In Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E06)

In this episode Dan Palmer from Making Permaculture Stronger enjoys a high-energy, cut to the chase dialogue with Dave Jacke from Edible Forest Gardens. Dave and Dan explore:

  • Dave’s 38+ year journey with design process and permaculture including:
    • his first design project at Simon’s Rock College
    • his initial contact with permaculture and then Bill Mollison
    • his initial contact with the writings of Christopher Alexander (especially Alexander’s 1964 book Notes on the Synthesis of Form)
    • his experience studying at the Conway School of Landscape Design
    • his relationship to permaculture
    • his ecological design process
  • Permaculture’s design process enigma (has a lot to say about ecological design but not a lot to say about ecological design process)
  • The relation between the designer, the designing, and the designed
  • Problems with the expert/hero approach to design
  • The relation between rationality and feeling/emotion inside ecological design process
  • So much else…

Dave Jacke’s work has been referenced many times in previous posts, and was the sole focus of this one.

We really hope you enjoy the episode, which is feeling like beginning of a longer conversation, and please do leave a comment sharing any feedback or reflections below…

Dave doing site analysis at Yandoit Farm, Victoria, Australia, 2016


  1. Hey Dan,

    I’m really enjoying your podcasts.

    I’m new to permaculture, I’ve watched a bit of Bill Mollisons course on YouTube, read a bit of Gaias garden by Toby hemenway, and listened to some podcasts.

    I’m interested in permaculture design as I want to be able to build sustainable systems on land and also apply it other things like community and even product development.

    If you were taking an 80/20 approach to learning permaculture ( ie the 20% of things that give you 80% of the results) what would suggest?

    From what I can gather it would be broken up into principles and process.

    Principles being
    – David holmgrens revised book principals sustainability
    – Christopher Alexander’s book – ‘a timeless way of building’

    Process being
    – a permaculture design course that runs through the process.
    – observation sounds like a big area to focus on.

    Any info from anyone would be great.

    Keep up the great work.


    Fitzroy North

  2. Dave’s piece on culture and cultural inhibition (0:52:00 or so) reminds me of one realisation, which is that a lot of the early PDC stuff with Bill Mollison (I have the tapes from one of his PDCs circa 1983) seems to be more about shaking people out of that cultural stasis rather than communicating a particular process.

    eg. “the problem is the solution”, “you can’t do any worse than what’s already being done” and the various stories re. rats and wild rice, ducks vs. snails, having positive attitudes to weeds, even the crazy whale story, all seem to be trying to push people out of the dominant culture, and keep them there for a couple of weeks, after which time you can come up with much more varied solutions, some of which will be better.

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