Permaculture for Kids

Editor’s Note: Please welcome new contributing writer, Paul Douglas of Victoria, Australia!

During my two week immersion into permaculture design, Bill Mollison was asked by a student, "How do we go about teaching permaculture to our children?” to which Bill replied something along the lines of, “I don’t believe we should be teaching Permaculture to children. They already have enough on their plates in terms of responsibilities and such, so we shouldn’t overburden them with yet another subject.”

True enough, if you take permaculture as the full 72-hour course that we adults tend towards. But I approach the idea that teaching children permaculture is vitally important to the sustainability of life itself and needs to be taught to youths so that by the time they are adults, permaculture is no longer a subject, but a way of life that is as natural as breathing.

But how would we go about uploading The Permaculture Designers Manual into the minds of our youths without overburdening their grey matter? Exactly the same way that farmers (1) are learning Permaculture – a bit at a time, with small bite sized chunks of drip fed information, with an emphasis on tacit learning. My son’s school has done their part in this by going for the low hanging fruit, the easy beginners’ steps of sustainability;

  • Rainwater tanks all over the place, so many of them I lost count and the larger ones are connected to the subsurface irrigation system on the sports field. No swales though…
  • Vegetable gardens for the children to learn about where food actually comes from and how to grow it. Other schools have taken this step even further with a Kitchen Garden Program
  • Teaching about biodiversity; what it means, why it’s important, and how can we go about achieving it in our area? The NSW Government has provided fantastic teaching resources for this subject. They are covering subjects such as; the web of life, habitats and homes, ecosystems, vertebrates, invertebrates, food chains and webs and vertical layers of habitats.

Now these simple elements are not Permaculture as such, but they are a fantastic place to start and they will sow the seed within their generation for them to make the necessary changes for a sustainable planet.

I should probably point out that that my son is not at high school. He is only 7 and has already begun walking the path to sustainability. If he and his class mates can do it, then there is hope for us all.


  1. You would simply be amazed how well farmers are warming to elements of Permaculture. More on that next time.

Further Reading/Watching: