For those unfamiliar with permaculture, you could be forgiven for believing that it is synonymous with gardening. However, this is a belief that permaculture pro Damien Bohler debunks immediately during our interview. He elaborates, “It is an intelligent design system, not just gardening. As we start to understand it, we can see that it relates to everything, making us able to interact with our habitat in a more creative way.”
Damien’s permaculture journey has been an ongoing one, developing slowly over the past couple of decades. He reminisces how on a break from uni life, “I stayed with my cousin in the Pyrenees mountains, and something in me changed...they lived in a tiny hut, there were some gardens around and this really quiet village life. It opened up to me the possibility of a different way of living.”
Food for thought
After finishing his travels, Damien found that his desire to study engineering had diminished and he took six months off, taking time to study environmental biology. The course prompted a lot of life changing realisations, in particular the assignment ‘What’s in the food we eat?’. “It hit me: I am – literally – made up of the food I eat. I’d never thought of that before”. As a result, he started to do more investigating and came across permaculture, realising it is “a piece of a bigger picture I’m interested in – how can we, as humans, live a more harmonious, loving life?”
It was around this period that Damien spent some time living in northern Thailand in a simply structured wooden hut with no electricity. Here he acknowledged “I want to live like that.” He remembers, “I tried to grow some food there but I didn’t know what I was doing. I was in my twenties and had never harvested my own food before.” This revelation, alongside those prompted during his studies, inspired Damien to complete a permaculture course in Thailand, followed by years of more study and work in the field.
Accessible to All
Damien’s passion for all things permaculture and changing the world is obvious, and after years of study in the natural science fields he has a wealth of knowledge on the subject. Speaking to him, and coming from a big city life background, I’m still pretty much in the dark about weeding, let alone implementing my own garden system. I wonder if people like me can take part in the course. Damien reassures me that no previous experience or knowledge is required, just an open and curious nature and willingness to learn. You also don’t necessarily have to have a huge back yard or plot of land - there are lots of ways for city dwellers to get involved, too. Damien explains, “It absolutely can translate to a home system. And if you don’t have land right now, maybe there’s a community garden available nearby, or maybe you can do some guerrilla gardening, planting gardens on abandoned plots of land and in nature strips.”
Cultivating Collective Consciousness
The main aim of the course is to encourage people to go out into their community and start making change, designing and implementing permaculture system for themselves and others. On completion of the course, participants are also qualified to teach, Damien encouraging “I want to empower people to start and run little workshops, if that’s something they are interested in”. Like the ripples in a pond, Damien believes we can all contribute to helping develop the level of consciousness in the world through more awareness around where our food comes from. Damien acknowledges, “We don’t necessarily all have to be gardeners either. What’s important is to interact with the system that sustains us in some way, with our hands. Some people are inclined in clothes making with natural fibres, others in working with preserving foods or herbal medicines... we can’t all be gardeners, but we can all interact with a garden some way.”
The first permaculture design course starts at Krishna Village on the 17th April, find out more on our Permaculture Info Page.