Permaculture designers Mark Garrett and actress Daryl Hanna, Soneva Fushi, Maldives
Meeting Mark Garrett
I can always recall the moment I first meet someone, the impression they made.
But not Mark Garrett.
How many years since I met him? I just can’t say.
He’s one of those understated people, always chipping away at things in the background, just merging into the background of the Permaculture world like a blue heeler dog on a bluestone verandah.
He’s offline, immersed in real-world things: thinking up water systems, building soil, digging swales with his workers.
Then he leaves it all to go for a surf, a walkabout, then onto the next gig.
Blue Heeler rest. Work hard, play hard.
Blue Heeler rest. Work hard, play hard.
Every now and then a message or call would arrive, sometimes with a request for ideas, in that soft Queensland drawl you can hear even in his writing.
“Hi Cecilia. Want to help me with a project I’ve got going?”
Somehow, maybe because he’s got a knack for inspiring trust, the garden projects he takes on become more and more spectacular.
So do his customers.
Mark Garrett at work, Green School Bali
His Skype calls generally have a pretty good backdrop: Maldives, Bali, Private islands owned by rock stars. Actual rock stars, as one customer would pass him on to the next.
As if he’s asking me down to the pub for a cold one, he’d come up with things like this:
“Hey Cecilia. I’m on my way to Necker Island. Richard liked my presso, now he wants a design. Can you put in a quote to draw it up?”
Richard Branson getting some Mark Garrett composting inspiration, Maldives
Meeting Richard Branson
Richard Branson. Oh my! I love that man, and he already knows me. Now’s my chance to impress Mark.
“Mark! I know Richard Branson. Yes, I met him in the days he used to hang out in Tokyo. We hung out and he teased me about Permaculture, way back 13 years ago.”
"Ah, cool” says Mark, taking it all in his stride.
“Can I tag along to Necker Island?”
“Nah”, says Mark. “It’s just me for now".
Nice try Cecilia.
Over a few Skype calls from various glamor locations we drew up a self-maintaining design that would process the island’s waste, capture water, and supplement the imported food for sixty or so staff and guests.
Concept map detail: Casurina windbreak, Coconut and Papaya circles
Richard Branson is already a whole-systems thinker, he knows how to turn unvalued things into valued things, how to build a business like an ecosystem, and how to sustain it all over time. When you’ve done so well in life and just want to leave a better world, what’s next?
Mark met Richard Branson in the Maldives, at the Slow Life Symposium at the Soneva Fushi Resort, where Mark was putting in Permaculture systems.
Mark, what makes you Special?
That’s what I asked him one day.
“Well, I never thought about it”, he says. But this is what he came up with:
I explain Permaculture in simple terms. Everyone can understand it.
I don’t just impose a design on what’s there. I look around me, see what resources are lying around, and work out how to use them.
I can see the client’s vision as they speak. I just make real what I see, and it turns out to be what they wanted. Plus more.
Mark Garrett’s Permaculture Keyhole Garden, Green School
Banana circle, with water sink, gathering nutrients
Tool shed, with water harvesting roof, tank & fish ponds.
The Waste to Wealth Center composts food & garden waste
Green roof keeps temperatures down, clever leaf catching protects water supply
Chickens clean up fallen fruit and pests
Passionfruit vines hide fence, give fruit and flowers
Concept map detail: central keyhole garden and orchard
I chose colors to match Richard’s home.
Build on what’s already familiar.
Richard Branson’s Necker Island home
With his long island-permaculture experience, Mark knows what works well and what will not. Here is the Sea-grape he chose to cover the cyclone fences, a salt-and-wind resistant climber from the buckwheat family. I’d never heard of it, and had to do a Google image search to find out how it looks.
Here it is, stylised and climbing up the fence. In my version it’s a staggered bamboo-grown fence. We can always suggest a better life.
A hard day at the office
As permaculture designers, Mark and I have offices wherever we set up our laptop. It’s a nice life for people who require freedom to operate well, as we go about trying, testing, questioning, and coming up with answers nobody else thought of yet.
Permaculture is a design system for solving those intractable; those wicked kind of problems. Everyone in the world has problems, a rich supply of them. This means us Permaculture designers can range far and wide, as we search for more people to help, land to make productive, more homes to make user-friendly — more sustainable families, connected by choice and affection.
Design meeting, from Mark at Green School to myself in Sydney. Skype
Get Your Permaculture Design Certificate, Bali
Starting 24th August 2014 Mark Garrett will be running an 11-day full Permaculture Design course, with practical site visits to culture-creating places such as Bali’s Green School.
You are invited.
One of many good things about this course is the guest presenter from Australia: Cecilia Macaulay. Yes, me. Permaculture for Creative Life Design is my special niche, showing participants how to use design-power, rather than willpower and effort, for a force-free, generative daily life.
If you think it might be just what you need right now, please send any questions to myself or Mark cecilia.macaulay (at) gmail.com
Mark Garratt with John Hardy of Green School Bali
Cecilia’s Creative Life Design Workshops, Sydney
I will also be leading Creative Life Design one-day Workshops in Sydney, from October.
We learn how to apply Permaculture design — Zones, Edge-Effect, the lot — to your kitchen sink, your communication, your clutter and your aspirations.
All problems can be Design Problems — puzzles to be cleverly solved. Otherwise they aren’t problems, just situations, so relax into it.
Contemplate the future with Cecilia Macaulay