A visit to Geoff Lawton & Zaytuna farm
24 years after getting into permaculture I had never met Geoff Lawton or seen his place. I decided to do something about that and did a 2 week earthworks course at Zaytuna farm. I learnt plenty about water, plenty about permaculture and met some great people doing the course or volunteering at his farm. I also fundamentally changed what I want to do with permaculture.
Make a living doing permaculture design?
I’d been trying to do this for years but wasnt getting the work. I was getting work designing houses, or commercial landscape plans or wastewater design. But I wasnt getting asked to link it all together the permaculture way. I was frustrated at how poorly permaculture is understood and the environmental crisis that rages on because of it.
I asked Geoff for advice. I had seen plenty of media Geoff and to be honest had made a whole lot of judgements about him, permaculture and business which turned out to be completely wrong. Real world Geoff is enraged at the problems and is frantically busy pouring in time and money he doesnt have in an effort to fix them. He’s funny, caring and kind of tired. What he’d really like to do is to wind it down, go surfing or fishing and admire amazing work done by other people.
I thought about Geoffs advice, the urgency of the environmental crisis and that one day I’ll be dead so hurry up and do something. This is what I do:
If a potential customer enquires, I tell them I only do permaculture work. If they don’t want that, I refer them to someone else. As it happens, enough people do want that, so I am kept busy doing 100% permaculture design. If demand drops off I will put more time into promoting permaculture, but so far the balance has been good. I work part time and charge a decent amount for my time. This funds a whole lot of unpaid work I do promoting permaculture and generally trying to save the planet.
One way I feel I can contribute is in mentoring young designers. I started an Architecture degree over 30 years ago. Design is harder than it looks and about 25 years later I started feeling I had gained wisdom in the exercise. I talk to students of architecture, town planning, landscape architecture and environmental engineering who are angry and scared about the problems, went to uni to learn how to fix them and uni has failed them. I think I can help .
How I am trying to be a little bit like Geoff
I am promoting and educating what permaculture is, how you do it and how it can save us all. In so doing, I create a demand for more permaculture work than I can do. I intend to create far more demand for permaculture design work than I can possibly do. I mentor young people to do this work well. I expect to be busy for a while and then maybe I’ll wind it down, go surfing and admire amazing work done by other people.