The Homeless Romantic Podcast
The Homeless Romantic Podcast
David Holmgren | Godfather of Permaculture | #47 Homeless Romantic Podcast

My friend David Holmgren stops by to discuss his work in Permaculture and creating more sustainable ways of life. We also touch on some of the reasons why the message of Permaculture has been hindered or ignored. He gives a few examples of other cultures from the past who have done a better job in living WITH nature rather than attempting to dominate it. This is an important conversation with an inspirational and brilliant human being.

David Holmgren is an Australian environmental designer, ecological educator and writer. He is best known as one of the co-originators of the permaculture concept with Bill Mollison.
Holmgren was born in Fremantle, Western Australia in February 1955, the second of three children. His parents Venie and Jack Holmgren were bookshop proprietors, activists committed to social justice, and former members of the communist party who raised their children to question authority and stand up for their beliefs.

Holmgren was dux of John Curtin High School, but this remained unrecorded on the roll of honour due to his ‘dissident attitude’. On completing high school he hitchhiked around Australia, before moving to Tasmania in 1974 to study at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education’s Department of Environmental Design. In the alternative education environment there he chose to study landscape design, ecology and agriculture

Holmgren first met Bill Mollison in 1974 when Mollison spoke at a seminar at the Department of Environmental Design. This led to an intense working relationship over the next three years, with Holmgren and Mollison sharing a house and garden, putting ideas into practice and collecting useful plant species. Holmgren wrote the manuscript for what would become Permaculture One: a perennial agricultural system for human settlements as he completed his Environmental Design studies, and submitted it as the major reference for his thesis. He then handed the manuscript to Mollison for editing and additions, before it was published in 1978.

Holmgren’s development of permaculture ideas and practices were also strongly influenced by Haikai Tane, as well as the work of P. A. Yeomans, Franklin Hiram King, Howard T. Odum and Albert Howard.

Holmgren initially concentrated his efforts on testing and refining his theories, first on his mother’s property in southern New South Wales (Permaculture in the Bush, 1985; 1993) then at his own property, Melliodora, Hepburn Permaculture Gardens, at Hepburn Springs, Victoria, which he developed with his partner, Su Dennett.

He started his consultancy business Holmgren Design Services in 1983, designing and advising on a wide range of projects including:

Commonground Co-operative, Seymour Vic
Project Branchout
CERES Community Environment Park, Brunswick, Vic
‘Millpost Farm’, Bungendore NSWDavid Watson Millpost: A broad acre    permaculture farm since 1979

‘Energy descent action and planning in the Hepburn Shire’ report for Hepburn Shire, exploring innovation in sustainability and resilience planning at the local level

The publication in December 2002 of Holmgren’s major work on permaculture saw a deeper and more accessible systematisation of the principles of permaculture refined by Holmgren over more than 25 years of practice. The book, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability, is dedicated to Howard T. Odum, who died two months before its publication, and it owes much to Odum’s vision of a world in energy transition.

Principles and Pathways offers twelve key permaculture design principles, each explained in separate chapters. It is regarded as a major landmark in permaculture literature, especially as the seminal work, Bill Mollison’s Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual (1988) was published fifteen years previously and has never been revised.

The Homeless Romantic Podcast

Traveling and surviving like barnacles on the hull of society is undoubtedly a hard and depressing journey but adversity always yields the most amazing and hilarious stories.

Activists, Academics, Artists, Hobos, Inventors, Musicians, Crazy People and anyone interesting occasionally stop by and have long form conversations with me. Most telling stories from their adventures and travels but also topics ranging from past to future.

Everyone I know has a story to tell and I am always to excited to talk with someone new. Random stories of debauchery and survival in a society that doesn’t value compassion and creativity. The flowers that grow between the cracks in the street have a story to tell.