The road to permaculture, besides being paved with good intentions, detours through some unusual places. Liza's journey is no exception:
Well, it’s a bit of a convoluted story but it probably started at school in Gosford where we were lucky enough to have a large school farm with chickens, ducks, pigs, sheep, bees, veggies and fruit trees. My Ag. teacher was a big inspiration…he encouraged us to read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and spoke passionately about the harm being done by agribusiness and the use of pesticides and mono-culture. This was in the late 70’s, just as Bill Mollison and David Holmgren released Permaculture One.
At home we had a menagerie of ducks, a rabbit, a dog and a horse who slept together in a heap and always welcomed the orphans I bought home from my weekend job at the Reptile Park. It was a bit of a mad household! I wanted to be a zoologist or wildlife photographer but somehow ended up teaching English as a foreign language and travelling the world.
My interest in permaculture was reignited when I was living in Jordan and a friend working for an NGO there told me about a permaculture project they were working on with the Ministry of Agriculture. I went out there to help dig swales one weekend and met the amazing people, both men and women, who were applying permaculture principles to their farms and using them as demonstration sites for other farmers as well as increasing and diversifying their own incomes. A cooperative and trading store were also set up in the village creating employment and further community links and spin-off projects.
This wasn’t long after Geoff Lawton’s Greening the Desert project (see www.permaculture.org.au) which is an impressive demonstration of using permaculture techniques to totally transform seemingly dead and barren land into a lush productive ecosystem very quickly.