Permaculture recognised

Rosemary Morrow thought long and hard about whether to accept her medal of the Order of Australia.

In her world, thriving groups and strong communities are more valuable than a few individuals who might win awards.

But she weighed her reluctance up against the profile the award would give to permaculture and, in the end, the boost to her life-long passion won out.

Rosemary "Rowe" Morrow OAM: Under the thriving grape vine in her Katoomba backyard.

Rosemary "Rowe" Morrow OAM: Under the thriving grape vine in her Katoomba backyard.

Ms Morrow, OAM for services to permaculture, has been spreading the word about the ecology-based movement for almost 40 years.

It started after a visit to Africa decades ago. She was an agricultural scientist but saw that large-scale agriculture was not going to help feed the population.

She returned to Australia and looked for a better way, finding it in permaculture.

Since then she has taught it to thousands of people, both in Australia and overseas, including in Vietnam after the war, Cambodia after Pol Pot and East Timor after the Indonesian occupation.

She has taught farmers and villagers in Uganda, Ethiopia and Kurdistan and in more recent times worked with communities, including refugees, in Afghanistan, India, Bali and Italy.

Permaculture was created in Australia in the early 1970s and defined the problems of today, said Ms Morrow: Climate change and diminishing resources due to overuse and unethical economies.

"It provides a web of inter-related principles, strategies and techniques to restore societies and landscapes, and avoid the problems. Practitioners, of whom there are many in the Mountains, were far-sighted pioneers implementing this framework," she said.

"Today they are relatively buffered against many disasters. And meanwhile permaculture is probably the world'd greatest people's movement while being embraced from every place and people - Paris to Paraguay across Earth. This award celebrates this movement. It is perhaps Australia's greatest export."

Ms Morrow has also written books on the subject, including The Earth User's Guide to Permaculture,Earth Users' Guide to Teaching Permaculture and Permaculture Teaching Matters.