Women have played an important role in pushing the permaculture movement forward – embracing the concepts incorporated by this design and using it to find their own voices. These women have made significant contributions within the world of permaculture design, promoting the concept around the world and encouraging alternative food movements far and wide. As teachers, speakers, consultants, writers, and designers, women can and do make a big difference in ensuring the message of permaculture is effectively communicated to broad audiences worldwide.
International Women’s Day offers an opportunity to explore and celebrate some of the contributions these women have made – recognizing the value of having individuals from all kinds of backgrounds working together to show the world the importance of sustainability, resilience, and permanent agriculture. Take some time to get to know these women and what they bring to the permaculture community.
1. Lisa Mollison
Lisa Mollison has followed her husband’s example and lives her life devoted to the permaculture philosophy that Bill Mollison co-designed with David Holmgren in the 1970s. Lisa is integral to Tagari and works hard day in and day out. Despite Bill’s death in 2016, Mollison hopes to see permaculture continue to grow – “as the world recognizes the urgent need to work together on environmental solutions.”
2. Rosemary Morrow
To Rosemary Morrow, permaculture is “sacred knowledge” to be carried and shared with others. Born in Perth, Morrow initially studied agricultural science, but ended up at Rowe’s Permaculture Design Course in the 1980s. Since then, Morrow has traveled to post-war Vietnam, Uganda, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and many other countries, teaching others about the principles of permaculture design.
3. Robyn Francis
Djanbung Gardens was designed and founded by permaculture pioneer, Robyn Francis, and is globally renowned as one of permaculture’s leading education and demonstration sites. The public programs are managed by Permaculture College Australia Inc, a non-profit organisation specialising in vocational training and community education in permaculture, earth stewardship and sustainable practices. Djanbung Gardens mission is to honor the wisdom of the Djanbung spirit by empowering people.
4. Michelle Avis
Along with her husband, Rob, Michelle Avis created Verge Permaculture – an award-winning design, consulting, and education company recognized around the world. Avis has a passion for growing nutrient-dense foods and creating resilient sustainable systems for homes, acreages, and farms, with the goal of ensuring that her works and actions “leave this world a better place for future generations to inherit.”
5. Karryn Olson-Ramanujan
Karryn Olson-Ramanujan’s multi-cultural family has inspired her dedication to supporting women and other “historically marginalized populations” find their voices as leaders. Throughout her life teaching permaculture, Olson-Ramanujan has also emerged as a proponent for developing the business side of permaculture – using strategically planned ecological designs to achieve a financial yield.
6. Lisa DePiano
Certified permaculture designer Lisa DePiano put her Master’s degree in Regional Planning to good use, co-founding the Montview Neighbourhood farm in the Connecticut River Valley. This human-powered farm and “edible forest garden” is part of DePiano’s larger vision for neighbourhood food production – where communities grow stronger as we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
7. Pandora Thomas
Co-founder of the Black Permaculture Network, Pandora Thomas is passionate about sustainable lifestyles. Thomas served as a teacher and director with the Pathways to Resilience programs, which uses permaculture and social entrepreneur training to help work with men and women returning home after incarceration, and works around the world as a caregiver, designer, speaker, writer, and teacher focusing on the value of applying ecological principles to social design.
* Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, there are many, many women doing great work advancing Permaculture.