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June 18, 2021

A new gathering for permaculture

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Geoff Layton, permaculture expert.

Permaculture Research Institute’s new Byron group

Did you know that permaculture extends far beyond the growing of vegetables? I confess that I didn’t.

‘Gardening is only one part; permaculture is a whole design system for living,’ says Geoff Lawton, a man who not only knows this but lives it every day and teaches others. ‘Permaculture includes house design, waste systems, animal systems, water systems and local economies.’

Geoff, a world-renowned permaculture expert, is bringing his knowledge to Byron Bay, starting a new permaculture group that will meet on the first Wednesday evening of every month.

Everyone is welcome – from those with zero knowledge to those with extensive experience of permaculture.

‘The aim is to help people understand how we can use permaculture to meet their basic needs,’ says Geoff. The group will be modelled on successful similar groups elsewhere, including Permaculture Noosa, a group that has been meeting for 23 years and sees up to 100 people attend gatherings each month.

‘We’ll set up permablitzes for hands-on help in setting up gardens and we’ll have a speaker each month,’ explains Geoff. ‘We’ll also feature a plant of the month and an activity of the month.’ Longer terms include a Byron-region-specific recipe book where every single ingredient is potentially available in local gardens.

Geoff’s motivation to start the group is a lovely meeting of the personal and community. ‘I’m 63 this year and am starting to slow down, so I am delegating more of my international consultation work,’ explains Geoff, who lives on Zaytuna Farm, an exemplar permaculture farm in The Channon.

‘I’m a surfer so I come to Byron a bit. I use the wonderful resources that Byron offers, so I want to give something back. One of my loves is to set up permaculture groups. I’ve done it all over the world and now I want to do it in Byron.’

Byron already has a strong presence on the permaculture map, in great part owing to Byron Community College, which offers a suite of courses including the country’s only government-funded nationally accredited Certificates III and IV in Permaculture. ‘The course that started a few weeks ago is full,’ says Richard Vinycomb, the college’s director. ‘After a year these students will have in-depth knowledge and employable skills.’ When asked about the new group, Richard was supportive. ‘We are happy to see a range of other learning offerings – the more people understanding permaculture principles, the better.’

The word permaculture is a portmanteau of ‘permanent agriculture’ and ‘permanent culture’, first coined by Bill Morrison, a pioneer of the practice who worked with Geoff before his death in 2016. Whether you knew this already, or know little but are interested in finding out more, head along to Marvell Hall next Wednesday evening.

Byron Bay permaculture group – starting Wed 7 March 7.30pm, then the 1st Wed of each month). Marvell Hall, Marvell Street, Byron Bay.

No cost, no need to RSVP/book. All levels of knowledge and experience welcome.
Enquiries to Geoff Lawton: 0427 862 902.
More info about permaculture: permaculturenews.org or

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