What is Permaculture? Interview with Rico Zook, Permaculture Designer & Teacher

Permaculture Design Course in Goa

Updated June 27th, 2018.

Last month, we took a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) in Arambol, Goa, India with well-known Permaculture designer and teacher, Rico Zook, of Itinerant Permaculture. 

During the course we learnt many things, one of them, something that you think we should have known before taking the course in the first place – what permaculture actually is!

In this interview with Rico Zook you will find out more about Permaculture, learn how to stay green on the road & what to do to avoid Armageddon!

Permaculture is Much More than we Imagined…

One day, when we grow tired of all this backpacking lark (10 years and it’s not happened yet), we hope to put the rucksack down, find a sunny patch of land and attempt to grow our own fruits, vegetables and herbs, maybe have a couple of chickens, or even goats. 

We took the permaculture course in Goa with this dream in mind, thinking that we’d learn what vegetables to plant specific times of year, how many times a day to water your tomatoes and when to feed Billy.

However, what we discovered is that permaculture is much, much more than just gardening advice. Permaculture is an entire design system that can be applied to almost anything, a piece of land, a business, even your own life!

A Revolution Disguised as Organic Gardening

Permaculture was created in 1960s by two Australian guys, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren (the word “permaculture” came into existence in 1978, but their work started far earlier). Since then, the concept has developed a life of its own with people really seeing the true potential of what an ethically based design system could hold.

Permaculture is guided by three principles:

  1. Care for Earth
  2. Care for people
  3. Fair share

Can you imagine if businesses and governments had to abide by these three permaculture ethics?

Huge corporations would no longer be able to open sweatshops in Bangladesh in order to make their clothes cheaper in an attempt to increase profits. Mobile phone companies wouldn’t be able to turn a blind eye to the kids mining for coltan in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. We’d leave the rainforests alone and stop polluting the seas for future generations.

So you see, permaculture is much more than just plant guilds and compost toilets. As Bill Mollison said ‘permaculture is a revolution disguised as organic gardening’.

Permaculture Design Course with Rico Zook in Arambol, Goa, India.
Student Susie Boyle starting the revolution!

Are you thinking of taking a Permaculture Design Course (PDC)?

If you’ve always thought that Permaculture is just for the hippies and that you have to start drinking your own wee, wearing hemp and doing Reiki in order to take a Permaculture course, then think again! (Although Rico did make me pick up cow dung at one point.)  On a PDC you’ll learn life-changing practical advice that will stand you in good stead forever, whether you want to own a piece of land, start a business or work within your local community.

Permaculture Design Course with Rico Zook in Arambol, Goa, India.
Students on the PDC in Goa March 2017.

Thank you Rico, for allowing us to take part in this course in Arambol in March 2017 and for everything that you taught us. 

Rico Zook runs course all over the world, so if you want to be a part of the revolution then check out his website Itinerant Permaculture here. He will also be teaching a PDC at the International Permaculture Convergence in India in November 2017, as well as a PDC Teacher Training Course, the first of its kind in Asia. 

Find out more about Permaculture Courses here.

About Rico Zook and Itinerant Permaculture

At the moment, we’re working with leading Permaculture designer, consultant and educator, Rico Zook, from the Itinerant Permaculture, who has over 20 years experience working in different climates and with different cultures all over the world.

When he isn’t in his home base of Darjeeling in northern India, Rico travels for most of the year, teaching PDCs and offering workshops to individuals, NGOs, farmers villages and local organisations as well as being one of the main creators of the International Permaculture Convergence.

He has also worked with many indigenous cultures to help them to preserve important traditions, whist using modern technology to adapt to the rapidly globalising world.

With degrees in Environmental Studies, Biology and Philosophy, as well as being a founding member of Permaculture Design International (PDI), Rico has been involved in a variety of projects, from being land manager for the Lama Foundation, a spiritual community and retreat centre North of Taos, New Mexico, to conducting trainings for Khmer farmers in Cambodia, to building a university, a healing centre, a children’s camp, and a wetlands construction for wildlife in South India! If you’re interested in taking a Permaculture Design Course with Rico Zook and absorbing some of his deep knowledge about Permaculture, check out his website for updates to his schedule: I-PERMACULTURE.

By Nikki Scott

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