Sunday, March 20, 2011

There is not only one Permaculture Job !

The role we take on as a Permaculturist is to facilitate and participate in Caring for the Earth, Care for the People and Fair share. We design systems with abundance as the outcome, abundant supply of produce, energy and resources to sustain the system and all elements within.

Sustainability is defined as “a system that produces more energy than it consumes and enough in surplus to maintain and replace that system over its lifetime” Geoff Lawton

Using the principles of Permaculture design this is all possible whether you have a back yard, balcony, roof top or for in my circumstance a tropical island.

The office

Working in the corporate world of Permaculture is a little different from growing veggies in your back yard. There will be more opportunity for Permaculturist as more companies appreciate the role a Permaculturist can play in addressing the global challenges of today faced by all. “Global Warming, Food Crisis and Peak Oil” Permaculturist can support and achieve environmental sustainable goals organizations now strive for...

Six Senses goal is to have all resorts Decarbonized by 2020 in line with the Government of the Republic of the Maldives directive. Soneva Fushi is to be decarbonized by 2012.

Raja, Russell Eco Centro

Entrance to Outdoor Clasroom Eco Centro

Eco Centro over the period of 2009- 2010 achieved a carbon emissions reversal of 19 tons of CO2 as a result of efforts in recycling. Eco Centro was designed by Australian Permaculturist Wayne Wadsworth. His design incorporated the use of pyrolysis ovens for making charcoal / bio char that captures green house gasses in the wood to then be sequester into soil as bio char for soil improvement, we have taken that a step further and add 10% to our hot composting system. A Bio Gas plant to capture methane from decaying vegetable waste has also been trialed and proven to work. This system along with the charcoal making can reduce the impact Peak oil can have on a remote island by supplying renewable cooking fuels against imported LPG Gas and commercially made charcoal.

Solution to Peak Oil/ Global Warming 

Solution Food Crisis

Include the composting system, water harvesting techniques, guild selection and planting green manures, mulches, various garden bed designs for soil improvement and coping with the climatic conditions of living in the wet/ dry tropics all seem pretty straight forward for a Permaculturist to handle. After all we have the books to fall back on? As Bill Mollison said to me “you know what you are doing, pick a country you would like to help and take a few reference books”

Bill & Lisa Mollison / Geoff Lawton
APC10 Cairns

I packed more than a few reference books, Permaculture A Designers’ (Manual Bill Mollison) , Natural control of Garden Pests (Jackie French), Introduction to Permaculture (Bill Mollison), Outdoor Classrooms a handbook for school gardens (Carolyn Nuttall & Janet Millington ), My PDC notes and a Seed Catalogue from Green Harvest , Permaculture 2,  Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture (Bill Mollison),  The Global Gardner Series by Bill Mollison. A series of DVD’s from and Geoff Lawton’s’ Establishing a Food Forest, and  Water Harvesting The Permaculture Way Series, Introduction to Permaculture Design and Bombora the history of Australian Surfing!!! All have been used and referred to either by myself or during the education of others.

Education is a very important aspect of the role here. I am often asked “what is Permaculture”?  To answer this I have prepared a Introduction to   Permaculture presentation that covers the meaning of the word “Permaculture “ the Philosophy, what Permaculture is Design, values and ethics, the challenges faced by the world today: Global Warming, Food Crisis, Peak Oil and how Permaculture offers solutions to solve these issues. Then it covers the Ethics and principles with a pictorial representation of each of the principles. I then show one of Bills documentaries from the Global Gardner series depending on who is attending and which climate zone they are from. In all this takes around an hour.     

Education is also woven into conducted Eco tours of the resort to the various gardens and the Eco Centro “Waste to Wealth” Centro where “Waste” inputs can be traced to the “Wealth” outputs of bio char, compost, mulches and renewable cooking fuels, gas and charcoal.   

Education is ongoing and has been delivered to management, staff within my team which includes a horticulturist and 11 workers in 3 different garden areas. Eco Centro, Fresh in the Garden and the Vegetable Garden. Other hosts, guests, guests and hosts children, government officials, local communities and schools plus members of private organizations. It never stops which is great as I do get to meet people who can make a difference and do.

Victor from Moscow

Guests to date have included French Organic Wine documentary maker Isabelle Legeron and  Organic and biodynamic wine maker Fredrick and Claude Joussett Drouhin, Michelin star chief Skye Gyngell of Petersham Nurseries, Darina and Tim Allen of “Ballymaloe Cookery School, Organic Farm and Garden” Ireland  and most recently Clive and Phyll of Ata Rangi, Martinborough organic wine makers of New Zealand

Isabelle Legeron  

Skye Gyngell 

Fredrick and Claude Joussett Drouhin

There is also dealing with journalists and TV crews doing stories and making programmes on sustainability aspects of the resort or the Maldives in general. A couple had won a competition to be stranded on a deserted island to experience the Robinson Crusoe ordeal. We were asked to plant a few vegetables and herbs for them and on the boat trip over I got to see a Manta Ray and flying fish, all in a days work as the Permaculturist.

Ali with garden

Nibiligaa Island



There are also numerous guests who come for holidays that have shown great interest in the commitment the resort and the company Six Senses has made to a sustainable future for tourism in the Maldives and offer their support to help achieve company objectives.

I have been asked to share my knowledge and expertise (or any written materials) to assist communities who intend to start composting as waste management is one of the key areas of concern in Maldives. The request has come from a local environmental consultancy firm (CDE Maldives); they are putting together an awareness program on Permaculture which is to be a part of the National Solid Waste Management Project currently on going in Baa Atoll region.
On the other hand guests ask questions like:


Sorry to be a bore but it would be great if someone could explain both the process and the nature of the building required to grow the mushrooms and any photos would be really welcome

Many thanks for the tour of the eco-centre and the gardens we much enjoyed it
As ever

Internally questions are frequently being asked all in a days work from applying for the importation of bees to the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries, finding more varieties of mushroom spawn, sourcing a fan belt, costing of a bio gas plant and the writing of a care plan for a nature reserve.  The best is, can I find another Permaculturist to work for the company in Thailand. This is what has spurred me to write this article as there are and will be more paying jobs for us (Permaculturists) and I wanted to give an insight into what they could be like.  At my PDC taught by Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton, Geoff said it was time for Permaculturist to put the suit on and sit side by side with the big businesses of the world. Fortunately I don’t have to wear a suit or shoes but there is a uniform and codes of conduct and life rules for living on an island resort that apply to me as with all living and working here.

Suited and booted

Work Clothes

Cocktail dress

 I have only touched the surface really as there is another world you have to enter, the world of hospitality a whole new language, Pax, covers, F&B, housekeeping, HR, IT, purchase request order, purchasing department, GM, MD, Assistant Director, supervisor, Spar, GRO, Life, A&G, BSPM, monthly report, training hours, managers meeting, one to one, pest control, budgets, output figures, financial controller, Chairman, Marine Biologist, Projects director, Decarbonising team, PR ….. The list goes on!!!!

Then there are 20 different nationalities all living and sharing the same space which requires another set of communication skills, understanding of cultural differences, customs and norms, foods, entertainment.

Burgers and Thai stir fry

Boys having fun

The isolation of living on an island far from home and what may have been the norm in the past .. leaving work behind at the close of day has faded.  

A new day awaits

Island life as a Permaculturist J

There is not only one Permaculture Job




  1. Thank you Mark for a wonderfull view of what you do and how it all works.
    I can see lots of good change from your first blog

  2. Mark,

    Great site! Such an inspiration to those of us who share your passions. Im taking your advice on the PDC and will try to correspond with you on a regular basis. I will be back in the Maldives in June and will find my way to your paradise for some catch up.

    Im sure I'll have lots of questions to pose.