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Robyn Francis 's Profile
Robyn Francis
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Joined:
05/02/2011
Last Updated:
10/02/2011
Location:
Nimbin, NSW, Australia
Climate Zone:
Sub-tropical
Gender:
Female
Web site:
www.permaculture.com.au





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Permaculture comes to China

Posted by Robyn Francis almost 8 years ago

Major PDC at Fuzhou, mainland China, marks an important step for permaculture making inroads to China

Fenzhou is a small city by Chinese standards, just 1.5 million population near the coast of southern China. The flurry of a decade or so of rapid development is evident in the glass and concrete forests of tower blocks, many newly completed and still uninhabited and many more under construction. I’m driven through the city to the rural fringe where I’m teaching a PDC (Permaculture Design Course) in a small village on the edge of the metropolis.

I arrive a half day late due to delays getting my mainland visa in Hong Kong  so my co teachers have the course already in swing. I’m just in time for lunch. There are 49 participants from all over China, including Mongolia and Tibet, plus a few from Hong Kong and Taiwan.  They come from all walks of life; farmers, property developers, community workers, teachers, interior designers, housewives.

Hui-I Chiang and Peter Morehead from Taiwan are my co-teachers. Actually they were invited to teach the course after conducting an introductory permaculture workshop in Fenzhou earlier in the year and insisted I come and support the training team. Hui-I and Peter convened the first PDCs in Taiwan and had my course notes translated into Mandarin. We’ve worked together for five years.

China struck me as a country of extremes; extreme affluence, extreme poverty, extreme development, extreme degradation, extreme pace of change. People are abandoning the countryside to move to the cities for work and better wages. The fields of rice, sweet potato and market garden crops surrounding the village are not being farmed by locals. The locals commute to the city to work and the farming is now done by people from other provinces as a stepping stone to moving to the city.  Participants tell me there are entire villages and surrounding tracts of farmland abandoned for the rush to the city. “When there’s no more farmers, who will grow our food?”, was commented by more than one participant.

They were serious students, searching for real solutions and I sensed many were really committed to making big changes.  There were a few English speakers in the group and it was interesting to gain insights of life in China from conversations with participants.  The pace of change has been rapid, many are questioning the nature of development, and awareness of the scale of the environmental issues they face is growing – concerns about pollution, quality of air, water and food, social inequity.

I came across a recent article in ‘The Guardian’ suggesting that the future of the planet largely depends on which way China decides to go. While China is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, it’s also the world’s largest investor in renewable energy. There are serious conversations between government and industry on the need for sustainable and “green” development and cleaning up China. 

One of the course participants is already pushing urban sustainable development to a new level of innovation and excited about the potential for permaculture to take this cutting edge further.  I’ve been invited to do some preliminary consulting on a project in the city of Shenzhen.

It seems like perfect timing for China to discover permaculture as it enters a critical period of transition, though this course is such a small drop in a very big ocean. I’ve been promised this won’t be the last time they’ll be wanting me there to teach and provide advise on sustainable directions and regenerating damaged landscapes.

Comments (3)

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Valeria Saez VL
Valeria Saez VL : Very interesting read! Let's hope indeed that this one drop will continue to dissolve.. What do you know about organic farming in China though? Is it still common? because when I was over at Xianyu province I'm pretty sure most of the agriculture I saw was organic. Lastly, what do you know about the seeds that you can buy in any local gardening store? I bought some but since it's all in Chinese I can't tell whether they're organic or not. Hope you can help somehow!
Posted almost 8 years ago

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Helder Valente
Helder Valente : Great news...im verry happy to know china is changing to a more sustainable way of developing
Posted almost 8 years ago

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Jo Hollander
Jo Hollander : John D. Liu made an AMAZING VIDEO about regenerating the damaged landscape of the 640,000 square kilometers big luss plateau of the Yellow River. The video is called: 'Hope in a Changing Cllimate'. All done by the Chinese themselves! You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK8z0qDtE2g
Posted almost 8 years ago

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My Badges
Consultant Aid worker Pdc teacher
My Permaculture Qualifications
Verified
course
Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
Teacher: Lea Harrison & Suzi Edwards
Location: Stoddards Lne. Tyalgum
Date: Oct 1983
45 PDC Graduates (list)
0 PRI PDC Graduates (list)
55 Other Course Graduates (list)
have acknowledged being taught by Robyn Francis
4 have not yet been verified (list)
Climate Zones
Robyn Francis has permaculture experience in:
Cold Temperate
Cool Temperate
Warm Temperate
Mediterranean
Sub-tropical
Wet/Dry Tropical
Wet Tropical
Dry Tropical
Arid

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