Greening the desert

Over the decades, many different activities and ideas have been pursued to protect the environment and regenerate the planet, ranging from light-green sustainable consumer strategies, to a deep-green resistance, to industrial civilisation. Of these, permaculture is one of the most effective.

A shortened form of “permanent agriculture”, permaculture is a design system to facilitate sustainable habitation of the environment. Often it involves the creation of human-made ecosystems that mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature. The goal is to cycle resources within a site, thereby minimising production of unwanted waste products and the unnecessary consumption of resources from outside.

Devised by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the mid-1970s, permaculture has since spread around the world to many different countries and can be applied in a very diverse range of climates and soils, as well as to both rural and urban settings. A primary motivation in permaculture is increased self-sufficiency, not only in food but in a range of other human necessities, including water and energy.

Geoff Lawton is an experienced permaculture consultant, designer and teacher who runs Zaytuna Farm, an active demonstration and education site at The Channon, a village close to Lismore. Over the years, Geoff’s strategy has been to

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