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Podcast 049 - Discussion with Maddy Harland on Current Permaculture

Adrien Lapointe
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Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
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Credit: Vida Norris

Paul chats with Maddy Harland from Permaculture Magazine. They discuss the latest issue, and Maddy goes into an article on sepp holzer explaining how to build round wood shelters in a day and their multifunctional abilities as animal shelters, earth shelters or vegetable cellars. Maddy defends Sepp Holzers use of big machinery on the land, and commends him for being able to transform landscapes for a better purpose, giving the example of how through some of his intensive landscaping Sepp has saved native oak trees, and gotten endangered eagles to return to roost in what was once going into desert in Portugal.

Paul and Maddy comment how Sepp is different because he's working all around the world making big impacts, compared to many permaculture designers who haven't shown their living examples of permaculture, because the big names like sepp holzer and Masanobu Fukuoka have already shown it. Paul and Maddy agree that more living examples of permaculture systems are needed, even if they are repeats and Maddy brings up the example of Chris Evans work in Nepal, and how he's taken Fukuoka's work and really proved that it works on a practical level and he's documented it.

Paul brings up how Masanobu Fukuoka has made a lot of sacrifices to show his systems and how they work, and Maddy agrees and feels the same about David Holgrem. Maddy relays how David Holgrem went home and applied the systems to prove it, and then he went out into the world as someone with authority on permaculture systems, since he had really experienced them.

They discuss how Permaculture is more than just an intellectual idea, that it's more about creativity and innovation. Paul feels people need now to be building permaculture for future generations to move forward.

Maddy gives the example of an article in her magazine by Darren Doherty about his work in Australia on his farm with reforestation and permaculture design which led to a large enhancement of the wildlife, the land, and as Maddy describes taking a barren low yielding farm and turning it into a beautiful diverse polyculture system with an economic yield and wildlife reserve.

Maddy continues with another example of an interview she did with Polly Higgins, an attorney who suggested “ecocide” be another crime against humanity, holding those who make major destructive impacts on the environment should be held accountable. Maddy feels if ecocide is outlawed these old destructive systems can be changed.

Paul and Maddy both comment that permaculture is a suitable answer to some of these issues. Paul gives the idea that he hopes that all the food we buy from grocery stores, fast food, etc, will come from permaculture systems because he feels it's actually more profitable. Paul hopes that permaculture folk convey the message to farmers that monoculture systems don't have to be the way we go. He gives the example of using weeds as a crop, or as a useful part of your system.

Maddy and Paul discuss how they would love to see Ben Law and sepp holzer cross paths, and Paul also draws a comparison between sepp holzer's earth shelters and mike oehler's designs. Paul tells the story of how he set up sepp holzer with Mike Oehler and they compared notes and it was an incredible moment to have those great minds together in one place.

Paul comments that he hopes that the work of people like Polly Higgins, will help people who are trying to be innovative designers but are put through a lot of grief and red tape from government officials and restrictions, will be able to be free to create.

Paul and Maddy discuss the media and various bad guys, and comment on how there is a need for change.

Paul asks Maddy to explain about the next issue's contents and she describes a few examples. One article is a how-to on making your own charcoal filters and all that it's involved in it. Maddy also discusses another article about a person living in an intentional community who moved to the Suburbs with their family and the conflicting feelings involved in such a choice. Maddy continues to discuss a few other articles from the latest magazine, finishing up with comments about how we need to regain knowledge and wisdom from our ancestors and combine it with new ideas and innovations.

Paul and Maddy briefly discuss a few aspects of permaculture ethics and plan to have another podcast about it where they will go into more details and discuss them in many different contexts.

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Ben Law
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Permaculture Magazine

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