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We Won! (and are Winning)

Do you remember my mentioning we were amongst the finalists for the Humanitarian Water & Food Award for 2010? Well, it seems we stole the show with our Jordan work and won first place!

The Humanitarian Water and Food Award announced the 2010 winner last night, at its first ever award event held at LIFE, Faculty of Life Sciences, Copenhagen.

The prize, 10,000 Euros and a copy of the Award Statuette, was handed over to Rhamis Kent, representing The Permaculture Research Institute (PRI) for their initiative “Greening the Desert“.

Representing the Selection Committee, Professor Alfred Opubor, commented that “the initiative brings us hope. With approaches that are easy to carry out, and replicable, PRI have clearly demonstrated we can produce food where it is needed in a sustainable way”. — Water and Food Award

Aside from the very helpful 10,000 Euro prize, which will go to further our aid work in Jordan, the placing of permaculture design at top of a list of positive food and water initiatives is exciting on its own — permaculture is starting to get the recognition it deserves! Winning awards like this ensures that more and more ‘high level’ individuals and groups — people in a position to help make a real difference if they could only see both the writing on the wall and the holistic solutions available to change our course — will have our work brought to their attention.

Geoff was busy teaching in Turkey, so couldn’t go along to accept the award, and being pretty busy (and preferring not to venture too far into the limelight myself!), I asked PRI helper Rhamis Kent, who was conveniently not far away in the UK, to head over to represent us and accept the award should it turn out to be ours. Rhamis got to speak to quite a few people interested in our work. Hopefully we’ll be able to share a report from his trip with you all when he gets a moment to scribble something down.

As well as Rhamis, we would very much like to acknowledge and thank the authors of the submission for this award, Ms Ali Godfrey and Mr Matthew Salkeld. Their taking the initiative to work on the submission on our behalf is much appreciated.

Current economic realities present us with an interesting paradox. As pockets worldwide are hit, people tend to become less interested in ‘the environment’. Who can be green conscious when you’re just trying to survive? That’s where the paradox hits, and we confront permaculture. Although the interest in being ‘green’ may fall off the bottom of people’s priority lists, their interest in survival goes up. We can expect a rush towards all concepts that offer resiliency and a healthier, better way of life. There has never been a better time to get involved in whatever capacity you can.

As far as I can see, it’s permaculture, or bust.

On a related note — we can also celebrate another permaculture victory, in that Gary Caganoff’s The Garden at the End of the World documentary on the work of Mahboba Rawi and Rosemary Morrow in tragically war torn Afghanistan has won the Human Rights Award 2010. Well done Gary and all involved!



  1. Congrats! A very well deserved award, and very exciting to see permaculture getting some much needed recognition.


  2. Congratulations – a well deserved award. Getting publicity like this makes it much easier to get things done under the “PRI” label. This includes grants to get projects going as much as all sorts of other contracts.

    I think it should be pointed out here that the other finalists also did pretty important work – so let’s not forget about them.

  3. Thanks all.

    Al – yes, as people start to wonder what’s happening to the world they knew, they’ll wake up. We, all of us, have got to be there for them. And, we need them too.

    Thomas – I’m curious about the “all sorts of other contracts”. Geoff does some consultancies, but from what I’ve seen, whatever can ends up in PRI, which means they end up financing projects, this site and student infrastructure to improve student experience at the PRI Institute’s Zaytuna Farm. I seriously hope you’re not alluding to something else – if so, do tell.

    Gary – congrats back to you, and thanks for your work. I enjoyed the vid. I haven’t been to Afghanistan, although will certainly go if I get the call. Will contact you if the time comes – I’m sure you’ve got some helpful tips for a computer geek like me.

  4. Congratulations for all your hard work and efforts. It’s fantastic to see permaculture getting the recognition and publicity it deserves.

  5. Craig,

    I was just referring to tapping other sources of funding than project research grants. One can do that, and having received recognition by such an award does help a lot, but often, there are other pots of money that can be tapped which are less of a bureaucratic hassle. (I was only referring to getting money into the PRI. What then happens to it is pretty clear – the ethics regulates that.)

    I think Gaviotas had an UN ZERI grant to get things going, for example.

  6. Congratulations! Permaculture is just great and your project deserves the prize.

    My only question is: how do you deal with the fact that Bayer is the sponsor of these Awards? They are no philantropic people at all, destroying environment as much as possible (see for example : ). My question is: in your opinion, what is their interest supporting projects like yours? Just communication?

  7. Hi Eva. It’s a good question. I don’t know why Bayer are sponsoring the awards to be honest. In many ways it just doesn’t make sense. But, as long as there are no strings attached whatsoever, we’ll do the Robin Hood thing and push on.



  9. Here’s good advice for practice: go into partnership with nature; she does more than half the work and asks none of the fee. – Martin H. Fischer (1879-1962)

  10. Well done, everyone! Also worthy of a mention in this should be Frank + Jane of Flashtoonz, whose little youtube vid on greening the desert got the momentum of this project (and PRI?) really rolling all those years ago back in 2006…

  11. I wanted to echo Kristen Bradley’s sentiments in recognizing the work of the Gapinskis, who I had the pleasure of meeting at Tony Coote’s farm (Mulloon Creek) last year. Really, this project would not be what it was had they not documented it so well.

    A reminder about the effectiveness & importance of compelling, well-executed media.

  12. Agreed Kirsten and Rhamis – Frank’s five minute vid was a much needed wake up call to showcase the incredible potential of permaculture systems. For a world used to a best case scenario of being slighly ‘less bad’, that little media slap showed that we can actually be a positive element within the biosphere. Imagine that.

  13. Wonderful news! Congratulations to PRI on recognition for all your hard work on such an amazing project. It is a great model for other projects and a fantastic demonstration of permaculture principles at work.

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