Stefan Sobkowiak – Beyond Organic

This two hour interview makes for an important addition to the knowledge shared in the Permaculture Orchard film. In it Stefan talks about the next piece of the puzzle, soon to be released from Miracle Farm.

The podcast which has just come online, would have gone longer if Stefan hadn’t excused himself to join a scheduled conversation with John Allan of APW and myself. We needed to talk about the Masterclass Stefan will be leading at Unitec Auckland next year, as part of the Beyond Organic NZ Tour.

Stefan looking seriousFor New Zealanders the survivalist concepts that are promoted in the lead-in may seem foreign, and you can of course skip them and jump to 8m:40sec, or you may wind up asking, what’s happening in the USA? What’s being expressed there is an expression of people responding to the increasing uncertainty and rapid change that is underway across the world – we’re just each experiencing it differently.

Now, onto the interview on The Survival Podcast with Jack Spirko.

Up front we hear about Stefan’s background and having a Masters degree in both Biology and Landscape design, before learning what got him inspired to set up a Permaculture Orchard. We find a man with a deep desire to maximise the positive impact he can have on the world around him, and as the minutes turn into hours, we start to appreciate the gifts he’s offering.


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Transitioning to sustainable and regenerative food production

Enormous opportunities are opening up as we transition from an unsustainable industrial food production and distribution model, to one that regenerates the very soil and land that supports life.

Thankfully and not before time, this topic is receiving increasing amounts of attention.

A rising chorus is now coming from UN agencies on how food security, poverty, gender inequality and climate change can all be addressed by a radical transformation of our agriculture and food system.

Here in New Zealand we’re playing our part.

Food Forest Design course

The application window is still open for the first intake of the Food Forest Design course. On Feb 17th the fun begins when a small group of keen learners meet at Koanga Gardens in Hawkes Bay with James Samuel, Jon Foote and Kay Baxter, to begin the first block course of the inaugural Food Forest Design course.

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Beyond agriculture – the myths and the alternatives

Agriculture was the great leap forward for humanity, or so we’ve been told. but is it true? Toby Hemenway, in this compelling talk Redesigning Civilisation – with Permaculture, lays out a different picture and dispels the myths of agriculture as the great liberator from a life we are told was brutish and short.

At this point I feel compelled to assure you, this is not a casual criticism of agriculture or farmers. I have been one and I hold a deep respect for that culture, so if you are reading this article and have a background in rural activities, thank you for reading this far, and I welcome you to take this journey of discovery with me.

The essence of agriculture, which the origin of the word points to, is the cutting of trees to make way for open fields – to then grow large areas of a small number crops, or grass for animals. Given this suggestion the term sustainable agriculture, must surely be an oxymoron, as there are few if any areas of the earth where agriculture has been practiced for long periods of time, which do not show signs of degradation and loss of soil, water and human health. The origins of this open field approach can be traced back to thefertile crescent‘ in the Middle East - where years of grain agriculture has turned the land to desert and the soil to salt-laden sand.

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Are Food Forests mainstreaming

Last year I was teaching social media to a group of Graduate students at The Centre for Sustainable Practice, one of the Otago Polytechnic schools, based in Wanaka. That's where I met Andy Cambeis, who's major project was to establish a food forest on public land in Hawea Flat. What I didn't realise until the end of the year, was that he was documenting the process in a way that others could benefit from.

When I read the first draft of his "Manual for creating a Food Forest on Public Land" I was delighted and excited. Here was a paint-by-numbers process, written in a beautifully summary form, with links to every detail one could possibly want, and all very relevant to the New Zealand situation. I knew this was my project for 2013 - to establish the first public access Waiheke Food Forest.

But what's been happening in the last few weeks has been quite astounding... beginning two weeks ago, as I prepared for presenting our Waiheke Food Forest project to the Waiheke Local Board, I learnt of three new Food Forest projects across Aotearoa, and this was a hint that there was some real movement in this space.

Four days later I received a persistant phone call – on the third ring I finally answered it, and I'm glad I did. A polite and well spoken man was wanting to know if I was using, because if not he wanted it.

I was clear that I wasn't about to hand this over but suggested we meet. Over a coffee two days later, as we shared our stories, it was clear, we both saw Aotearoa abundant with forests of food. This proud Manawatu farmer shared his vision of 10 acre food forests, up and down the country, in those highly visible locations some farms are blessed with. We’ll be meeting up again soon – with time to flesh out some details and explore possibilities.

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National Permaculture Hui 2013 - seeking workshop presenters


The 2013 National Permaculture Hui will be held in Taranaki on March 9-11.

The kaupapa or theme of the hui is "Upskilling", with an emphasis on practical workshops, Matauranga Maori, connecting, and sharing.


Have you got a skill or knowledge to share?

Can you help develop the capacity of people and communities to live sustainably?

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For Sale. Ideal Property to develop your Permaculture dream in Oratia, Waitakere Ranges


Two permitted dwellings on just over 2.5 north facing acres. Plenty of water.  There is also an enormous barn big enough to convert to Wwoofer accommodation but still provide a very large workshop. » Read more

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Designers for a resilient future converge on Turangi..

The 11th Australasian Permaculture Convergence, April 11 – 15th, will see more than 500 people involved in planning, designing and creating a resilient future. With peak oil, climate change and an unsustainable monetary system impacting us from all directions this event comes at a time when we need it most. » Read more

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Return to Aotearoa: Writer / Naturalist / Retreat Center Leader / Permaculture Landscape Designer seeks Nature Sanctuary

Kia ora!

It seems strange to write this as a blog, yet makes sense in many ways.

I am seeking a lovely, peaceful home sanctuary that I can housesit, caretake, manage or oversee for a family, a couple or an individual. I am a peaceful, gentle soul with abundant vitality for co-creating sacred sanctuary retreats, either as part of an eco-village, or transition town community. » Read more

Eleventh Australasian Permaculture Convergence 11-15th April 2012 in Turangi

Experienced practitioners, Inspiring speakers, Practical ideas,  Excellent networking, Whole systems and small details, Diverse participants, Cultural exchange, Transition examples, Hands-on workshops..... and more.

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