Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bali is Home

Bali is now where I call home.

While working in the Maldives I meet John Hardy at the SLOW LIFE Symposium where he spoke on his vision for the Green School in Bali and how it became a reality.

Off to be blessed

 John saw what we were doing on Soneva Fushi … Growing vegetables on sand!!!
As John is a supporter for edible food scapes everywhere and sustainable bamboo construction we struck up a friendship. Which has now led me to Bali.

Garden to Table gets better John

One cold summer day in London were I had just finished speaking at John invited me to come to Bali. I was booked to return to London 3 weeks later as I thought I was heading to the States to install a garden I had previously designed.

After a week John and Cynthia made me an offer I could not refuse and at the same time the US garden was cancelled. I have now been here 3 months, I never returned to London and now have all I need to stay for much, much longer to do what I do, be a “PERMACULTURIST”

The opportunity to work with forward thinking people such as John, Elora and Orin Hardy who have committed themselves to making a real change is so inspiring and rewarding.

Orin Hardy and Komang first no dig garden at Bambu Indah

I have had the opportunity to further demonstrate how turning organic waste into wealth through growing soil for sustainable organic food production is possible again on impoverished soil.
What we have to start with Lifeless Paradise

During my Permaculture Design Course Bill Mollison was asked would he go to Bali and run a course? His comment was why try to create paradise in paradise.
I thought this was a fair answer but having spent the time looking into the agricultural practices here I wish Bill had come to Paradise, as it is not Paradise when it comes to soil health.  Every one I meet says it is so easy to grow here you just throw a seed into the ground and up it comes. For the untrained eye it looks like a plant but under closer inspection the reality is they are not healthy plants to grow healthy people.

Growing Soil and closing the loop of waste

Again abiding to the principles of Permaculture design has shown that the Ph is 8-10, no soil life in hard clay bare soil watered twice daily and only cow dung or some chicken poo applied before planting.

Ph not fit for vegetables

The mission I have chosen here in Bali is to demonstrate how through sticking to the ethics and principles of Permaculture by designing closed loop waste management systems to create wealth from what is considered waste we all can grow healthy soil to grow healthy plants to grow healthy People.

Recycle Centre

Organic Wealth Centre at Bambu Indah

We are already on the way to success, Orin and my self have teamed up to form a great team as Orin is a Permaculturist and studied at the Regenerative Design Institute plus has a Liberal Arts Degree in environmental sustainability. Orin spent the first half of his life in Bali which gives him an in-depth knowledge of Balinese and Indonesian culture plus both Languages.

Hot Composting

Banana Circle workshop
These skills are invaluable for the workshops we hold and for project management on site.  Bagus!!! We are all about education and for all. Currently we run a workshop every Wednesday afternoon where we have gardeners from the Green School, Green Village, and Bamboo Indah all Indonesian then we also have westerners living in Bali also attending.   

Worm Farm

Come along if you are in Ubud more the better.

I will write about the work we do as it is varied from private residences to being part of SLOW FOOD Bali meetings.

Chicken Tractor

Solid Gold .. Waste to Wealth 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

“Deep ecology, permaculture and sustainability are concepts that planted the early seeds of green thinking” Gunter Pauli and a bottle of sustainably grown and produced natural wine !

“Deep Ecology, Permaculture and Sustainability are concepts that planted the early seeds of green thinking” Gunter Pauli

I can’t believe it has been nearly 3 months since my last Blog. Here I go at filling some of the spaces and having a little rant ?

Brick Lane home of Rawfair

Since leaving the Caribbean in May I went to the UK where I spoke at a conference dedicated to natural, organic, biodynamic wine production that had over 250 wine producers from all over the world. 

The response was amazing 

It was a joint speaking arrangement with Monty Waldin a Biodynamic, Organic wine writer and grower. The topic was Understanding how biodynamics and permaculture can help you be green-fingered. I gave an introduction to Permaculture presentation and Monty gave an overview on Biodynamic principles. We then farmed questions from the audience on sustainable agricultural principles.

Permac... nearly got it out !!

 I also attended various other talks on sustainable wine growing and the common thread was to grow Organically or Biodynamically… And I couldn’t agree more. Sadly the word Permaculture was never used by speakers or members of the audience… except me .. I had to !!!

Nicholas Joly

I raised the question to Nicolas Joly (Biodynamic wine expert) “where does Permaculture fit in the scheme of things” He explained how it was an important contribution to Organic and Biodynamic farming taking the whole system into consideration.

I still felt after speaking to various growers that Permaculture was not seen as a whole system design and not under stood.  Soil building systems are grouped as either Organic or Biodynamic practices… It seems Permaculture is not a word people commonly use outside the Permaculture sphere? Why?  When Permaculture is a science that has been proven time and time again in all climates.  

Slides from Nicholas Joly presentation  Soil Soil Soil !!!

 As a Permaculture designer working in remote locations  I include Biodynamic and Organic systems where possible though the main focus is to be sustainable using the local resources available to grow healthy soil to grow healthy plants to grow healthy people.  Are all organic farms or Biodynamic farms sustainable? During my talk the question of water harvesting was asked of the audience and only one person did it?

Soil life, Soil life, Soil life

Gunter Pauli writer of The Blue Economy says “Deep ecology, permaculture and sustainability are concepts that planted the early seeds of green thinking”. Such ideas taught us to appreciate the use of sustainable materials in our structures and products.”

I have had other Permaculturist say “it doesn’t matter what “it” is called as long as the principles are being used” Is this true? If people don’t know what Permaculture is will the principles be used to create“ Whole closed loop systems of waste to abundance” for food, wine, clean energy, clean air, clean water and sustainable housing for all?

Microbes,  Microbes, Microbes

Permaculture does this, organic and biodynamic farming are only a part of the Permaculture System Solution. In “Nature, the waste of one process is always a nutrient, a material or a source of energy for another” Gunter Pauli.  Closed loop systems of abundance created through ecosystem design is what we should be aiming for, minimal inputs for high outputs that do not pollute or exploit all living within the natural environment.

"Natural Farming, Eco Farming Cultural Practices"

If we can ask ourselves these 8 questions every time we make a decision we would all be living in a better place.

Permaculture Principles

  1. Relative location of elements placed to assist each other.                                             (If I place A (house) here, will it help B (heat house), will B (heated house) support C (Lower energy bill?)
  2. Each element performs many functions at least 3. (What are the 3 uses of this?)  
  3. Efficient energy planning (zones and sectors)-     (is all I use and do designed for minimal effort for maxium output?)  
  4. Emphasis on use of biological resources over fossil fuels                                               (Is this a renewable energy or a sustainable resource) 
  5. Energy recycling on site (fuel and human)
     (Am I conserving my energy and natures?)
  1. Using and accelerating natural plant succession to establish favourable sites and soils.              (Am I growing, improving soil?)
  2. Polyculture and diversity to benefit species for productive, interactive systems                   (am I supporting the eco system)
  3. Use of edge and natural patterns for best effect.    (Am I working with Nature or against it?)  

That Crazy French Woman - thank you for the opportunity to discuss "PERMACULTURE"

Friday, May 4, 2012

"NO WASTE ONLY WEALTH" Six Senses Laamu Resort

It is with great pleasure that I can say the Eco Centro at Six Senses Laamu has now been completed and is operational.

Construction under way

Congratulations must be given to Sonu and Eva for the vision to first build the Eco Centro “Waste To Wealth Centro” on Soneva Fushi then to have them built on all Six Senses resorts to handle the waste streams coming onto and produced on the Resorts.  It was a great pleasure to work with the team at Six Senses Laamu.They have done an amazing job building the Centro from waste construction materials keeping in the true spirit of “Waste to Wealth, Reuse, Recycle”

Recycled and Reused steel pipe and roofing iron
Palm tree through roof

Many people have played important roles to get this Centro up and running from Anthony Paton GM when I first went to Laamu, Marteyne current GM, Rajesh, Abram, Vardi, Garden crew, construction team, Garfour and Arnfinn for all your helping the early design.The design also took into consideration minimal impact on the environment reducing the number of trees to be cut down. Rajesh was a champion at this. Note Palm trees disappearing through the roof. the design also has the production areas raised for gravity to do the work when filling up bays with compost or mulches.  

Mulching in
 in style and comfort

The Eco Centro will process all organics into compost or mulch for the sustainable organic food producing gardens and for the soil improvement for the new garden currently under construction.

New garden ..growing soil on sand
50,000kg food waste below

Already 50,000 kg of food waste has been used in the soil rehabilitation in these gardens.  This means 50,000 kg of food waste and other non-organics has not been dumped into the crystal clear waters of the Maldives.

Mulch to be added now ... no bare soil

Up to 2000kg of compost is produced every 24 days

Happy Composters

The rewards are now bearing fruit. Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants and Healthy People.

Non-organics such as plastics, mixed metals and glass have their own bays for storage until sold or recycled.

Bays for all Wealth 

The Eco Centro will not only supplying the necessary compost and mulches for sustainable organic food production. It demonstrates how through good Permaculture Design pollution from island resorts in fragile environments can be a thing of the past. This pollution inturn leads to food security a lower carbon footprint and most importantly skills up employee’s enabling them to take this knowledge back to their homes and do the same. 

There is no excuse as there is no such thing as “WASTE” only “WEALTH”

Spreading the Wealth

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Stepping Stones To Sustainability" USA

 I read an article on Pathways to Sustainability recently  ( which got me thinking as it discussed 3 levels with the final level being described as:
Practices and elements which are found in households dedicated to resilience, self-sufficiency, and sustainability. The owners view their property as a system”.
This may be “A” Pathway for some but does it really mean that other household’s individuals are not dedicated to resilience, self-sufficiency, and sustainability? If they do not fit this pathway.
A common question asked when working as a PERMACULTURIST is how can I practice Permaculture, Sustainable Practices when I live in flat, I don’t have a garden, I rent, I have no idea where to start, it is all over welling.

To answer these questions I refer to the principles of Permaculture and how they can be applied in all climate zones and space requirements. As Bill Mollison says “All you need is some Sun, Seed, Water and Soil”. I would also like to add an understanding of waste management too, as it can become the soil, the water, and the seed. Plus “there is not one Permaculture”.

I must admit that I have not practiced Permaculture on any land less than 1000m2 and when reading the article above I felt proud as I fit the 3rd level? … I do have swales but no compost toilet… Am I a level 3 or not? I consider myself dedicated to the sustainability cause, am I being told I am not? I am confused!


My recent trip to the States has given me thought to Alternative Pathways to Sustainability or as I would like to say “Stepping Stones to Sustainability” as there are so many steps we can take and in every direction to be sustainable. We have to look beyond your own backyard and not only observe nature but the culture’s and traditions of where we are.

We cannot all grow food or want to for various reasons, time, space, money, motivation, and knowledge.

Santa Monica Farmers Market

Is this Nature down there?

Observing Nature is a key skill to develop as a Permaculturist … how will I do this in LA and New York?
As this was my first trip to these cities I realized in the end I was observing a nature I had never seen before.

This blog is about the observations made of activities that lead to Sustainability in an environment I am unfamiliar with though which most of us live within.

On the Edge...Fertile .. Venice Beach

I saw no Swales, Compost Toilets though there are many people using practices and elements that are a dedication to resilience, self-sufficiency, and sustainability and see their lives as a sustainable system.

 Everywhere I went I saw small and large “Stepping-Stones to Sustainability” and all walking this pathway are to be cheered and encouraged and that is the first step (Think Sustainable).

Second is to take the thought and turn it into a positive action.

When I was in Santa Monica and Malibu I went to the local farmers Markets. To be there you have progressed from Step 1. Yahoo !!! You are on the way !!

Shopping for SLOW (Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wellness) Food. You don’t have to be a Permaculturist to do this?
Importantly you are voting for a cleaner future, healthy life style and supporting those who have the knowledge, land and commitment to support you in your Sustainable life.

If we are going to buy SLOW why not eat it too when out?


I was fortunate to meet Spoon Singh owner of the Venice Beach Ale house where the commitment is to providing SLOW (Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wellness) Food and ALE J. Success of the business is shown in the patronage; over 300 meals were made on a Sunday. 300 more on a “Stepping Stone to Sustainability” supporting a sustainable small business system.


At the Alehouse I saw more innovative sustainable solutions for transport.  A Bamboo bike and electric motor cycle.

Bamboo Frame

Spoon uses the Zero for transport to and from work and around LA.The Zero motorcycle produces less than one-eighth of the CO2 pollution per mile petrol powered motorcycle. It will also produce 1/100th of emissions causing nitrous oxides.

Plugged in 

Carta Singh, Spoon’s brother manufactures the Bamboo bike and Hemp clothing.

Un Plugged

So here I was on the edge of a concrete city and all around me were ways to reduce pollution, support sustainable food production, education of others through showing what is possible if you think first about where you live. The solutions are out there for you to include in your daily life to live a sustainable life.  

The Big Apple

New York showed me mulching with tree trimmings on 5th Avenue!!! How great is that some of the most expensive real estate in the world and return of biomass to the soil at their door step !!!

5th AVE Mulching 

Then there was the separation of waste from buildings along 5th Avenue.
5Th AVE Recycling

The West Side Community Garden

The West Side Community Garden is owned and maintained by the West Side Community Garden Inc., an all-volunteer not-for-profit organization incorporated under New York State Law.

Veg Garden Plot West Side

The West Side Community Garden was founded in 1976 on a trash-strewn 89,000 square foot vacant lot on Columbus Avenue that had been slated for an urban renewal project. In 1982, the Community board, developers, and the New York City Planning Commission approved a permanent Garden plan, and a groundbreaking for the present Garden took place in October 1987. The property for the current Garden site was deeded to West Side Community Garden Inc. in November 1989.
The current design for the garden was developed by the Gardeners working with Artists and the current layout, incorporating a floral amphitheater and public seating area, was part of the Gardener’s vision from the very beginning.
Landscape designer Terry Schnadelbach took the Gardener’s vision and created a blueprint design, which was built to our specifications during 1987-88. The Garden and Terry Schnadelbach won the Philip N. Winslow award for best landscape design in 1991.

Within the vegetable plot there was an amazing amount of educational information anyone could wish for.


Care for soil, mulching, composting and the encouragement of beneficial predators, butterflies, birds, bees.

My observations from LA to New York opened my eyes to many examples of dedication to resilience, self-sufficiency, and sustainability?

Here are 8 “Stepping Stones To Sustainability” for those without land.

1. Think Sustainably “like a Permaculturist” Bill suggested reading all you can on climate change and observe Nature. Nature might not look like what we think it is?
2. Shop at Farmers Markets and like shops buying SLOW (Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wellness) Food.
3.  Shop using recycle bags and refuse unnecessary plastic packaging
4. When eating out, eat SLOW (Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wellness) Food
5. Recycle waste (sort organics from recyclables) its someone’s wealth
6. Consider sustainable transport options
7. Join a community garden, Permaculture group.
8. Tell your friends about the “Stepping Stones” you are walking on.

  I just wanted to show no mater how big a step or small you take towards a sustainable future it all matters and counts no matter where you live or how you live. There is no walls in this fight against climate change we are one world and we need to support each other not set up barriers or classifications to our involvement we just need to be involved some how.