Holding a worm (c) Rianne Mason

7 ways permaculture has changed my life

My first year of discovering permaculture has been so rewarding and it’s changed my life forever. Here’s how…

1. I’ve connected to my community

Inspire community plant sale (c) Rianne Mason
The Inspire Community Garden plant sale (c) Rianne Mason

I’ve been volunteering at my local organic community garden and it’s the first time I’ve really felt connected to my home town. I’ve always been a bit of a ‘global thinker’ and that’s often meant that I’ve missed things that are happening right under my nose – this garden was one of them.

By connecting with the garden I’ve experienced selling plants at our local market and talking to other people about their gardens. I’ve learnt that we have a Transition group to help make our town greener and I’ve seen the incredible generosity of our little community.

There’s nothing more rewarding than feeling connected to people and contributing to the growth and well-being of your neighbours.

2. I value my ‘soft skills’

Cat in the greenhouse (c) Rianne Mason
Listening to a cat in a greenhouse (c) Rianne Mason

I actually hate the term ‘soft skills’ but I’m not sure what else to call them. I’m talking about the qualities you see or feel in people that aren’t graded or measured by a qualification. It’s the stuff that makes you a great human.

There was a time, not so long ago, where I lost myself in trying to get a shiny LinkedIn account and look good on paper so that I was desirable to employers. I love a certificate (who doesn’t?!). But I wasn’t happy and checking boxes led me to losing sight of the skills that really made me, well, me.

In the world of permaculture I found that compassion for others, listening, patience and empathy are right at the heart of what brings out the best in people and the planet. I’m in a world where stories are more valuable than stats and that’s my kind of world.

3. I’ve met incredible people

I mean incredible people. I’ve met people that have been travelling for over a year by volunteering on farms, people who are masters in natural building, people who are working with refugee camps, people who own their own eco village, or their own landscaping business, or their own guest house…

Generally people who are passionate about life and want to protect it in all of it’s forms. These are the people I want to be around.

4. I’ve tried things I would never have thought of (like straw-bale building!)

You know those days when you wake up, feed the sheep, burn bamboo for three hours and then stack hay bales to make a natural building? Yeah me neither – until I took my PDC.

I found myself working with nature and natural materials in ways I would never have dreamed of. And I have to tell you, it’s enlightening! Learning that nature provides everything for you is kind of a relief. All of my energy is now focused on how we can protect and regenerate these beautiful gifts.

It’s also a lot of fun learning these new skills. I’ve found myself thinking of taking a willow weaving class because, you know, willow just grows out the frikkin ground! When you cut it to make a basket, or a living archway, or a support for your beans, it still continues to grow out the frikkin ground!

5. I connect everything to energy

This seems like a no-brainer now but I swear, before studying permaculture, I didn’t think water usage was a major worry – because it all ends up in the sea anyway right? I didn’t think about energy. I didn’t think about the energy it takes to treat the water before it gets to you and when it leaves you.

Then I learnt about compost toilets. Yes, I’m going to talk about toilets. Imagine a world where your waste is used to feed your own crops, or someone’s nearby, and was managed in a way that it actually smells sweet.

Now the concept of using gallons of water, energy and chemicals to remove a fertiliser that we then buy in, or artificially create, to grow our food seems a bit bonkers.

If you study permaculture and learn about the cycle of energy, a lot of things will start to seem bonkers.

6. I’ve completely changed direction

Holding a worm (c) Rianne Mason
The joy of finding a worm in your plot (c) Rianne Mason

No, no I’m not in the compost toilet business, but I have changed my focus in life quite dramatically. It could be the fact that I’m in my thirties, where a whole second adolescence happens that no-one tells you about, but it has a lot to do with seeing the world through a permaculture lens.

I used to be (and still partly am) a digital content whiz/manager/editor/champion… whichever one of the many titles I’ve had over the years. Now I’m studying horticulture and permaculture.

I’ll never let go of the digital world completely, it’s a pretty cool tool to reach the masses. But I really just want to be outside now please, with the bees and the plants and the birds and the ants… maybe one day teaching others about the golden epiphany of how nature provides all.

7. I’m hopeful for our future

Duck with duckling (c) Rianne Mason
A duck with her baby (c) Rianne Mason

One of the mantras of permaculture thinking is ‘turn your problem into the solution’. Bill Mollison puts this neatly in the analagy “you don’t have a slug problem, you have a duck deficiency”.

This solutions-based thinking is seen everywhere in sustainability, with some incredible examples of innovation. It gives me great hope that the next generations will have the tools they need to live in harmony with their only home – earth.

I recently watched 2040 – an inspiring film which highlights the fact that we already have all the technology and knowledge we need to turn the tide of our unsustainable way of living. We have everything we need right now to thrive. We just have to choose it.

So let’s choose it, let’s choose a world where everyone, today and tomorrow, can thrive. Let’s choose permaculture.

Learn more

Learn everything you need to know about permaculture principles:

Join the Permaculture Association:

Read Permaculture magazine:

Listen to the Permaculture podcast:

2040 – available on Google Play

Inhabit: A permaculture perspective – available here:

The magic pill (my gateway drug into sustainable agriculture) – available on Netflix

2 thoughts on “7 ways permaculture has changed my life

  1. “you don’t have a slug problem, you have a duck deficiency”.
    Nice quote. Also, I’d love to try straw bale buildings, and compost toilets. I have also been plugged into permaculture since I watched a BBC documentary about it. Talking of Bill Morrison, I’m going to be listening to his lectures as I cut some beans I’ve collected from my garden. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

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