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‘You started a quiet revolution’: Tributes flow for permaculture ‘father’ Bill Mollison


Tributes are flowing from around the world for the Tasmanian man who co-founded the global permaculture movement.

Bruce Charles “Bill” Mollison — known as the “father of permaculture” — died on Saturday in Hobart, aged 88.

His system advocated agricultural ecosystems that were sustainable and self-sufficient.

Mr Mollison rose to prominence after publishing Permaculture One with David Holmgren in 1974.

The book advocated a system “working with, rather than against nature” when producing food, and favoured cultivating species suited for local conditions.

He founded the Permaculture Institute in 1978, his ideas influencing hundreds of thousands students worldwide.

Well-known horticulturalist and former ABC Gardening Australia host Peter Cundall described permaculture as “an all-encompassing method of actually living without in anyway disrupting the environment”.

“It was the way of the future, and this is why it became so exciting,” he said.

“The greatest contribution Bill made was as an outstanding marketer and a brilliant public speaker.

“So he not only toured different parts of Australia, but then went overseas and went to Africa, India and other places.”

Mr Cundall said the biologist helped grow Tasmania’s reputation as the birthplace of the environmental movement.

“Tasmania is in many ways unique because it started this whole business of trying to live within our environment without destroying it,” he said.

Mollison unlike any other academic: co-author

Mr Holmgren lived and worked with Mr Mollison as they were writing Permaculture One.

He told 936 ABC Hobart Mr Mollison was unlike any other academic at the University of Tasmania, and it was his “ecological thinking” that struck the young student.

Mr Holmgren said there was a lot of interest in what the pair were doing in the late 1970s.

“It was also a time with a huge interest in what we would call sustainability today,” he said.

“There were six mainstream publishers who approached a rambunctious Tasmanian academic and a completely unknown graduate student wanting to publish Permaculture One in 1977.

“Bill was actually really the father of the permaculture movement because of his genius in setting up the teaching system that he described and it all being outside academia.”

Mr Holmgren said he would be remembering Mollison at the Australasian Permaculture Convergence in Perth in next week.

“It will be a huge point of reflection and a celebration of his contribution,” he said.

‘You started a quiet revolution’

Social media has been flooded with tributes, and a page “In Memory of Bill Mollison” has been created on Facebook.

“May his words and teachings of permaculture continue to spread like chickweed in our gardens,” read a post on the Facebook page Women Who Farm.

“Thank you Bill for providing humanity with an education that no other leader has been able to achieve. RIP,” Glenn Shannon Kett wrote.

“You started a quiet revolution. You have sown the seeds of change, and you will live in the bounties of nature, in every flower, in every tree, in the soil and the water, and in every hand that nurtures nature,” wrote Vani Bahl, a Facebook user from California.

The author won numerous awards for his work and was also the first foreigner invited and admitted to the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Mr Mollison was born in Stanley in 1928 in Tasmania’s north-west, and left school aged 15 to work in a number of jobs, including as a shark fisherman, seaman, forester and mill worker.

He spent his final years at Sisters Beach on the state’s north-west coast.

On – 26 Sep, 2016 By Ted O’Connor

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