Episode-907- Geoff Lawton on the Future of Permaculture — 50 Comments

  1. Jack,
    This must be one of those days your thinking ‘damn I’ve got a cool job’!

    Its awesome how many great men you get to interview/speak with. Thanks for sharing those conversations with us. =)

  2. One of my favorite eps yet! This guy is incredible, what he’s doing for the world is wonderful.

  3. I really dig Geoff Lawton! I think he should be giving Steven Harris competiton for number of appearances on Survival Podcast.

    I bought Mr. Lawton’s “Urban Permaculture”, and I watch that DVD over and over. I never tire of it.

    Great stuff Jack, good job getting an interview with him. Anytime he answered your questions was like, him answering you looking into the future. Beyond today and into tomorrow. What the landscape will look like for us humans. The time for the grasshopper is over and the time for the ant is now just beginning. I loved it!

    in Mesquite, TX

    • @Jessie and that stretches my thinking, part of why I love Geoff and his teaching style. In the PDC series he describes earth works hid did on a personal 5 acre property. I felt like I was watching Einstein teach physics and actually understanding it at the same time.

  4. I really enjoyed this interview.

    I can tell you did too, Jack.

    I know he is in high demand, but I’d love to see him back on again.

  5. I made a donation to Permaculture Global – I figured it’s the least I could do for the long distance “Mentor” of *my long distance “Mentor”!
    I’m glad I caught the podcast as soon as it was released this morning. I was able to listen to about half of it before I left for work, Cup of coffee in hand, as I observed the newly started garden in my tiny suburban garden, looking at new growth on my 3 goumi bushes, peapods on the vines, comfrey & nettles doing great, lettuce, onions, shallots & strawberries, radishes, and much more growing great. Hummingbirds zipping in & out of the yard. All these growing things were NOT HERE in my yard this time last year. I have a dreadful case of the “Farmheart” disease (intense longing to be a farmer!) but for now I do what I can, where I am and heal this tiny patch of the Earth.
    Thanks for all you do Geoff & Jack!

    • Barb,

      I know what you mean. I sit at a computer all day and look out my window and dream about being out on my property. One day…

    • @Barb, thanks for your support of the PRI of Australia and Geoff and thanks for being part of the solution with your personal efforts. Nothing can beat the feeling you just described. I watered some of my stuff this morning before coming in just because it felt good to do it.

  6. Jack I have a lot to learn. Will MSB members get a discount on your survival permaculture classes?
    Great interview!

    • @Matthew in Gooseneck,

      Likely in some but not the one I plan to bring Geoff in for. It is going to be a balance to simply cover the cost and keep the head count to a manageable size.

      • Something tells me you may need a lottery system to keep the head count to a manageable size.

        • This may sound sacrilegious, but why not an auction style for tickets, and take the profit and donate it to PRI or the establishment of an American based institute, etc., “return of surplus style.” I wouldn’t care personally if you pocketed the difference for your own property development, but I can’t imagine anyone would be upset if it were used to advance Permaculture teaching on a broad scale. Just an idea. I have an idea for simple implementation if you’re curious.

        • @Vettezuki not sacrilegious but exploitative of my audience. I will work up a cost based on what excel says, it will include Geoff’s fees, equipment fees, support fees and a fair margin for me hosting the event and doing all the work to make it happen. Anyone that doesn’t like the price doesn’t have to come, anyone who wants to pay more can donate the excess to PRI or any thing they see fit to do so with.

        • My suggestion was in reference to constraining pool size. If at price X 50 people want to go to something there are only 20 slots for, you have three choices: first come first serve, lottery, raise price until the pool self-prunes to 20. I suggested the last as a reasonable possibility because it is in my view no less fair or for that matter exploitative (in a coercive sense) and creates an extra benefit. But I can understand choosing another method to provide equal access at the lowest reasonable cost+ price.

  7. Thank you Jack & Geoff! I love learning new things with regard to growing food for the family and the community.

  8. I never really understood the term permaculture. I’ve heard the word tossed around from time to time but mostly on your show. Today I followed the link to the pri site and watched a few of the trailers. All I can say is wow! Now I understand your enthuism in this. I would recommend that everyone at the very least watch these trailers. I will be purchasing the dvd’s and applying this knowledge not only at my home but possibly at the workplace as well. The possibilities are endless. thanks Jack

  9. Great episode – you did a great job keeping Geoff focused, he seems to have a tendency to wander a bit. Not necessarily a bad thing, since whatever he has to say is interesting, but good to get some direct answers to your very concrete questions. I’m going to order up his DVDs.

  10. Why was the 2-year-old never given the floor? Clearly the child had something to say!

  11. I ordered the DVDs. Thanks for working out out the discount. I have heard about these from you and Paul for a long time, but never took the time to order. But something about 10% cried out “order me!”.
    If he comes for a PDC, please send me an alert ahead of everyone else so I can get signed up before the rush!

  12. Wow! Dude! You got to talk to Geoff Lawton. And it was an awesome interview.

    • Thanks for the links.
      I ordered some of the salad mallow seeds from Kitazawa Seed on Wednesday and received them today, two days later. I thought the shipping was a little high but they were packaged well in a box and not just an envelope.

  13. Great interview. Did you get a chance to ask Geoff about being in California in 2013?

    It may take a while for me to wrap my head around some of the “evolutionary” stuff but I’m hot on the methodological end and may be of utility on the expansion through business aspect.

  14. Jack,
    I’m so glad you finally got to interview Geoff, and what a great one it was! On my second listen right now, something about the cool aussie accent always makes me smile. Love the show man!

  15. Going to research more about salad mallow and Ethiopian cabbage, both sound wonderful. I’ve been researching “different” plants to try, so this fits right in. Right now I want to try yacon (or oca), girasole (the rather inappropriately named “Jerusalem artichoke”), orach, Good King Henry, and possibly chufas. Are there some other “crops of special importance” that might not be so well known? Especially if they don’t mind some wind and drought?

  16. Wonder if Geoff knows about the Open Source Ecology guys? They’re cracking right along all things considered. Most of their designs are oriented towards conventional ag, but maybe down the road they could develop some more permaculture oriented earthworks designs, etc.

  17. Great show!!! Just on temperate alternatives to banana circles, there are temperate fruiting palms other than Butia capitata, namely the Chilean Wine palm, Jubaea chilensis, and also the Bolivian mountain coconut, Parajubaea torallyi, a fast growing, fast fruiting (8 years in NZ) drought and frost hardy palm that has been described as the ‘ultimate landscaping plant’.
    Blessings and keep up the good work.

  18. I only learned about permaculture 2 months ago, or so. I took a workshop with Joel Glansberg. I had no clue what it was at the time, and was very happy that he addressed all of the thinking/philosophy side of it. It’s the biggest hurdle to get over. We’ve been taught to think in a warped way.

    However, I don’t think it’s an evolution. You made a comment a few podcasts ago about how it’s taken humans thousands of years to get a lot of skills, and then 25 years to lose them, or something like that. I think it’s just a return to something that works. More and more people are realizing that what they heard…..was a lie. What they know…..isn’t real.

    Take “organic” food, for instance. We’ve got a special label for it now! You can go to more upscale markets to buy “organic” food! It’s treated like a specialty item… however, wasn’t food “organic” for thousands of years? Only until we recently started pumping the food full of chemicals did it become twisted away from it’s original form. Now we’ve got the “organic” modifier on the food, to differentiate it, however, it’s completely backwards! A “banana” isn’t the same as an “organic banana”. And the “organic” banana is the natural one, in a similar style to the way people grew and ate bananas in most of human history. It should be the other way around. “Banana” should be the term for the fruit that grows on it’s own. “Poison Banana” or “GMO Banana” or “Mutant Banana” should be the term for what we now know as “Banana”. Yet we treat that which is abnormal as the default, and that which is the default as the mutant.

    It’s a weird world we live in…

    • @michael,

      I get your point but I still say it is an evolution in thinking because of the assembly of technique, philosophy and technology.

      Some of the philosophy has been around for ages, a bit of it is quite new (from the mind of Mollison) yet even what has always existed has never been assembled in one location together at one time. Same with tech and techniques.

      Additionally what you are saying would have been like saying there was nothing new about the US Constitution since the Greeks, etc. had republics long before we did. The original constitution made slavery legal and a black person a fraction of a human, via amendment that changed, women got equal rights in time as well, even without an ERA.

      Why? Well the constitution was designed to evolve and change. Not be changed by government as it is often done now in disgrace but by the people via amendment.

      With permaculture we get

      1. prime directive
      2. three ethics
      3. twelve design principles
      4. countless techniques from the past, present and eventually the future

      So it is an evolution of thinking. It is taking a aboriginal idea from Australia and a cutting edge idea from America and combining them, while ensuring no harm is done to anyone by its implementation.

      For instance in the PDC Geoff did on DVD with Mollison he described one structure he built. The class asked what it was called, joking he rattled off like 12 words something to the effect of “contour path gravel based chinampa like soaking beds linked to a swale fed pond”, then being serious he said, “quite honestly we are going to have to invent language for much of this because while some of this stuff is ancient some of these other things have never been done before”.

      Again you point is valid on the technique, tech and philosophy, it just misses the real point, the assemblage.

      • I see the point about the assemblage of new ideas with older ones, thus the evolution.

        I also liked what Geoff had to say about simplicity. I often run into discussions where people say something like “It’s too complicated for us to understand.” or “A solution is more complicated than that.” I think complexity itself is the argument for simplicity. I’m enjoying how we’re discovering many simple, common sense solutions to “complicated” problems.

        Thanks Jack. You and Geoff keep up the good work.

      • Socrates once said that the price of ignorance was having to learn from somebody who knows. That’s why I listen to the podcast. Thanks!

    • Michael, you might find this interview with David Holmgren, especially part 2 to be enlightening where he talks about why he jumped over to Permaculture for its integration of methods and techniques with a broader socio-economic worldview. It’s just one guy’s perspective, but I like how he frames the ethics in particular as questions more than answers.

  19. Jack,
    Was there a cherry you discussed on this show that did not work well for commercial distribution?

    • @JayDiesel,

      Nankiing Bush Cherry, it and many other similar plants are actually small cherry like plumbs. They separate from the stem when picked, if stored for a day or more they “leak” cherry juice out the hole. There is also plants such as Japanese Bush Cherry which is also Korean Bush Cherry, etc. They are all the same family but Nanking is the most common in the US right now.

      Scientific Names as follows

      Nanking is (Prunus tomentosa)
      Japanese/Korean is (Prunus japonica)

  20. Hey Jack and Geoff,

    I honestly haven’t had much interest in perma culture until this episode. I had been focusing on the animal end of the equation, and not the plants nearly as much. Geoff is a great teacher, and just listening, and being open to the idea sparked my interest. I live in the Sonoran Desert, and I can’t wait to make it bloom. I love the idea of doing what they say can’t be done.

    I live in the wonderful combination of dry as hell desert, and suburban small yard. I have about .25 acres total. Any particular books or DVDs I should start with? I planted some trees in hugel beds, but I have a big side yard I would love to convert into a perma paradise.

    • @Andy, the best resource I can really recommend is Geoff’s Urban Permaculture DVD. If you want to do up your own back yard the ideas and concepts in that DVD are priceless.

  21. Jack,

    Now that you are Geoff are such good friends 🙂 maybe you could mention to him about distrubiting just the video files of his permaculture stuff rather than DVD’s. Think Louis CK style. I don’t want to buy stuff on physical media anymore.

    • @Jerry, it is a better model! I do plan to discuss it with him. People need to let go of stuff like, “but then it will be on youtube and torrents” because if anyone thinks it is any good it is going to be on youtube and torrents anyway.

  22. Nice job guys. Jack, as metaforge mentioned above, It seems like Geoff knows so much it was kind of hard to get into specifics, but you did a good job asking the money questions. I wish he would’ve been able to get into a few more specific sample how-tos for the suburban folks, but hey, now I just need to buy the DVD! 🙂

    Thanks again guys.


  23. Hi,
    I just received a package from Australia. Purchased 4 books and 5 DVDs.

    Only one of the DVDs will play. The other 4 are in the PAL format.

    Can anyone tell me how to play a PAL formatted disk?

    Did they send me the wrong disks?