GAR­DEN­ING REV­O­LU­TION

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

m sure if it were you who de­vised and de­signed the double-dig­ging method of Olde English-style gar­dens – as dreaded as it was – you should be suit­ably re­mem­bered for the in­tro­duc­tion of a time-hon­oured gar­den tech­nique. So too should Aus­tralian Bill Mol­li­son. He was des­ig­nated the ‘king of per­ma­cul­ture’ – an Aus­tralian who started a global move­ment in or­ganic gar­den­ing and fused two words into a hy­bridised phe­nom­e­non from ‘per­ma­nent and agri­cul­ture’, which are now part of any gar­den- and veg­etable-grow­ing lex­i­con in nu­mer­ous lan­guages.

He died in his na­tive Tas­ma­nia on Septem­ber 24 at the age of 88.

A life led ear­lier as an aca­demic and tak­ing a view that all was not as pre­sented and un­happy with that lot, he went about de­vis­ing ways and means to in­cor­po­rate soil im­prove­ment, chick­ens at times and the pro­duc­tion of or­ganic veg­eta­bles with­out chem­i­cals to pro­duce healthy and sustainable veg­etable gar­dens.

Not to men­tion a de­vel­op­ing un­der­stand­ing of the soil biota that con­sid­ered microbes, pathogens and other mil­len­nia mi­cro­scop­ics that keep chang­ing our soils as liv­ing or­gan­isms.

Us­ing old card­board and re­new­ing the idea of what is a mulch, chick­ens to turn the straw while aer­at­ing, feed­ing and im­prov­ing the soil were prin­ci­ples at the heart of per­ma­cul­ture and its move­ment. Not a long­time move­ment, but one with enough mo­men­tum to get people in­ter­ested in goodqual­ity veg­eta­bles that was do­ing some­thing for our en­vi­ron­ment.

Mol­li­son was of­ten de­cried as a bit of a hippy, as many of his sup­port­ers took on the role of apos­tles of the method and spread the word as dis­ci­ples do.

In­ter­est­ingly, he de­vised a set of 12 prin­ci­ples that mim­icked na­ture and Her ways. That in­cluded us as part of the eth­i­cal, so­ci­o­log­i­cal, eco­log­i­cal and of­ten eco­nomic com­bi­na­tions. This re­sulted in what could be con­sid­ered an evo­lu­tion from the per­ma­cul­ture idea that had its gen­e­sis in the late 1960s to the hot new term ‘bio­phila’, as we un­der­stand it today – con­nect­ing our­selves in ur­ban liv­ing with more na­ture.

The prin­ci­ples seem to have come full circle as it is these that were first pro­posed to off­set any im­bal­ances from na­ture, cli­mate and pos­si­ble disas­ters – leav­ing us with a work­able sys­tem of ed­i­bles that would keep us go­ing no mat­ter what hap­pened.

A bit of a dooms­day men­tal­ity, and not all that bad when con­sid­ered in con­text.

Al­though the worst has yet to hap­pen, the idea that we can grow food, con­nect with na­ture and see things in bal­ance for the part we play is a more re­cently sober­ing thought.

Maybe Mol­li­son was on the right track. Maybe the idea that we could feed our­selves in a sustainable way us­ing per­ma­cul­ture as a guide isn’t such a bad idea.

Thank you, Mr Mol­li­son. A life well lived and val­ued.

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