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David Holmgren: “Small and Slow Solutions – Permaculture Design”

November 1, 2023

(Conversation recorded on October 9th, 2023)

Show Summary

On this episode, Nate is joined by ‘permaculture’ author and educator David Holmgren to discuss his experience within the movement and what it might look like for more systems to be designed using permaculture in the future. While often thought to be an agricultural tool, permaculture thinking is meant for designing human systems to be embedded in nature – an important principle for a future where societies will need to re-synchronize with natural flows. What does it mean for permaculture design to ‘scale up’, and how is it different from how we usually think about growing a system? How will permaculture design change as we move through different phases of resource availability? More importantly, how can the ‘small and slow’ foundation of permaculture help human societies adapt to a lower throughput future as we navigate The Great Simplification?

About David Holmgren 

David Holmgren is best known as the co-originator of permaculture. In 1978, he and Bill Mollison published Permaculture One, starting the global permaculture movement. Since then, David has developed three properties, consulted and supervised on urban and rural projects, written eight more books, and presented lectures, workshops and courses in Australia and around the world. His writings over those three decades span a diversity of subjects and issues, whilst always illuminating aspects of permaculture thinking and living.

Holmgren Design would like to offer a discount on RetroSuburbia to The Great Simplification listeners. Get a 20% discount on RetroSuburbia plus a free copy of Our Street for the month of November by using code: Nate at this link: http://retrosuburbia.com/nate

Show Notes & Links to Learn More

00:00 – David Holmgren Works + Info

02:09 – Bill Mollison, Permaculture One

03:42 – Regenerative Agriculture, Resilience in Agriculture

07:42 – P.A. Yeomans

09:45 – Unproductive crop land converted back to pasture land

10:33 – Regrowth of forests due to fossil fuel energy surplus

11:40 – Howard T. Odum, Environment, Power, and Society

12:14 – Club of Rome, Limits to Growth Report, E.F. Schumacher Small is Beautiful

12:38 – Edward Goldsmith

14:20 – Maximum Power Principle

15:03 – Embodied Energy

20:18 – Thatcher-Reagan politics of the 80s

21:43 – Yom Kippur War, Oil crises

26:40 – John Michael Greer

35:45 – RetroSuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future | permaculture-design

40:37 – Historic population of Saudi Arabia

43:55 – Stainless steel is an infinitely reusable material

44:55 – Bullshit Jobs

45:52 – ‘Weeds’ and land rehabilitation

46:52 – Exotic Vigor and European colonization

47:33 – Australian Eucalypt, use in Ethiopia

49:46 – Andrew Millison, Vandana Shiva

50:21 – 700% more mammalian biomass than 10,000 years ago

52:13 – Haber-Bosch, half the nitrogen in the human body can be traced back to Haber Bosch

52:27 – Nitrogen Fixation

53:41 – Sharon Astyk, Nation of Farmers

55:39 – Phosphate binding in soil, microbes making it bioavailable

56:37 – Blue-green algal blooms from fertilization and organic matter run-off

58:05 – Topsoil Depletion

58:45 – Planet Soil

59:01 – Food Forests

1:00:28 – Kookaburras

1:02:35 – Dictator Dave’s National Water Policy

1:06:10 – Good quality timber comes from slowly grown trees

1:06:22 – Rapid growth animal agriculture leads to more disease and shorter lives

1:06:32 – Dan Palmer, Living Design Process

1:10:12 – Roots of permaculture in indigenous culture and practices

1:11:39 – Bioneers

1:12:31 – David Suzuki

1:15:47 – Globalization, relocalization

1:16:34 – Putin, Chavez, resource nationalism

1:17:51 – Australia vulnerability to extreme climate change

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens is the Director of The Institute for the Study of Energy & Our Future (ISEOF) an organization focused on educating and preparing society for the coming cultural transition. Allied with leading ecologists, energy experts, politicians and systems thinkers ISEOF assembles road-maps and off-ramps for how human societies can adapt to lower throughput lifestyles. Nate holds a Masters Degree in Finance with Honors from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He teaches an Honors course, Reality 101, at the University of Minnesota.