Permaculture at Melliodora

by umajornadapermacultural

In May 2015 we were lucky to stay 3 weeks as volunteers at Permaculture site Melliodora with David Holmgren, co-founder of the Permaculture movement, and his partner Su Dennet in Victoria Australia!

Melliodora Photo

For both of us, deeply committed permaculturist, staying at one of the oldest Permaculture sites in the world was a great confirmation of the path we are walking on! Our stay in Melliodora was a profound inspiration in living life self-responsible, ethical and sustainable.

With over 30 years of existence, Melliodora, named after a native Australian Eucalypt (Yellowbox), it is one of the best examples of intensive Permaculture in the world as well as one of the best documented sites giving vital evidence for how applied Permaculture Design functions and looks like.

Virtually everything on the property was designed and built by Su and David with the help of friends, using mainly local materials and resources.

On the 1 hectare property, every piece of land demonstrates the Permaculture principles, for instance that Each Element Performs Many Functions and that Each Important Function is Supported by Many Elements


By identification and placement of all the elements needed for a livelihood from the land, with aid of the design principles, it is possible to significantly increase effectiveness and productivity of the whole system which can then serve well for our most important needs such as shelter, water, food, energy and community.

David demonstrates how applied Permaculture design can turn a small holding into an ecologically and economical productive landscape while creating a beautiful place worth caring about with an abundance to share.

Passive Solar House

Passive Solar House

Passive Solar House

Passive Solar House

They do that in various ways through political, social, economical and ecologically activism. This thoughtful and conscious land design is part of a LIFE design, allowing David and Su to make their living from the property. David publishes books and articles, gives interviews, they run guided tours, workshops and courses on their land and support the international Permaculture global network. Su runs a small local food shop once a week and organizes community cinema, not to mention their creek restoration work they have been engaged with for decades.

One of the things that stroke us the most was to see how almost nothing had to be rearranged from his original design when he started 30 years ago from a bare piece of land.

With Permaculture still being a relatively young design science and the significance and potential still not enough understood, established demonstration sites like Melliodora are important to grow public awareness about Permaculture and therefore grow its influence in the world!

Su and David have come far in their experiment of living self-sufficient and low impact on the environment, while leaving big impact on the global community. Su told us she hasn’t walked into a supermarket for many years!

About Melliodora…

Where else would be a better place to test the Permaculture principles than where there were thought of?


The Holmgren Design Principles:


Permaculture Principles



  • there is no trash bin – no “garbage” is produces;

  • all organic waste gets decomposed on site

  • compost toilet – Human waste forms rich compost used to fertilize the orchard;

  • toilet paper is replaced by last years edition of the yellow pages


  • food grows in abundance. Fruit and nut trees secure a perennial food supply which is consumed fresh and preserved and what they don’t grow themselves they buy from the local CSA – Community-Supported Agriculture

  • olive oil is the most recent addition to their home scale production

  • honey (replacing sugar), eggs and goat’s milk are produced by happy animals just a few meters from the table

    Su makes deliciously fresh yogurt and cheese with goat milk.


  • firewood for cooking and heating the house in winter mainly comes from trees planted in and alongside the property

  • the electricity comes from solar panels on the roof

  • the house is a passive solar house with no installed radiators or fireplace beside the cooking stove


  • the water used on the property mainly comes from rainwater catchment off the roof and the by making use of the large catchment area outside the property; the water is stored in 2 large dams and huge water tanks

  • grey water is treated on side and reused for irrigation


Water retention basin


  • Su and David keeping their household efficient by using a cold cupboard to store food, cooking of fire, soap making and so on..

  • the combination of passive solar architecture design and the use of mud bricks ensure that the house is kept heated during the winter and cool in summer without the need for extra energy input (temperatures at Melliodora can exceed 40°C in summer and go below 0°C in winter).



Passive Solar House

Even though all may seem complex and hard to maintain, this is a lifestyle abundant not only in food, fuel and water, but also in creativity, true freedom, fulfillment and lots of fun! And as Su says, “to run a property like this, it is required to be more than human, but to be an ACTIVIST human!”


Volunteering at Melliodora (WOOFING)

Our wwoofing activities in Melliodora were very diverse, including feeding the goats, pruning of trees, chipping wood, making a lot of compost, transplanting trees, harvesting olives, apples, pears, feijoas and the craziest shape pumpkins, processing and preserving the harvest, felling trees, chopping fire wood, nurturing native tree seedling and so on.

Inspiration for life

Sharing a daily routine with David, Su and their son Oliver, along with 2 other amazing wwoofers, Eunice and William, was transformative and certainly the most remarkable experience of our Permaculture learning journey.

David is the most thoughtful and incredibly brilliant thinker I have came across. He loves to express his passion and enthusiasm for discussing philosophical topics and the conceptual basis of sustainability in a mind blowing way. It was a lot to take in but irresistible to listen to his analysis and predictions.

Su is the most active activist being that probably exists with a contagious sense of humor!

The humble genuine nature of David and Su was awe inspiring to us!

Countless were the lessons and inspirations in their company, but certainly the biggest is the example and proof that sustainability and ethics go together. Positive change begins with each of us, in the way we choose to live our daily lives.




“Change your behavior, change your world”!!





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