Dear Permaculture Island,
My Introduction to permaculture was a slow, misinformed, misunderstood journey!! As a ‘youth’ on the Island i followed some not so environmentally friendly habits of course!! Growing up here introduced me to nature and it’s beauty.. but i had no appreciation for where our food came from? Or the complex eco systems which ultimately sustain our lives. As i grew up and embarked on university and mainland life, i started to meet a wider, more diverse, colourful population. University life unveiled wild conspiracy theories linked to climate change, peak oil, the elite and the way the in which the world operated. I did get lost in some of those theories for a while!! But that is ultimately where my curiosity began. I wanted so much to understand the connection i felt with nature.. the sun rise.. the sunset.. without becoming religious about it!! They were thought provoking years indeed..
Eleven years ago, i had my beautiful son and chose to relocate back to the Island. Determined not to fall back into old circles and old habits, i embarked on clearing out the old and embracing the future. This began with me clearing out my closet.. and ultimately creating a new business and self employment based on recycling and reusing the material life i had made!! A few years into my venture, i met Lucy and Gavin. In no uncertain terms, they changed my life. Although i had my vision.. my business.. it lacked a change within my self. I recognised something was missing.. i wasn’t pushing forward in the way i had hoped. Soon, it all came to a bit of a head, where i seemed to level out instead of continuing to grow. I was happy with this ultimately, as work life slowed down also and i was able to think again!
After meeting Lucy & Gavin, an allotment i had previously applied for.. became available. I had always wanted to be more self sufficient. It was part of my vision and my desire to change. Yet i had absolutely no clue where to begin!! I was/am a busy working mother. When on earth was i going to find the time to grow vegetables!!!! Que: Permaculture Island… Through our early years of friendship, i learnt a lot about permaculture, peak oil and sustainable living. More than just banded about university/flippant conversations. The reason I learnt more and paid more attention, was because i saw it in real life applied action. The values, the core beliefs, the actual science!! It resonated with me. I knew that although i may never end up with my own ‘permaculture island’, the concept fit in very nicely with where i was/am on my journey in this life. Not only morally, but practically. The no dig approach offered a ‘less work’ alternative.. akin to mimicking nature and replenishing the soil which i came to learn has been irrevocably depleted over years through ‘big ag’ (Agriculture.) The less work/time manageable approach appealed..
I began to use my resourcefulness to acquire a shed.. tools.. and indeed a few plants!! To begin on my own allotment adventure. With an untold amount of physical and mental support from Lucy & Gavin, we began to transform my overgrown plot and my mind haha!! I learned first hand, how to embrace nature for direct gains/food in return for restoring the balance of the soil and it’s nutritional value. Permaculture isn’t about reaping what you can sow, it is about finding a balance that is sustainable. Lucy & Gavin taught me a great deal about nutritional value, sustainable farming and the science of soil/mulching. They have ultimately allowed my journey to evolve, whilst supporting me along the way.
Permaculture Island not only offers amazing educational support, they offer a first hand insight into sustainable farming/living and proof that an alternative way of life/farming is achievable. They inspire change and self reflection.. They encourage small, gentle steps, by no means through preaching or lectures!!! One of their motto’s being ‘Think Global, Act Local.’ I find this can be applied to nearly every aspect of my life… Whilst i have no desire to completely change my life overnight.. i do have a desire for change. I have a desire to see a more sustainable future for my son and our planet. I am by no means a ‘hippy’ and have never attained that recognition, nor would i want to!! I am a somewhat normal part of our society with a simple recognition that the planet as it is, is not sustainable. Our way of life is not sustainable. The desire/connection i felt about this, was there long before i met Lucy & Gavin. They have simply offered an insight into the possibilities that lay before each and everyone of us with a desire/recognition for change. They have so eloquently enabled me to recognise, that change starts within.. they have offered me an insight into my own skill sets and inspired me to action with new found confidence!!
I believe more Lucy & Gavin’s in the world would be a treasure.. and i know there are many many others just as inspiring, who are following similar paths of leading by example. You only have to look across the globe to see a vast permaculture movement. As more and more of our systems are tested and stretched.. more and more of us are recognising climate and energy issues ahead…more and more of us are recognising the ‘need’ for change in order to maintain some form of sustainable civilisation in years to come.. we truly need more and more Lucy & Gavin’s to help educate us and inspire us to action. Change comes from within.. but it helps if you have a bloody good guide or two!!! I Thank You Lucy & Gavin.. I Love Permaculture Island.. Long may i continue to learn from you.. Long may my own desire fuel my journey.. “Think Global.. Act Local.”
Mrs Catherine McDonald
Thanks again so much for the brilliant private tour on Sunday before last. We both found it extremely interesting and useful! We cannot overstate how much of an impact the wonderful tour you provided has had upon us and our plans.
I was not previously aware of the significant differences between formal gardening / farming modalities and permaculture. But our afternoon with you both at Permaculture Island has left us with a radically different (and we think a far better) blueprint for our own project in terms of cultivating plants to grow our own food.
I can’t overstate the value of coming to learn about the changes you’ve both undergone during your journey into self sufficiency. What we learned from you both will save us incalculable amounts of time and effort. I now see that a lot of the work I had previously planned to do to cultivate my own land can either be minimised or in some cases avoided altogether, in favour of more efficient methodologies, and streamlined solutions which both require less labour, and also are in greater harmony with the wider ecosystem. I can’t believe permaculture practices are not more widespread. Permaculture seems like a hidden gem among horticulture models. It clearly has so many benefits over modern widespread ways of gardening and farming. Perhaps that has to do with permaculture implying and possibly requiring a different way of life from the one to which most of us have been accustomed.
I feel like I could write an essay about how glad I am to have discovered this new way of thinking about sustainability, and am very grateful to you both for all that you managed to pack into the tour.
You taught us so much – a brilliant balance of the overarching ideologies of permaculture, fleshed out and brought to life time and again by the real, working examples right there in front of us during the tour. From slugs, to maximising yield, to keeping chickens – you taught us something better than what we thought we already knew to be optimal practices about these and so many aspects of a sustainable lifestyle. In our opinion there is nowhere else on the island we could have gone to have gained such valuable insights into living sustainably. We have never met anyone growing anywhere near as much of their own food as yourselves, and we’re firmly of the opinion that what you are both doing is leagues ahead of pretty much everyone else on the island in terms of sustainability and minimal ecological footprint. We want to tell everyone about you guys!
You both are a living embodiment of permaculture in motion – you’re not just teaching it, you’re living it! Visiting Permaculture Island has been the most exciting and inspirational thing we’ve done in ages. Our beds are now fully mulched, and we are working our way through some of the suggested online resources you gave us.
Best Regards Michael & Vix Rhoads
Thank you so much from all of us for our tour on Saturday. We had a fabulous time and it was so interesting to hear all about permaculture and forest gardening and listening to how passionate you both are about what you do. We all feel really inspired! I’ve been spreading the word! Thanks for the tasters, goodies and half time tea! Hope to see you again, I know a few people that would love to come and see what you do. Highly recommended!