A Second Dialogue with Dave Jacke (E08)

Dave during the chat with Dan

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

The first episode/instalment can be found here.

This second instalment of an energy-rich conversation that is far from done includes:

  • Dan sharing his recent feeling that in framing permaculture design processes using linear-sequence-implying flow charts a (kind of big) mistake is being made
  • Dave putting flow charts and other things in a successional (but non-linear!) framing where they have their role in the learning journey
  • Dave sharing his cutting edge, hot-off-the-press, so far unwritten about approach to framing design processes as ecosystems
  • The relation between what he calls the four ecosystem ps:
    • properties
    • principles
    • patterns
    • processes
  • Why Dave avoids using the name permaculture
  • Much, much else!

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

Oh yes, the Ludwig Wittgenstein quote Dan mentions was:

One thinks that one is tracing the outline of the thing’s nature over and over again, and one is merely tracing around the frame through which we look at (Philosophical Investigations)

and the quote Dave shared was:

Ecological communities are not as tightly linked as organisms, but neither are they simply collections of individuals. Rather, the community is a unique form of biological system in which the individuality of the parts (i.e., species and individuals) acts paradoxically to bind the system together. —DAVID PERRY, Forest Ecosystems

Finally, you can organise yourself a copy of David Holmgren’s amazing new book Retrosuburbia (which Dan quotes from at the start) right here.

We really hope you enjoy the episode, and please do leave a comment sharing any feedback or reflections below…

Dan during the chat with Dave


  1. Just finished the podcast- theres a great chemistry there for sure.
    My only observation is that there is very little explicit discussion of the role of strategy in design- either strategy without design or design without strategy. How might strategy be different from process and influence the final design? I just compared the cover page of permaculture one and two and there is a shift towards design in two whereas it is suprisingly absent in one- maybe this is where your fundamental answers might be found. However, as someone who is transitioning from full time employment into the permaculture space over the next 5 years I value your contribution and efforts. Thanks again.

    1. Greetings Tim! Hey before I reply would you mind clarifying what you mean by strategy, maybe with an example. Many thanks!

          1. Thanks Tim though I would need a sentence on what you mean by strategy before replying – amongst your links there the word strategy is used/defined in so many different ways that it only amplifies my original motivation to ask for clarification as to what exactly you are talking about.

          2. Hi Dan
            A fair point you make. My reflection is that Design is for the production of something which is relatively fixed in time (a watch, a hospital, a car) but for most of us meandering our way through a permaculture journey there is no fixed point or product- unless its the point we opt out of permaculture or leave the property. I was thinking of the ways we apply strategies in our business and personal lives and how they might also apply to permaculture.
            For example working with nature not against it could be seen as a permaculture strategy- there might be some instances where working against nature is a strategic decision to achieve a broader goal. ‘Diversification’ is a good strategy for some contexts but not others -particularly those with significant monthly outgoings.

            I chose to place my house lower than my septic trenches in order to maximise solar and wind access- but it means I needed an electric pump to move wastes up hill. In doing so I also freed up an area of high ground for a future market garden and flower nursery. So working against nature was a good strategic decision I made.

            I have recently joined a seed savers group- I will provide a small amount of plants/ seeds for free (a strategic loss) but will access an equivalent amount of plants/ seeds- which as a strategic investment will be massive and in line with my 5 year permaculture goal of a somewhat diversified perenial greens market garden.

            I just don’t think you need a masterplan or equivalent deign if you continually apply strategic thinking…

            Look forward to your next podcast.

          3. Thanks Tim and sorry for the delay in delivering my promised reply! What you’re calling strategic thinking is highly reminiscent of the strategic planning approach that David Holmgren learned from his design process mentor Haikai Tane. Was also alluded to here under the title David Holomgren.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Catherine :-). I sure come out of every chat with Dave changed (though I might have to do some some leg stretches before I play leapfrog with him again…).

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