can’t get it, we’ll stick to potatoes in the garden. The potato and the yam, the taro, quite a few other root crops are simple plants which are staples for families in very tiny areas. You get 140 pounds of starch out of three taro so to cover a little area no bigger than this, with a bit of plastic in this region you can put your staple crop into something as big as that desk. But you can’t do that with grain and you can do it with grain legume -- chickpeas, soybeans, mung beans. They need about half an acre of land to become a staple. So you find plow agriculture deals with those 20 grain and grain legume staples that have become the main diet of humanity. Plow agriculture is concerned with those things which have been made the staple diet and in every case they are annual crops. The stated intention of the industrial world is to reduce all crops to soybeans. Now you have two obvious trends, the industrial agriculturists who say everything will be soybeans and we will make all your food from it and the home gardener who says the hell with you, I prefer to eat two or 300 species of plants and produce it myself. There are two giant trends, one with most of the investment capital behind it and all the government support, the other with no investment capital support and no government support. The gardeners are winning but they are stopped at a new boundary, nothing to do with gardening and that is access to land. I want to talk about a third agriculture which probably has gone past us all. There is the grain agriculture which is a plow agriculture. Good maize prairie and pasture agriculture is quite a stable agriculture for meat production. There is the home garden and there is a larger agriculture sitting in between it, what is it. Not the market garden which is tiny. There is a third maintained ecology sitting right in front of you, it’s called lawns. It’s so pervasive that it is invisible. I want to make a statement about the lawns and it’s a rocker. We will measure it increasingly and I want every bit of data you can get on lawns forwarded to us. We could set up a lawn research center. It looks something like this, more manpower, more fossil fuel, more water, and more fertilizer is put on lawns than the total of the formal agriculture of any country. Let me say it again. More manpower, more fossil fuels, more water, and more fertilizer is applied to lawns than the total official agriculture of any developed country. That’s certainly true of the U.S. Some areas of America, northeast America, have developed into a twin system, broadleaf forests and lawns. There is nothing else. Connecticut you can see lawns or forest. Lawns average in urban areas, average five to 6,000 square feet. That is a reasonable lawn I admit – 50 by 10 – and you’ve hardly ever seen a lawn that small. A lawn extends up to 45 acres on a single dwelling with a ride on a large tractor mower and that’s not atypical now of a lot of houses. Given that you can transmute the lawns into gardens and that’s no great move whatsoever then you can get rid of agriculture once and for all. Nobody is in any doubt about that whatsoever. I want to look at the cost of the lawn to the average householder because until it’s costed, hip pocket politics come in here. The cost of lawn minimally is $1 per square foot maintenance. Now you can do better than that if you use a mechanical mower, and if you use a lawn maintenance firm and there are 200 of those. One is called Chem Lawn. Have you ever seen that operation, they have gigantic spray trucks and you pay for the lawn to be mown. You can do up to $3, $4 per square foot expense. Now if you use Chem Lawn, the lawn dies every four years and the replacement cost is also between $4 and $17 per square foot. So every four years you have that additional expense because the chemicals will kill the lawn. You take the broadleaf out for four years and the lawn grass dies, then you have to re-strip the lawn. You’ve seen the large firms now selling roll-on lawns, and of course they work beautifully with the Chem Lawn people. One kills them, the other one supplies them, it’s an endless job. Now if we can’t find anywhere where that lawn is used, beyond the level of about 5% of the total lawn in place, that is, the football fields are used, the lawn tennis courts are used and certain other lawns are recreationally used where people sit and have their lunch or look out. The rest are not used. That is 95% of lawns are not maintained for any human usage at all and it is maintained at these varying costs of a $1 to $4 a square foot. We can accurately assess what the gardening of those lawns would bring in, and that is about $2 a square foot in product. Therefore the total cost to the household is about $4 to $6 a square foot. Money lost as against money gained. We reduce roughly 1/25th of the water in production that we would use on lawns. If you think the water on lawns is not a concern, to be fair they usually cost 20% of the total utility power of the region. That would be


a fair figure to maintain lawns, 20% of your power is used in pumping the water to maintain your lawn. Lawns use 44% of the total water used in your home. If you think that is a slight thing, 13% of all energy is produced by atomic power. You make the next step yourself. Lawns cost you atomic power. They are not a silly or funny thing. They are a tragic thing. The lawn is a tragedy in humanity and the way it’s developing is ultra-tragic. Perth is a marvelous example of the lawn which is about to destroy its society. Now Perth’s largest water table is 40 to 200 feet down to 1,000 to 1,200 feet and it puts 100 inches per annum on its lawns with rainfall at 24 inches-35 inches. Now there is one other tragedy coming out from lawns, it uses more pesticides and herbicides than any other system known to us. You’ve got to listen to Talk Back Radio on Perth on gardening just to get the full horror shock, ”there are termites in my lawn or something, I’ve put on Lean dang double strength, where can I get quadruple strength.” I was listening to this. It was appalling stuff… What we have to do is two or three things about the lawn. We have to point out its social costs, its energy costs, its dollar costs to the household, and the fact that it is the main factor in maintaining the total cost of agriculture, that we can collapse agriculture totally if we can collapse these lawns. Agriculture in my opinion, and you can quote me on this, is not only an unnecessary activity it should be an illegal activity and to make agriculture illegal we need to make lawns illegal. So the third agriculture we call is lawns. Rich Gibraltar, who has mowed lawns all his life since he was 12, and he’s still mowing lawns, he’s in his mid-forties is a permaculture designer in Massachusetts. He’s collecting all data on lawns, he’s getting PhDs on lawns, together he’s getting everything published on lawns from all over the world. He’s going to produce the Lawn Elimination book. I want to point out something here, until we garden we will never clean up our environment. As long as you abandon it and say we will not garden, you will never measure the degree of the pollution and the fact that you pollute will be meaningless. So we have to start gardening where we are and measure what is wrong. Then we will clean up our environment for the first time. When you have to live in your nest, you will soon clean your nest up, while you will continue to foul your nest and don’t live in it, you’ll never clean it up. We can clean up everything that’s wrong in a garden, in an area size of a garden. No problem at all. Unless we do that, we’ve had it. …Grow them in your garden, regard them as a small part of your normal garden if you want to eat grains or replace them with root crops or with tree crops. Grow some grain legumes in the garden but let’s not be too hypocritical and be living in town, defecating into a sewage system, eating soybeans or something produced in Mississippi bottomlands in U.S. under chemical agriculture. Let’s really take a square look at ourselves. That’s really what’s made this difference. People are really writing about, talking to each other about, are we really being responsible and real, or are we being idiotic. We leave home, Ray and I eat out of the garden, you can live with us, you’ll find what we’re eating is grown right here. We leave home for a couple of months, we always let the house to somebody and we always come back and there are jars and jars of grain and grain legumes. They have crept into the house and we have to feed them back to the ducks again but the garden is not used, nobody ate out of the garden, suddenly the garden became a non-food system. Now my best advice to you now, when you start to mulch your garden the first thing to shred and put on the mulch is recipe books. Now recipe books whether you know it or not are as much a part of the whole conspiracy as your friend the home gardener on the radio. You look at the recipe and you’ll find you’ll have to have some of these things that are not in your garden. Throw your recipe book away, walk out to your garden. Bring what is out there in. Then cook it. For that, you don’t need a recipe, because there is no recipe… Now what you also do then, is keep every book that tells you how to preserve, and to pickle and to store food. They are the books that you need up in the kitchen, your food storage and your yield promulgation books but you don’t need a single recipe book… Yes I can and there’s been quite a lot of work done. I’ll go through it fairly quickly. The lawn is very ancient and probably came from about the period of the Khans in India before it ever got to England and was possibly brought into England by the Indian army as a habit. The oldest lawn that we know about, perhaps you could go


and look at, is at the Taj Mahal. Its maintained by a lawn mower, which you can also look at, it’s the 29 women powered lawnmower and with scissors. The women are widows, Hindu widows, and they creep on their hands and knees across it and have done may be for 800 years. The next lawnmower in India is the cow which pulls a lawnmower behind it but eats the grass, but the lawnmower cuts it. The lawns were laid out as a sort of a living carpet around the monuments to power and are maintained by extremely servile labor at a great cost to those people. I’ve got a photograph of the lawnmower at the Taj Mahal – there are 29 women in it at the time and they are poor creatures, terrible things. Now the lawn then was taken back to England and used in the classical landscape architect systems for vistas and things. Originally it was maintained by sheep so it wasn’t too bad, but increasingly it has developed into a cult which reflects status because you know if the Taj Mahal has got it and every upper class British house has it, why can’t you have one too. The answer is you can’t order slaves to cut the lawn. You become a servant to your silt, to the lawn. Well good enough, I mean if you want to be an idiot following the whirlwind. The psychology of the lawn is very much like the psychology of the large car or the psychology of conspicuous status symbols. It also has another tinge to it which the rose garden has, and that is it is a separate thing from the home garden. The home garden is at the back of the house and in all decent homes it is properly screened off from view by a high fence or trellis so you can’t actually see food being produced, because to produce food is to admit that you need to eat at home. Well everybody else doesn’t have to admit that, they can eat at cafeterias, they are conspicuously more wealthy than you are. Dishwasher syndrome. Yes, dishwashers are the same…correct, if you are in that condition that means you’ve got a fair area down. So what you do is put an animal into to do that, the best thing is wallabies. I’ve done that. Well it’s true, we’re in a problem, but lawns are not normally maintained for that reason. 99% of lawns are not maintained for a firebreak at all. Raking and grazing will give you a firebreak, but the grazing may be difficult with trees but it’s not with geese. Geese will graze quite well without ruining trees and so will muscovy ducks. So will chickens. Chickens on 150 per acre will not allow much grass at all. You’ve got to fence your garden out, you’ve got to do that, no one is going to get away with a garden open to the wild…. You’ve got to look after the system for two years before you put in a small grazer although muscovy ducks are really pretty harmless…. What is the average garden? … Well an entire house block used intensively for food production would actually feed a couple households. You see the amount of grain you eat is less than what the Chinese eat because their main diet is grain and they eat 247 lbs per family per annum. That is the official Chinese government figure for rice and that represents 120th of one acre. You don’t need anywhere near that. You need 140th of an acre, and you’re looking at a quarter of an acre…. Yes you may do, corn is a very bad crop in terms of production per unit area… depends on how you grow them too I guess…. Yeah, I grow them like that too because I have the room to do it and also I grow a bit extra every year from what I want, quite a bit extra, but if you want to put them in a corner in a straw box you could gather your quarter acre up and stick it in as a very small area, you could increase the mulch pit over a smaller area. You see potatoes will grow at four square feet, 150 lbs weight of potatoes, providing you can lift the mulch deep enough…. I would go to taro. I think taro is your root crop really. Taro is not too bad. You could ferment it to poi and it is quite a good food as poi. Yeah I think we shouldn’t move the potato to tropical although there are good tropical potatoes, perhaps we should look a little further afield too… that’s not good enough, 9-12 is what you’d look for. Four potatoes is not good enough… it’s a 12 month crop. Even taro is a 15 month crop. 8-15 months, whereas potatoes we’ll get three lots here in one year with a fairly short growing season…. I also grow ocher which is a 12 month crop here, which is a root crop, oxalis tuberoso. It’s not worth growing for a staple crop, but you’d just want a few for variety that’s all, I’ll give you some to take home. You’d never put in a big patch of it because you just don’t get the food out of it. So here is what is sustainable and here in this is where we can operate. We can increase the area of forest, of lakes, of gardens with no cultivation cropping, and of perennial meadow pasture prairie systems. We shouldn’t


deal with any other systems, these are the only ones we can keep moving. All of these will correct soil, so that is what is sustainable. So if you find something else that is sustainable, for goodness sake let us know. If you find another sustainable system, document and describe it very carefully, it becomes another element in the mix available to us all. Pressed I would define agriculture as that system taught by agricultural colleges because there are agriculture and agriculturists. Now what of the theories and principles of sustainable systems, there are two things to say about them. It was recently said that there is only one natural law that has arisen from the study of ecology and it’s rather weird, it doesn’t have much to do with anything. That is ecology if you like is not an exact science so there are no laws about sustainable systems. What there are however is a lot of principles so I’d like to say something about the principles. All of the principles are stated in the passive sense, that is, not one of them is stated in a usable way, that is, they can’t be tested. So all the theories and principles to do with natural systems are passive, unusable statements and they are derived from the observations of the natural world. Now the best book on assembling them that I know of, and you might find a better one, let me know, is Kenneth White’s book in which he tried to assemble all of the things that had been stated about ecology into a book called The Principles of Environmental Science. It’s referenced in Permaculture 1 and 2 and I think probably even in your handbook. He states that 44 of them but in many of them he gives sort of subsets and they sort of say things like this “now diversity is related to stability or sustainability”. It’s a statement -- there is a relationship between diversity and sustainability. That’s nice for us, a nice passage statement. What in the hell do we do about that, do we go right in and diversify a system and then it works. And when we did it and that was the first thing I did, now it didn’t. I went and diversified it and stood back and it simplified, it wouldn’t stay stable for me, it immediately simplified itself. So diversity obviously wasn’t what was the factor in stability but after a lot of talking to and fro and some work with Joe ??, I’ll show you, the real statement which is more precise is -- it is the number of beneficial connections between the elements of your system are what makes it sustainable. The number of beneficial connections between the elements of your system are what makes the system sustainable. That is, the number of elements is irrelevant. It’s the number of connections between the elements that exist that is important. So to make a little diagram for yourself, it’s not the number of these things in your system which counts at all. It’s not that number, it is the number of ways in which these things are beneficially connected. What you will never find is a book on the principles of design, however you know, I’ve got a few out for you. Now principles of design have to be called something else. They have to be called directives because they have to be active, because when you’re designing you’re actively doing something so now what we’re looking for are design directives. I’ll teach you how to design here and it will apparently be simple. If we go to a client and he says, look he wants a high degree of self-reliance, I want to grow chickens, I want a cow and one or two other things, we can start to put out the elements which our client wants and a few that we may see around as well and if we take any one of these elements we can say this about it, it has three sets of characteristics which we can list. It has a set of breed characteristics which we will call intrinsics. It has a set of demands or needs and it has a set of yields or outputs. Now what does a cow need, it needs food and water, and it needs food in certain ratios/balances, all well known about cows, it needs other cows, all sorts of attention from you and so on. To milk it, it needs to be milked. This can be achieved by another small cow which is its calf, or it can be achieved by you, and so on. It needs shelter and you can list them. Breeding intrinsics, they are specific yields such as the amount of butter fat in the milk, the color of the cow and its behavior, how it ranges, and they are very different for different breeds. We’ll get into that later, some cattle will range over 90% of the range, some over 50% of the range and so on, heavy beef cattle are far less ranging. Some disease resistance is very much breed intrinsic. So these are still characteristics of the cow. Of its outputs, 13% of its food turns into methane which it either burps up or deflates out. It puts out manure, milk, air, it ultimately becomes a hide and meat, and so on and so on. I think the Hindus say it has seven holy, it dribbles and snot runs out of it and all of these are holy to the Hindu and part of ayurvedic


medicine, every extradite from the cow. So it has all these outputs, and it puts out heat as part of metabolic process and so on. So we sum up these things, very obviously if this is the cow in our assembly of elements and these are not being supplied by the other elements then there is work to be done. So a deficiency on this side can be defined as work, and that means we have to bring in energy or do it ourself. We’re going to milk the cow or put a calf on it or go and milk it. It certainly is not going to come in and milk itself on its own. So work in a system can be defined as a deficiency of supply by other elements. That means that now if we don’t do this, if we run 90 cows, or it becomes 200 cows, it becomes physically impossible for us to milk them. We need an oil well external to the system, or something like an oil well, if we have enough deficiency we need an external energy power source. On this side of the products, they are either used or not used. If they are not used, products not used become pollutants, that is the definition of a pollutant – it’s a product that is not used, therefore it’s just as obvious that the products of the cow have to go to use, and it has to go to productive use, it has to become another product for it to not become a pollutant. Cow manure is a very severe pollutant if it’s not used and accumulated in one place. It’s poisoning several streams in Ireland. It’s a deadly substance. So a system which is sustainable, in which work is minimized and which doesn’t produce pollutants provides the needs of each element and accepts the products of other elements. They are all elements. A good design then looks at each element, provides its needs from other elements and takes its products and reroutes them to yet others. It is very simple and very profound. Even to correctly use chickens or ducks is quite a challenge to see how the hell are you going to use those products. Now often the design is a matter of letting the cow place the products where they are best used, or even persuading the cow to put the products where they are best used. And most of the course is involved in, for instance, it’s typical that if we deforest regions that the nutrient loss is great and it basically accumulates down here and eventually goes to sea, but if we do a simple thing with a cow like putting a pine tree on the ridge, the cows will all camp under there and you get a mixture of pine needles and cow manure which is a trickle down nutrient system. You didn’t have to cart the manure up there but you did have to put the pine tree or any other needle leaf trees. It will always bring the cows to the ridge. They prefer a needle mattress to lie on then any other system. They are always laying down under Cadgerie Nurse, under Tamarisks, and under pine trees, that is their favorite place to camp. There is another very good reason. In the summer body insects are least prevalent on ridges. So this is the summer camp of cattle and then they carry the nutrient back from the valley to the ridges. So that by the correct placement of single elements you didn’t have to get a barrow and bring all that stuff back up to the hill. The cow walked up there and dropped compacted nutrient right on top of the ridge for you. That’s good. So it’s a question of how you place the elements, what elements you placed, and what you place them in relation to in the total system. That’s what good design is about. In fact that is what permaculture is about. It’s the rightful placement of elements in relationship to the total system. That’s the definition for you. That doesn’t tell anybody anything that hasn’t seen the diagram. When you leave here, and somebody says to you what was that course about, your mouth will drop open, you’ll look at them for ten minutes and you won’t be able to articulate a single bloody thing. I can’t define permaculture and I think about it a lot. So I tried about ten definitions and none of them work. It’s a system of design that is what it is. It has nothing to do with gardening or finance or taxation. It’s a system of design. Right now the design is really based on this paradigm here. That we need to supply the needs, some of these come from the breeds, some of the breed characteristics our outputs, and they have to be put in relationship to the system. No problem about all that. That is a directive I can give you. To make sure your products are there to use and that your needs are supplied by the system. That is a design directive. There is another really good one that we quoted earlier on, I’ve forgotten who formulated it. It said that every element you place should carry out many functions. It should have a lot of in and outputs of course, and it also says that every function of the system should be achieved in many ways. So the elements should carry a lot of


functions and the functions should be served by a lot of elements. To understand that, you just make a list of what a road can be. A road can be an access way. A road can be a water catchment. A road can be a firebreak and of course if you have them on your field in a row it is a giant heat collector. The road should be build to function in all those ways and that’s a matter of placement of the road. Then how about function, how many ways to access functions, maybe you need a lot more than roads for access, you may need gates, and fields, fences, access training systems, tracks, paths, so access should be achieved in many ways. It might be a good idea on an island if you think of water, water access systems and so on. In particular it comes to a real critical thing like how are you going to feed your house, then you should perhaps think about six ways that you build in, so one can drop out and five still function. So every element carrying a lot of functions, every critical function at least cared for in many ways, are directives of design. It is sort of a cycle. The other way to think of it, is you can build systems in which the needs are supplied from totally outside and which the products are all pollutants. Every product is a pollutant and they are called straight through systems or you can build systems in which the products and needs are integrated. The product gives rise to the …if you have a problem with your health inspector...Yeah, that’s true. That’s a political problem. If you can’t out design the health inspector you can never design a farm. We’ll out design him too. It’s part of your design problem. It cramps your design position, limits that you got to accept. I like to design something that has the most limits on it, 10 health inspectors over time. I much prefer to design under those conditions than the straight out stuff that you do. I like outthinking health inspectors. So that’s a great help to me. I want to do something else. This will enable you to thoughtfully work out your system. This is an intellectual approach to design. And works very well in here. You can go out and think about it and come out with some good stuff. The other thing about design is it does involve creativity. Anybody want to define creativity. I define it as a unique way to solve problems, a unique solution. One that you didn’t hear about or may not even be very well documented or written up but which you find right there for that particular problem and the problem can be one of needs or of outputs. Now creativity has been a subject of a lot of literature. One of the things to test it, is to question. The actual question is -- how many uses are there for a brick? With another brick to make a … and so on, or a doorstop, or with other bricks to build a house and so on, how many uses can you get out of that brick. That’s some sort of measure of how creatively you are thinking. I want to show you another method which I find of use. In every design you have different elements which we can put as earth, structural elements, plants, people, finances and so on. Up here there are real world elements and down here these are the abstract world elements. Well I had better put people back up here in the real world, finances, legal structures, and so on. So we have two worlds here in our design. One is one of the organizational world and one is of the real objects we have to deal with, the roads, plants, people, animals, houses and earthworks. Given that you can list out what things can be earthworks, what things can be waterworks, what things can be structures, you should spend some time yourself listing all the sorts of structures you can think about – you can put down trellises, horizontal, teepee, vertical, cylindrical terrace trellises, just draw them all down, all the trellises, fences, what sorts of fences -- stair, chopping log, on and on, just sketch them all down, water systems -- canals, swales, ponds, lakes and so on. Put them all down. Draw them all down. Once you got all of these little things drawn down, all the sorts of trellises and that, what happens if I combine that canal with that trellis, what do I get. So you will have that sort of canal that you drew and that sort of trellis, a teepee trellis. The answer will be some of the poles will fall in the water, but if you combine that sort of canal with that sort of trellis, suddenly you find that you have a whole space in your system which hadn’t been filled and you had never seen trellis canals. Now so what will happen if I trellis the canal, what will I grow, well I will grow grapes. What will happen is the grapes grow out over the water I’ll drown trying to collect my grapes, however if I put a boat on the water and make the trellis high enough so I can sit in a boat and go along, I don’t even have to carry the damn grapes, they just drift along with me. What’s more, no birds can get these grapes because birds have to fly up and land to get grapes and they will drown. And also grapes over water are unlikely to frost because water will heat several volumes of air, over 100 volumes of air, therefore it looks like I’ve struck on a good pest free, frost free, easily collected system of growing grapes. That’s how I’ll grow my grapes and you just did it by random allotment of a system to a system, of an element set to another element set.


What happens if you add a glass house to it, which is another structure, what now happens to the system, it becomes a tropical grape growing water system which will not frost either which has its own built-in water heat storage system in it and so on. What happens if you flag your glasshouse out on a lake, different proposition altogether, here it is on a graph and the lake freezes in the winter, it certainly doesn’t freeze in the glasshouse it remains open all winter. What the Swedes find too is that a whole column of hot water is setup and they now drop a plastic curtain around that and use it for heat input for housing all winter. You can also grow tropical crops under glasshouses and lakes and so on and so forth. Rafts are part of your structural system, which belong specifically on water. How many uses does a raft have? As you start to do this, two things become apparent in your system, one thing is most of your system was empty until you started to do this, you are only thinking two dimensionally, it’s forced you to three dimensions. And that you’ve never ever seen a system which is actually been filled up. Most of the systems we presently use are basically empty, none of them are at production level. Now these combinations come up with some very unique solutions, they are not solutions at the time until you list out what benefits happen. I’ll give you an exercise to do. I did it one night with a group. We put a glasshouse on a chicken house, the famous chicken house glasshouse and we listed the number of benefits that came out of that. There are 29 highly beneficial results of attaching a glasshouse to a chicken house in this time, so a single move can give you very large beneficial product yield. This is a way to be creative in design. And then so okay, so we’ve worked out what we need to do for the elements. This really says something about what sort of combinations we make out of the elements. It goes right down to here, what happens if this entity is under this legal structure as against this other legal structure. What happens if this legal structure connects to this financial system with this entity and you keep on doing it until you get a real harmonious set of products and then you’ve got a whole system. What happens if the people are in this legal situation with this set of products and this financial system and so on. Problems are rapidly solved. The wrong legal structure and the right physical system is a disaster and so on. That starts to lead you to understand that there is an appropriate financial and legal system for all sets of community and land systems, and then we’ll later get onto that. What sort of assets should be handled in what sort of ways. Also that trellis is extremely appropriate to water, more appropriate to water than any other system. Vine crops are only found on water edges in natural state, all vine crops, therefore everything that is a vine likes to sit beside water and be trellised, usually they grow under natural tree systems beside the water. What happens if you put a blackwood here, later you can let the trellis decay and transfer your vine onto the blackwood. You’re in a nice situation, you don’t have to build the damn trellis anymore and so on. Well, so this is another part of your design given that you analyze the elements and their relationships, they now test out whole sets of relationships which you store away for future use. There is yet another thing to do which is very difficult I’ll give you one whole day on it probably, what sort of pattern do you put them in. This is even more difficult to come to than creativity. The pattern decides, if you like, the time and place and relationship of things and it also decides the form. Pattern is the form of system, what shape do they take up, what shape do we make on the ground. We’ll give you some of the rules of patterning. Given that you can do this little abstract theme and pattern it nicely you’ve got a design which is very sophisticated. There is one last thing to do and that is to perhaps throw all of that out and go out and observe. And that is another totally different approach to design. This is the intellectual approach to design. This is the teachable part of design. I’m not saying that observation is not teachable I’m going to teach you observation, it just comes at design from a different way, it comes from the experiential side, and this comes from our intellect, the other one comes from our experience. This is an excellent way to design, to think it out. Then you go out and observe and that is an excellent way to design. Now we are more likely to be good intellectuals than good observers but we should never ever design without observation and I will state categorically it is impossible to design something


offsite if you don’t see the site, you cannot come up with a sustainable design. Never try to design off a map or maps… You can design water storage systems purely off contour maps. Yes, it’s true. The fact that one of your dams is sitting in the only patch of bush of that sort left in the whole rainscape becomes irrelevant.. Oh yes, or that there is something not mapped there like a ….or something. You have to really observe to really know design. It’s true what Yarman says, you can understand keyline and lay it imperfectly without ever seeing the site, that’s true and that is a design system…yes, that’s right it is, it’s one of the physical old land aspects… .to a great extent, two or three field days in this course because you’ll go ratty if you don’t and it will always be on a nice day so they won’t be scheduled. But one of them will be that you will go out and observe systems. We will give you a set of rules under which to observe and you can vary them if you like. So the totality of that is that we get out of it, methodologies to design. Now nobody teaches this that I know about and notice that it is all in relation to function. So further to say what permaculture is, it is designed for function and its functioning sustainable systems in which people are integral, of course, to the design. But I would like to get a design in which nobody was to be involved, it was designed for the sake of the system itself. ….The other thing is the durability of the materials too. See beneficial material can be high energy but if it is extremely durable what you’re trying to do is to give it the energy per unit lifetime and then it may be an actual high energy material. Something like with stainless steel on your roof or something or better still, but broadly speaking what I will try to do for you, we haven’t come to the end of that as a science or skill is to show you that everything that you can do with materials, you can do with earth and plants. The keyline system is a better system for instance of irrigation than pipe systems. It has a relatively short amount of pipe in it and that is only to let water out of the bottom of the dam, so what we try and give are systems which don’t need an awful lot of material. Nevertheless we’re not there yet and some materials have to be used. There is a very good book by Ken Kern called the Healthy Home and it goes into a discussion of the materials used in homes very thoroughly. I think it is almost compulsory reading. The Healthy Home by Ken Kern. I don’t know if you know Ken Kern as an author much. The Owner Built Home is his book too. It is the only book I know of which deals point by point with the materials used in construction, not just that, but their placement in the dwelling and what it does directly to your health as an occupant of the dwelling. ..You are looking at a spider web. It will catch flies. Or a fishing net. A fishing net measurably catches fish just as efficiently, with up to 60% of its linkages broken there is no less fish caught. If you set up a net many strands can break before the net fails and it will go on catching fish at a sharply decreasing rate up to sort of 80% of strands broken. After that it doesn’t catch much at all. Now let’s look at understanding design in terms of net and we also want to talk about techniques, strategies and designs and get them clear in our minds. I want to talk about what we’re really up to. Okay, that’s how we do it. What are we about? We should ask ourselves what are we doing too. That’s how we do it. I want you to think that whatever you are designing is finite, so make it square finite. That’s our system. In here are the people and the requirements, it may be your own home. Ideally if you do your job everybody becomes a designer but at this point this isn’t the case. There is a flux of energy into the system and there are losses from the system, and we’ll call that sources and sinks -- things that when the energy flows or resources reach that area here, they pass from our system at least. So we operate between sources and sinks, in a flux of energy. The sources are water and sunlight, winds, clouds, rain you know. They are our inputs into this structured system which has hills and valleys and so on. What we are up to is taking the sources and first of all making them travel as far as we can through our system. In that case we’re giving them the most time in the system, spending time in the system. Also along those routes we’re trying to set up what we will call resource storages, call them simply reusable, something reusable to us is a resource. So these are storages and these are resources. Some of them are stored as pure energy systems, some of them are stored as food, some are stored as nutrients for other parts of the system, but our job is to setup the


maximum number of storages between the resources and the … and to make the sources of our energy travel the greatest distance through the system. That’s with fluxes. There is no better storage system really than a tree. It is a great interceptor and storer. There are so many sorts of trees that we can choose high and low value storages for our particular systems use. So that’s why we are talking about design. Now the amount of travel of a resource producer through our system or the unit time it spends in our system decides the number of duties we can make it do. And that has a profound implication for design. Let’s make it practical, say ten inches of rain falls up here on a hill, enters a river and leaves the system. In effect it has done some duty for the plants along the river but it didn’t do any other duty, it did a minimal duty. But say that ten inches of rain fell up there we could put through this path, and that path was several times longer than that path, and while it was falling it did other things, it fell over water wheels and it did all sorts of things on its way, I kept adding duties to its track. Then effectively if we could give it ten times the pass, we’ve had ten times the use, and effectively that means it could have been 100 inches of rain. That is, it’s not the absolute quantity of any thing entering our system that matters, it is the number of uses to which we put it before it becomes unavailable again that matters. So it’s the number of duties we can extract from systems which matter. So never confuse rainfall with available water. …We’ll get to it, but what you’re saying is in a forested area we can actually cycle the same water back onto the ground four and five times, that’s definite, so it can go up in the air and fall again, go up in the air and fall again if it’s forested….we could do, or we could be adding or taking, we could be doing either, right…well you can’t, otherwise we contravene laws which are more basic than environmental science. They are universal laws, they say that the quantity of energy in systems are constant and entropy constantly increases. In the last statement you will never get rid of the sea. All water flows down eventually will end up in the sea, you can’t do anything about that. However, in our little system there may be no entropy because there is constant flowing, tomorrow the sun shines again. So in the real world we don’t think about entropy because the sun will always shine and that means energy always comes in again as long as the sun shines. Entropy is a concept dealing with an unreal universe but nobody has ever been able to find a closed system in which the rules of entropy actually operate. So we’re not worried about entropy but the sink is where we are concerned. When it leaves we cannot grab it again, it has gone, it has gone out of our little system. The rabbit ran through the fence at that point, the cow died, we can’t get any more milk out of her, she just entered the sink. We can’t eliminate sinks. Another law of nature says that nothing lives forever, so everything eventually dies, it fails us at that point as a storage or a resource, if you are quick you can eat it and then that’s the end. So everything you eat of course you are a sink for that life form. Okay, so that’s our job, is to operate in this flux. We have three dimensions in design I want to clarify for you. It will help you a lot in argument. Jeff might walk up to me and say how does biodynamics fit into permaculture and I have to think a little but this will make it all clear to you. There are techniques abroad in the world. What is a technique -- it says how you do something. So a technique is a specific instruction on how to do something. Now I want to make a statement about gardening books. Every gardening book you can buy with the exception of a very few, very recent publications are books on technique, they will simply tell you how to do it, how to plant your garden, you know, what systems to use, and so on. Now the next order of complexity is strategies. Strategy says how and when to go about things, it combines a time element with technique. Now there are a few books on strategy and the only one I can think of that has strategy highly developed is a book by Fukuoka called the One Straw Revolution which I am sure a lot of you are familiar with, it is referenced in Permaculture 2. And that book says how through the year do we apply techniques and that is a giant leap from books on technique, a gigantic leap. The dimension that Fukuoka explored was time. His genius was not the collapse of space but the collapse of time. So strategy is an enormous leap on technique. Then design adds something to technique and strategy. Again it uses techniques, it uses strategies, and it puts those in a pattern. So patterning is what is peculiar to design and design is multidimensional. If you would like to think of it in terms of conceptual dimension, technique has one -- it has merely


a point dimension; strategy has two – it has time dimension added; and design is multi-dimensional – it involves all spatial and time dimensions, therefore, design is a giant leap on strategy. And we are involved here in design. Now if someone asks you how does composting fit into permaculture, you say like a coat hanger fits into a wardrobe. It is not the wardrobe. Now what is then, what is design. Design is the framework in which you hang strategies and techniques. It’s the number of strategies and techniques that you select and how you hang them that makes your design, but the design is not the strategy, it is not the technique, it is the space in which they are hung in relation to each other. That helps you again with permaculture I think. It is an attempt to put up a framework in which you can hang the techniques and strategies that will give us a sustainable system and the material things like the pipes and rocks. We’ll do some observation, practical half day or so on particular themes perhaps, but you can start trying to look at things again. Largely we don’t see anything, we take everything as given and the more accustomed we are to an area the less we see, we discard things. Interesting exercise I used to do with my children is to walk around the beach and give a prize to the first person who found a caries and I was always the first one to find a caries, because I had it in mind in any way it was kilted you know and it always annoyed them all their life that they never won the caries prize. They would run ahead of me but I would still be the first one to find a caries. I think they thought I carried it with me, I did too. The sense of wonder is what we lose. We ask a few questions when we are small, you know why is the grass green, why are there clouds, people don’t really answer us, and we start to cease to wonder, and when you cease to wonder, you cease to observe. So I think this is quite separate from any other intellectual part of design, I think what you do is to go onto somebody’s place and you simply, all I do is to make a note of the things you see. It may be as simple as rabbits, or many snails or it may be as complicated as there is wet ground on the southeast tussocks and you just keep adding those up. So the process of observation is first to make an unqualified observation on any property you’re on. You don’t qualify it any way, you don’t attempt to explain it, you don’t give it any cause or effect, you just simply say there is wet ground, there are snails, there are rabbits, there are tumbleweeds caught in the fence, whatever you saw, you just put it down, you don’t give it any thought. This is a simple unqualified observation. It may very well be on a theme too, you may be on a site which your main worry is fire, but perhaps you may see something that helps you about fire, but it may not be on a theme, it may just be an observation, but then later when you’re thinking about the place you ask the next question, what would that mean? So from this simple unqualified observation you go now to as many possible meanings as you can. It doesn’t mean that one is right and one is wrong. It may mean that a few of them together are right, but at least you get a set of possible meanings, why are there rabbits on the place, somebody put them there, they leak in through the fences, it is a good rabbit area, on and on and on. Then you go through a period to clean up these set of speculations, because that’s all they can be is speculations, you gather more information. Now there are three normal ways we do that, we do it from references or libraries, you can look up rabbit in a rabbit book, you can ask your friends what they know about rabbits or some experts. There is got to be a rabbit expert to ask, somebody will know a rabbit expert, in 1959 I would have been a rabbit expert, I have since renounced that title. These bits of information may actually help you decide which of these is probable, which of the speculations or meaning is probable, it will strengthen a few of them, that these things are probable that you speculated. Now you do another thing, you generalize a little bit, to other rabbits, or other properties or to other like things, wallabies, mice, rats, and so on, what might be true about a mammal it may also be true about other mammals. Now at this point you ask the final question which helps us a lot, so how can we use this in our particular design problem. This point or any point here, from here on down you can go back if you like and re-observe so that there is a continuing re-observation going on. Now if you do use it in a design, this particular idea you get from an observation, you can confirm that that was a good idea later if you use it.


You go out and see something you don’t make any decisions about it, you wonder what it may mean, you gather data over that area of knowledge, you generalize which might be useful, you generalize about wind, how can we use this information and then you may finally, I guess, you may recommend a process, some action and then finally you test out as to whether your recommendation was an unqualified success or a partial success. So observation proliferates to speculation, speculations narrow down to probable meanings, uses reproliferate, many possible uses down here and then we decide to do a few of these things and test them, and then they become part of your design methodology. Now the interesting thing is its true, it’s hard to get there, is anything leads to everything else, so if we had a day or two of course once we start with any one observation, and by reobserving we led into the whole of the property which linked it to everything else. So it ended up by being able to design, purely on what is happening, that you can see in front of you. In fact I think this would be the way that tribal people and people who didn’t heavily manipulate the land probably went about design systems. In Arizona there is a ranch you might visit one day called the Page Ranch. It’s run by the University of Arizona. It was taken up about 1940 by a man then about 60 years of age called Page in arid land. He decided to bring this pretty barren farm to life, it was overgrazed dry prairie. Nobody now knows what he did because he lived an additional 20 years after the age of 60. He went around with a spade making small marks all over this ranch on the ground. It’s known for instance that he was always out in rain and whenever it did rain which was about five times a year he was out in it. He turned a lot of the rain down the holes of the prairie dogs and the gophers. He made very small v marks and the rain went straight down under the ground into the prairie dog holes. That resulted in a tremendous germination of gathered seed, some of which they had put down there and they had to evacuate the lower levels of their tunnels. And his ranch came back into production. It was the only vegetative ranch in the area. He left it to the University of Arizona. They had it for another 40 years, didn’t do anything with it, they buried low level radioactive waste on the edge of it. Recently though some of the students in particular looked at it very closely and they found that he was doing hundreds of small things on foot. Of course when old man Page died and the University took it over and grazed it, it started to deteriorate again to the surrounding. So they’ve been working on it for the last maybe five years, ten years and trying to get it back and find out what the old boy did. He certainly did a tremendous amount. He did it over sort of a square mile or two but he only used a spade and he moved very little and he was very old. I mean these observations may lead you to small moves which have very large effects over very large areas. I think it is the way that people without a lot of energy manipulated the environment….yes it would, or rabbit holes or rabbit bandicoot holes. If you look at the desert, the interesting thing about the desert is its riddled with holes. You see things smiling at you over the landscape, they are scorpion holes, those little small holes, little flat ones, and out comes those bloody red scorpions I mean millions of them, and they are all over the landscape. The desert life is below ground and if you can turn the water down there too, the idea of those things making the holes is they lift the holes slightly up above the desert, so all you got to do is take the spade and shave it off. Take off the surplus and the water will pour down those holes. Now you’ve got the water and it can’t evaporate from the tree roots The audio set can be ordered from


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