Permaculture, Prayer & The Poor

Below is my ‘worksheet’ for a session I ran at God, Food, People in Long Gully, Bendigo with the Seeds Bendigo mob last week.  It was inspired in part by a workshop conducted by Earth Abbey at Greenbelt in 2009.  We started with an open sharing about how we understood permaculture which included a tour of the Hope… It Grows! Community Garden located around the old St. Matthews church property.

I then explained various thoughts about biblical ideas of prayer and  spirituality and  how such ideas may connect with the principles of perma-culture.  We then created space for people to think how using such principles may influence their own ‘spiritual ecology’.

Perma-culture, Prayer and The Poor

What is Perma-culture?

Some Key Principles: My Prayer Ecology – Spirituality

  • Watch and Pray
  • Stay Awake
  • Your Kingdom/ Economy Come…
  • Patterns, Relationships & Connections


  • Necessity & Satisfaction
  • What is the ‘purpose’ of prayer, spiritual practises, religious observance, church attendance…
  • Church and Economy: Church model as Corner Store vs. Mega Mall vs. Organic Vege Shop!

  • Body, Home, Household, Parish, Cosmos
  • Think Global/Cosmic , Act Local/Personal

Polyculture: Multi-Elements 

  • Genesis 11, Acts 2: Babel & Ecstasis
  • John 4 : Spirit and Truth
  • Mystic vs Incarnational, Word vs. Spirit Continuum.

Relative Location & Guilds 

  • Richard Fosters 6 Streams


  • By their fruits you shall know them
  • Food & Table spirituality
  • Mark 9:  Impotence vs. Exorcising Therapy


  • Manna:  Sabbath Memory and Bread of the Presence
  • Give us this Day Our Daily Bread
  • Forgive us our Debts

Increased Edges: 

  • Matthew 25
  • Galilee vs. Jerusalem, Wilderness vs. Temple, Jesus at the Water’s Edge
  • Wendell Berry Quote

Natural Succession:  

  • Change and Impermanence
  • Christian Spirituality & Apocalyptic
  • Watch & Pray, Be not Afraid, Don’t Worry,  Pioneers and Settlers

Question: Is our ultimate hope ‘Garden of Eden’ ala Anarcho-Primitivists OR is the  ‘New Jerusalem’ a Post Carbon, Transition Town?

Manna for Mission:

David Holmgren’s Principles:

1. Observe and interact

2. Capture & store energy

3. Get a yield

4. Apply self-regulation & accept feedback

5. Use & value renewable resources & services

6. Produce no waste

7. Design from patterns to details

8. Integrate rather than segregate

9. Use small and slow solutions

10. Use and value diversity

11. Use edges and value the marginal

12. Creatively use and respond to change

Bill Mollison’s Principles:

1. Relative Location: Components placed in a system are viewed relatively, not in isolation.

2. Functional Relationship between components: Everything is connected to everything else.

3. Recognize functional relationships between elements: Every function is supported by many elements.

4. Redundancy: Good design ensures that all important functions can withstand the failure of one

5.Many Functions: Each element we include is a system, chosen and placed so that it performs as many functions as possible.

6. Local Focus: “Think globally – Act locally” Grow your own food, cooperate with neighbors. Community efficiency not self-sufficiency.

7. Diversity: As a general rule, as sustainable systems mature they become increasingly diverse in both space and time. What is important is the complexity of the functional relationships that exist between elements not the number of elements.

8. Use Biological Resources: We know living things reproduce and build up their availability over time, assisted by their interaction with other compatible elements. Use and reserve biological intelligence.

9. One Calorie In/One Calorie Out: Do not consume or export more biomass than carbon fixed by the solar budget.

10. Stocking: Finding the balance of various elements to keep one from overpowering another over time. How much of an element needs to be produced in order to fulfill the need of whole system?

11. Stacking: Multilevel functions for single element (stacking functions). Multilevel garden design, i.e., trellising, forest garden, vines, groundcovers, etc.

12. Succession: Recognize that certain elements prepare the way for systems to support other elements in the future, i.e.: succession planting.

13. Onsite Resources: Determine what resources are available and entering the system on their own and maximize their use.

14. Edge Effect: Ecotones are the most diverse and fertile area in a system. Two ecosystems come together to form a third which has more diversity than either of the other two, i.e.: edges of ponds, forests, meadows, currents etc.

15. Energy Recycling: Yields from system designed to supply onsite needs and/or needs of local region.

16. Small Scale: Intensive Systems start small and create a system that is manageable and produces a high yield.

17. Make Least Change for the Greatest Effect: The less change that is generated, the less embedded energy is used to endow the system.

18. Planting Strategy: 1st-natives, 2nd-proven exotics, 3rd unproven exotics – carefully on small scale with lots of observation.

19. Work Within Nature: Aiding the natural cycles results in higher yield and less work. A little support goes a long way.

20. Appropriate Technology: The same principles apply to cooking, lighting, transportation, heating, sewage treatment, water and other utilities.

21. Law of Return: Whatever we take, we must return Every object must responsibly provide for its replacement.

22. Stress and Harmony: Stress here may be defined as either prevention of natural function, or of forced function. Harmony may be defined as the integration of chosen and natural functions, and the easy supply of essential needs.

23. The Problem is the solution: We are the problem, we are the solution. Turn constraints into resources. Mistakes are tools for learning.

24. The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited: The only limit on the number of uses of a resource possible is the limit of information and imagination of designer.

25. Dispersal of Yield Over Time: Principal of seven generations. We can use energy to construct these systems, providing that in their lifetime, they store or conserve more energy that we use to construct them or to maintain them.

26. A Policy of Responsibility (to relinquish power): The role of successful design is to create a self-managed system.

27. Principle of Disorder: Order and harmony produce energy for other uses. Disorder consumes energy to no useful end. Tidiness is maintained disorder. Chaos has form, but is not predictable. The amplification of small fluctuations.

28. Entropy: In complex systems, disorder is an increasing result. Entropy and life-force are a stable pair that maintain the universe to infinity.

29. Metastability: For a complex system to remain stable, there must be small pockets of disorder.

30. Entelechy: Principal of genetic intelligence. i.e. The rose has thorns to protect itself.

31. Observation: Protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor.

32. Abundance: We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities.

33. Wait one year: (See #31, above)

34. Hold water and fertility high: As high (in elevation) on the landscape as possible. Its all downhill from there…


2 Replies to “Permaculture, Prayer & The Poor”

  1. Hey Colin, good to meet you online. It would seem we have some similar interests though far apart!

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