Sometime in late 2011 or early 2012 I was contacted by Peter Bane. I knew Peter from a series of annual permaculture teacher’s meetings and regional gatherings in the eastern states that had been held through the 1990s, and I had contributed to his publication The Permaculture Activist, now Permaculture Design magazine.  He invited me to join him, Penny Livingston, Jude Hobbs, and several other permaculture teachers and designers to work towards the formation of a continental organization for permaculture professionals in North America and the Caribbean region. 

In the three decades since emerging from Australia, permaculture had matured, had gained a footing in academia, and was achieving respect as a field of study and work. This was a critical time in the evolution of our mutual work. Because of the growing interest and popularity of permaculture, we had perceived the need to preserve the integrity of internationally accepted standards for permaculture course content and to establish pathways for professional development. Most importantly, we wanted to create an organization to further the critical work of permaculture designers to address the many ecological and social issues confronting humanity.

My own permaculture journey began in 1980, when I read the interview of Bill Mollison in Mother Earth News Magazine’s 1980 November- December Issue.  After a childhood spent close to nature, and an adolescence of growing disillusioned by modern society’s assault on the Earth’s natural systems, I was finding my footing among homesteading neighbors. My growing experience with gardening, homesteading skills and small-scale husbandry gained new focus as I read Mollison’s explanation of permaculture design. After six years of independent study, including meeting Bill Mollison at a three day workshop at Stoney Field Farm, I finally was able to attend a Permaculture Design Course. Two years later, in 1988, several partners helped to establish Three Sisters Farm on a five-acre field in northwestern Pennsylvania. Here I was able to put into practice what I have been learning, as we used permaculture design to plan and develop our farm and our intensive market garden enterprise.

Eventually I began working with colleagues to offer permaculture courses and provide consultation services. And we continued to network regionally and nationally with permaculture related people and organizations.  In 2011, after thirty years of study and twenty-two years of farm development, my book Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm was published by New Society Publishing. 

Despite my body of work as an educator, designer and activist, and the good reception my book received, I felt my work was isolated and any influence on the larger issues of the ongoing ecological crisis was not coming quickly. So, when asked to join colleagues that I highly respected to help create PINA, I was both gratified and inspired. The potential to work together would, without a doubt, magnify our voices and our efforts. 

In the ten years since our first conversations, PINA has grown to fulfill our expectations and more. Our diverse Board of Directors and Staff and Membership, from throughout North America, bring a wealth of experience and dedication that is leading PINA to greater impact every year. Our on-going creation of programs and member services will help to ensure that permaculture as a profession continues to mature. As a board member of the Permaculture Institute of North America I am grateful to be in regular dialog with some of the finest people in the field. Their dedication to finding creative solutions to the dilemma of our human relation to our home planet brings hope in bleak times.