Permaculture – the business of resilient design

By Andy Kenworthy

Permaculture is all about resilient and sustainable design. It can inform everything from business start-ups to retirement planning. Auckland Permaculture Workshop is celebrating a decade of bringing its benefits into the region.

Permaculture is a holistic design methodology. It is founded on simulating or directly using the patterns of nature. It was originally developed 1978 by Bill Mollison, a senior lecturer in Environmental Psychology at University of Tasmania, and graduate student David Holmgren. Today Permaculture is being applied to an ever expanding range of projects worldwide. It has been taught to hundreds of thousands of people through its Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) educational process.

In New Zealand projects like Rainbow Valley Farm outside Matakana and eco-village developments like Earthsong in Ranui have showcased this approach. Auckland Permaculture Workshop (APW) was founded as a not-for-profit in 2008. It aims to help bring permaculture into the city and provide an ecological and bioregional perspective to Auckland. Over the years they have brought together other permaculture practitioners and teachers. Together they offer modular courses on a range of permaculture subjects and help develop Auckland’s permaculture community.

Finn says: “We set out to create a locally relevant education system. It’s based in permaculture. It draws on the best international theory and practice in sustainability, ecological literacy, systems thinking, design theory and resilience. We bring it all together into a course that gives people the knowledge to start making changes.”

More than 250 people have participated in APW’s programme. Last month’s 10 year celebration reconnected former students. It was also a chance to share the diverse ways they have used their skills. Recent participants have helped to create the mobile Repair Café Auckland. Others have established a new fermented food business, a school food forest, a sustainable property business, and Pacific Vision Aotearoa, working towards zero waste for Pacific communities.

Finn says: “People are applying their understanding of systems to improve the quality of their lives and those of the people around them. They often have a really strong sense that something is not quite right. Some want to develop the skills they need to have more congruence between their values, their lifestyle and the choices they are making. Others recognise changes are happening and want to prepare for their future and provide a level of security and resilience for their families. I imagine as more people experience these changes that permaculture will become more and more relevant.”

APW courses now fill to capacity. The organisation is currently preparing for the next cohort of students. It’s also looking to expand its reach into the application of permaculture thinking in business, organisational planning and more. To find out more go to: apw.org.nz or email: [email protected]